Contact: Bonnie Strawser - 252-473-1131
August 2, 2010
From hard hat to chef’s cap, Jon has got it covered
After spending four years as a watercraft mechanic in the U. S. Army back in 1986, Jonathan (Jon) Powers was thinking about his next move in life. With his military experience in hand, he began filling out a few SF-171s. While reading an article about a new national wildlife refuge established in eastern North Carolina, he reminisced to his mother about his YCC days at Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in his home state of Virginia. Unbeknownst to Jon, his mom took one of his SF-171s and mailed it in to Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. While his parents were away on vacation, Jon received a letter from the refuge letting him know that he had made the first cut and needed to submit additional materials to complete his application. Within months, Jon was wearing a Fish and Wildlife uniform as a maintenance mechanic for Alligator River and Pea Island National Wildlife Refuges.
Of course, like many refuge employees, he has worn numerous hats over the years. As part of the fire crew, he has assisted with prescribed and wild fires. Along with other maintenance workers, Jon has been given the opportunity to travel to many other refuges in the North Carolina Coastal Plain Refuges Complex and beyond. In addition, he’s banded ducks, built pens for the red wolves, patrolled for sea turtle nests and even worked a stint as the red wolf caretaker.
He made the national news when he went to the airport to pick up eight red wolves of the first group to be reintroduced into Alligator River! His days are far from monotonous. This is one of the reasons he has enjoyed his time at the refuge complex for so long.
“The refuge staff is like one big family,” Jon says. “I enjoy interacting with everyone from all the different program areas.”
Although you will find him maintaining water levels on the impoundments and assisting with large V-ditching projects, Jon still takes time to help the visitor services staff with every-day maintenance needs. He’s not only there to help, he’s also big on passing on his knowledge to anyone who wants to learn.
Jon also enjoys learning and recently attended a Preservations Skills Workshop at Chicopee National Wildlife Refuge, Virginia. You might have seen him on the cover of the November/December 2009 issue of Refuge Update. While learning the many ways of preserving cultural resources on refuges, Jon said, “It felt good knowing there are others who are concerned about those resources on natural lands.”
While Jon is fond of hunting and fishing with his son, Frankie, he doesn’t do it just for the sport. Anyone who has been around Jon at work or in the community knows he also enjoys cooking. While a bachelor, Jon said he developed a knack for getting just the right ingredients together to come up with delicious meals. His wife Christy can sit back and take care of other duties around the house when Jon is in the kitchen. In case you think he’s just a run-of-the-mill type chef, you would only have to show up at one of the local stew or chili culinary challenges to realize just how talented Jon is. Last year in the fifteenth Annual Chili Cook Off, Jon took home second Place in the Other Meat category for his Venison Chili as a Home Kitchen Contestant. And earlier this year, he won first Place in the Amateur-Stews/Soups category for his Wildgame Stew at the Stews, Soups, and Sweets “Bustin' the Blues Ultimate Culinary Challenge.”
Of course, Jon also has been known to cook up a storm for his co-workers. In fact, quite a few in the maintenance program have noticed a need to purchase larger uniform pants through the years!
Jon Powers in one of his many hats!
Photo Credit: Cindy Heffley, USFWS.