Two people stand on a grassy hillside in the King Range Wilderness, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Mtn. Bike Rider on the Bizz Johnson Trail King Range National Conservation Area Poppy Three Pump Jacks, Midway-Sunset Oilfield
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Employee Profile

Rachel Sowards

Outdoor Recreation Planner/Interpretive Specialist
King Range National Conservation Area
Arcata Field Office

It is not uncommon for BLM career employees to have degrees from Humboldt State University in Arcata. The school is known for their College of Natural Resources and Sciences.  Rachel has a bachelor's degree from Humboldt State and it's a science degree -- however, it is in political science.  

So, how did she jump from politics to outdoor recreation?  She says she had always planned on doing something related to education.  She was going to teach poly-sci, but as she was applying for political science graduate programs, she was working with students in an environmental education program.  She thought, "What am I doing?  I want to teach kids outside, not in a classroom!"  She called up the schools she had applied to and withdrew her applications, then applied for natural resources based recreation-environmental education graduate programs.  She accomplished that goal with a masters degree in recreation resource management with an emphasis in environmental education and interpretation from Utah State University.

While attending school in Utah, she was an education specialist SCEP (Student Career Experience Program) at Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Kanab, Utah.  Now she conducts interpretive hikes, maintains information and interpretive materials and coordinates the environmental education program for the King Range National Conservation Area.  She also maintains the King Range NCA website and coordinates the summer intern and volunteer programs.  A new collateral duty assignment is being the contact for the California Coastal National Monument Lost Coast Gateway.  She has been with the BLM for three years.

Being an outdoor recreation specialist, Rachel enjoys many outdoor activities including hiking, backpacking, and biking.  (She says the new 14-mile bicycle trail at King Range "rocks!")  she also enjoy baking and playing the banjo.  And as if she had any free time, she says she spends what she does have as a court appointed special advocate for foster children.

She also found time for romance.  She was married in September 2008 to Chuck Thompson.  They live in Garberville. 

Rachel Sowards
Rachel Sowards

"(I had) wonderful experiences learning in the outdoors at an early age."