Hello Hello! This is Joe Morse at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.
This week I bring you my second Service Spotlight, where I’ll be interviewing a volunteer from one of our sites to get to know them better. In these interviews, you will also be able to get a better sense of what they bring to our volunteer program, and their uniqueness.
This July I had the chance to speak with Tom Dwyer. Tom is the president of our carpentry and blacksmith guild and volunteers in both shops at our Fort. He is also one of our longest serving volunteers.
Here’s what Tom had to say:
How long have you been volunteering at Fort Vancouver?
18-20 years. Probably 18 years. 4 years ago I volunteered at the blacksmith shop. Now I do 1 day in the blacksmith shop and 1-2 days in the carpenter shop.
What do you typically do in the carpentry and blacksmith shop?
In the carpentry shop, currently we are building writing desks and tables for the park. In the blacksmith shop, since there are no park needs for our items at this moment, we are practicing making historically correct items, and demonstrating our techniques to the public.
How did you come to be a volunteer at Fort Vancouver?
I came to a 4th of July event. I had done some hobby blacksmithing on the east coast. Bill DeBerry, one of the rangers, introduced me to the volunteer program and trained me.
What’s your favorite thing about volunteering here at Fort Vancouver?
Learning historical blacksmithing and carpentry techniques and interacting with all the interesting people at the fort. I’ve talked to people from all over the world and once in a while, someone from Europe or the Far East really understands those classic trades. It’s really cool to talk to them about what they know.
What keeps you volunteering?
The interest I have in these trades and learning old ways of making things.
What the biggest challenge of being a volunteer and how do you overcome that?
The biggest I think is the minimal park service staff that exist on the park. Park staff help us with coordinating, training the volunteers, and making the place run smoothly. When I began, there were 6-7 full time rangers, now maybe just 3 full time rangers.
What’s one thing you’d like to tell people who come to the fort?
The fact that it has living history. This is one of a kind place. What the Hudson Bay Company was like in the 1840s.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
…No I guess not 🙂
On a separate side note I’d just like to say that me and Tom both share the same Alma mater, us having both attended the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) in Syracuse, New York. Go Stumpies!