Captain Gerry Cook's message of hope
Sunday August 21st was the last Mule trip for the 2011 season of North Cascades Wild. The Mule was buzzing with the noise of old and new friends swapping stories and sharing laughs. This day was especially significant because it was also Captain Gerry Cook’s last official day on the Mule with summer youth. Ending the season in style, Gerry was accompanied by his beautiful ladies: wife Hannah and daughter Kerri.
A fulfilling career spanning over four decades, Gerry Cook has enriched the lives of many; including Tasha Lexin, host for the day and a lead instructor for North Cascades Institute.
Emotions ran high as Tasha eloquently announced Gerry’s retirement. “You are a light and have touched so many hearts and I don’t have words to express how much you mean to the park, this program and our community.”
Gerry has worked with Tasha and many other NCI staff for several years and asserted how inspirational they have been in his life as well.
One of the highlights of riding on the Mule with Gerry is getting to hear some of his experiences during his 44-year career with the National Park Service. The classics involve mishaps with transporting bears, removing pack animals that die in the backcountry, and the fascinating individuals that you meet manning the fire lookouts. What tops it all for Gerry, is the education that takes place on the Mule with summer youth participants.
“I truly believe that these kids will be stewards of this planet for the rest of their lives. Once you take a turn down that path, you cannot turn back,” says Gerry. Hannah and Gerry later described it is a “path of service and path of knowledge.”
Although it was his last official Mule trip with summer youth, Gerry has a hard time grasping not working in this capacity. “Everyone of these students are smart, motivated, great young people,” he remarked. “They are changing the face of the park… this work has too much meaning to me and I think we’re on the brink of bigger things.”
We’ll just have to wait and see what is next for Gerry in his path of service and knowledge.
Each one of the NC Wild students had the opportunity to talk about their life and adventures on Ross Lake. Some of the important themes threaded through out their presentations included: acceptance, freedom, expression, ownership, experience, tolerance, decision-making and power. It was clear that these kids are going places. A question on the minds of environmental educators around the globe is how to give students a message of hope that will empower them to take action. Gerry nailed it:
“I can’t change the world, but I can change the world around me. If we all change the world around us, we can all together change the world.”
Join Gerry, his friends, family and the hundreds of young people he has inspired in the North Cascades. Ask yourself, what can changes can I make?