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Friday, January 19, 2018

Makoshika employee passionate about the park

By Jason Stuart

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

Montana State Parks has added another full-time employee to Makoshika State Park’s staff, as local woman Sue Veroye was recently hired as a new administrative clerk for the park.

Veroye is a native of Dawson County, born and raised in Richey and a graduate of Richey High School. She is no stranger to working in Makoshika, having spent the last seven summer seasons there as a seasonal employee. 

Until now, Veroye’s full-time job throughout the rest of the year had been as a paraeducator for Glendive Public Schools. But when State Parks — after a couple of years of talking about it — finally decided to add another full-time staff member to Makoshika, Veroye said she couldn’t pass up the opportunity, though she added it was not an easy decision.

“I did have to do a lot of soul searching because I did love my job at the school as well,” Veroye said, adding she still intends to “stay connected” to the school district through volunteer work.

For Veroye, however, Makoshika has always held a special attraction. She, her husband and their children are all active outdoorsmen, she noted, and with their home in Glendive sitting right beneath the shadow of Hungry Joe Hill, she said the family has always used Makoshika as a way to scratch their itch for the great outdoors.

“My kids would probably tell you they were born and raised in Makoshika,” Veroye said. “Most weekends when we weren’t hunting or fishing we were exploring in Makoshika.”

Asked what her favorite thing about Makoshika is, Veroye responded, “the hiking.”

“And I don’t know why, but my favorite hiking trail is Kinney Coulee. To me there’s just something about it, being deep in the park and surrounded by all the neat geological formations.”

As an administrative clerk, Veroye said she will have two primary roles at the park, though she noted “everybody’s role is going to change a little bit since we have extra bodies.” Her first primary duty is “visitor contact,” she said, which means manning the visitor center front desk, giving visitor center tours, answering phones, taking campground reservations and generally being there to help visitors plan and enjoy their stay. Her other main duty is managing the park’s gift shop, something she has already been doing over the last several years during her seasonal employment.

“I love that part of it,” Veroye said of managing the park’s retail program. “I’ve come to take pride in procuring new products and seeing what works.”

For Makoshika manager Chris Dantic, having another full-time staff member is a very welcome change. For years, the park — Montana’s largest state park — has operated with just three full-time staff members, a manager, ranger and maintenance foreman.

“Increasing (full-time staff) is always good, because we can do a lot more,” Dantic said, noting that having Veroye on board full time will allow himself and park ranger Tom Shoush to put their focus into other areas by allowing them to get out of the visitor center and into the park. “This will be a very interesting year in Makoshika State Park, because we’ll have more help on hand than we ever have before.”

Dantic is not just referring to Veroye there, either, as the park will have one extra staff member for nearly the entire year for the next three years through a recent AmeriCorps grant. The park has long brought in AmeriCorps workers for the summer season, but the new grant will give Dantic an AmeriCorps worker from January through November, with the first set to arrive in January 2018.

“It’s going to be huge,” Dantic said of having that AmeriCorps worker nearly year-round.

With the full-time addition of Veroye, the soon-to-be-arriving year-round AmeriCorps worker and all the other projects currently underway in Makoshika, Dantic said it is a very exciting time for the park as park officials continue to work to improve the visitor experience.

“It’ll be an exciting year and I’m looking forward to that,” Dantic said. “Extra help is always a positive, and we’re going to have it continuously for at least a while.”

Reach Jason Stuart at rrreporter@rangerreview.com.

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