Weston Kenney, Deseret News
ANTELOPE ISLAND STATE PARK — Jeremy Shaw was 10 years old and on a camping trip in western Wyoming with his two brothers and his dad when he had his brainstorm.
They were at a place called Lake Alice setting up camp when a backcountry ranger came by on his horse, a packhorse trailing, swung out of the saddle, sat down and commenced to talk about anything and nothing — what the fish were biting on, the weather, how their day was going, did they need anything.
As the ranger got back on his horse and left, this thought entered Jeremy’s young brain: That’s a job!
From that day on, he knew what he wanted to be when he grew up.
Thus motivated, after he graduated from Weber High School, he enrolled at Utah State University, majored in fisheries and wildlife management, and, between getting married and working at a tire store, got his degree in 1997.
Utah State Parks immediately offered him a full-time ranger job and, once he’d completed his required coursework at the police academy, posted him at East Canyon State Park above Morgan.
Just like that, he was living his dream.
His starting pay was actually less than he was making at the tire store. In his dreams, he’d neglected to consider just how much his dream job would pay, but his passion prevailed over paycheck.
He spent eight years as a park ranger and assistant park manager at East Canyon, four and a half years as park manager at Hyrum State Park above Logan, and in 2011, when he was just 37, he took over as park manager at Antelope Island State Park, one of the crown jewels in the Utah State Parks system.
In the five and a half years under his supervision, Antelope Island’s popularity has trended steadily up. Attendance has increased from 282,145 visits in 2011 to 380,611 in 2015. Of Utah’s 43 state parks, only Dead Horse Point State Park had more visits last year, and just barely, at 383,478.
This year, Antelope Island is already well on its way to over 400,000 visitors. On a sunny Sunday in March, it set a single-day record for visits when nearly 6,000 people crossed the 7-mile causeway from Syracuse to explore and enjoy the 28,000-acre island.
He recently sat down with the Deseret News to talk about all things Antelope Island.
DN: Thank you for your time today. So what’s it like, working at your dream job?
JS: I can’t tell you how many people tell me, “Oh, man, I wish I was doing what you’re doing,” and I have to agree with them. I have the best job in the world for me.
DN: And money’s the big draw?