Humans of the Gateway Arch: Meet Ranger Don
In our “Humans of the Gateway Arch” series, we spotlight a member of the Gateway Arch team who helps make the Arch one of the premier travel destinations in the world. The Arch’s park partners work together to attract and welcome visitors to St. Louis’ renovated urban national park, where visitors create lasting memories and learn about American history.
Meet Donald Schwertfeger, Gateway Arch National Park Guide & Ranger.
What were you doing before you became a park ranger?
Before I became a park ranger, I served for 15 years in the United States Army and am now a disabled veteran. I first heard about job openings for the National Park Service from a veteran’s career representative. I began working at Gateway Arch National Park in June of 2013 and have been in my current role since December of 2014.
What do your daily responsibilities include?
Each day, I am responsible for guiding visitors through the Museum at the Gateway Arch and around the top of the Gateway Arch. I answer any questions our visitors have, as well as point out valuable historic facts about St. Louis and the Gateway Arch. I like to tell the story about why the Arch is located in St. Louis and the historical significance of our city being the Gateway to the West. Additionally, I have been the emergency medical first responder (EMR) for Gateway Arch National Park since 2015.
What is the most rewarding part about your job?
This may sound corny, but my favorite part of every day is interacting with visitors from all over the world. I have met some incredible people over the past few years, and I love being able to teach them fun and interesting facts about the Gateway Arch, St. Louis, and the National Park Service. I also really enjoy answering the question, “So, you can actually go up inside the Gateway Arch?”
What is your favorite memory of working at Gateway Arch National Park?
My very first day working at Gateway Arch National Park, I remember walking up to the Arch and thinking to myself, “Wow. I really get to work at one of the most iconic national monuments in the country. How many people can say that?”