BY JACLYN ROSE –
When Yvonne Siribouth was pregnant with her fourth child, she suddenly found herself a single parent. Up to that point, she had been a stay-at-home mom, caring for her children. With determination and a one-month old baby, she began college at the University of Arkansas Fort Smith and started a job as a hostess in the restaurant at Mount Magazine.
Originally from Missouri, Siribouth moved to Arkansas in 1994. “I was born in Missouri, raised in Virginia and North Carolina, and I call Arkansas home,” said Siribouth. An avid fan of the outdoors, she enjoyed taking daily hikes up the mountain. Soon after she began working at Mount Magazine she was introduced to the Parks and Recreation field and it didn’t take long for her to realize that was the career she should enter. “I had no idea you could get an education in Parks and Rec, but I knew I loved being outside, so I started the next semester at Arkansas Tech University in the Interpreter Program,” explained Siribouth.
A State Park Interpreter is someone who can interpret a resource, both the natural and the historical. According to Siribouth, she is someone who knows a little bit about a whole lot. “I found out there was a career out there that was basically playing all day and I fell in love with it. When I first started working at Mount Magazine, I took my kids with me to fill out the paper work. My daughter was two and she got out of the car and said, ‘mommy your office is beautiful,’” Siribouth explained.
In her final semester of college, Siribouth had to complete an internship, which she did under her mentor, Don Simons, the Park Interpreter at Mount Magazine. “Don has been there since before the lodge opened. He is definitely my mentor. I worked with him on different programs and helped him out the best that I could,” said Siribouth.
On February 5, 2012, Siribouth was hired as the Park Interpreter for Queen Wilhelmina State Park (QWSP). She moved her four children, Christine, Sam, Angel, and Elizabeth, to Rich Mountain and they began their life in Polk County. In 2014, Siribouth married her husband, Patrick, a ranger at Mount Magazine. “I really enjoy raising my kids right so they know respect and values and morals. My husband and I work at different parks and go back and forth, I like to say that I have the best of both worlds,” Siribouth said.
Siribouth is in charge of all programming and tours and helps with all the events they put on at QWSP. “To me the park is basically in everybody’s backyard. It is a huge resource, not only to families but to businesses and schools. On July 11, we will host our 17th annual Butterfly Count. There is a $3 fee and it lasts from 9 am until 3 pm. The results are published in Butterfly World Magazine. If you are interested in butterflies or want to learn more, I encourage you to come. We walk around and identify species and keep track of how many we find and then take an average. Last year we found around 50 species and well over 300 butterflies,” Siribouth explained.
“I love the natural resources in Polk County. The waterfalls are very pretty and there are a bounty of different wildflowers, including several indigenous to Rich Mountain. I have fallen in love with wildflowers and I really enjoy photographing them,” said Siribouth.