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Apostles' Keeper Program

A forum to discuss lighthouses in the US Great Lakes Region
(Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and the lake lighthouses of New York & Pennsylvania)

Postby Grover1 » Sun Aug 17, 2008 12:35 pm


From Business North

Apostle's Lighthouse Keeper Program a Busy Success
8/17/2008-Amy Swanoski

On Monday ( 8/18 ), the Apostle Islands will give people a look into the life of a volunteer lighthouse keeper

The most coveted volunteer position at the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is the volunteer lighthouse keeper. Neil Howk is the Assistant Chief of Education for the National Lakeshore. He says many prospective lighthouse keepers hold somewhat romantic notions about the job.

“Certainly the buildings themselves are historical. And the view from up in the light house tower is outstanding. Some people take the position of volunteer light house keeper as thinking they are going to be out there and they’ll be alone and perhaps be able to catch up on their reading or write the next great American novel… but we do have thousands of people who visit these light houses every summer and the position is not a lonely one.”

For the last presentation of the National Lakeshore’s lecture series Karen Halbersleben, a tenured volunteer lighthouse keeper and president of Northland College, will share her experiences. Howk says the volunteers do many jobs. They maintain grounds, clean outhouses, and guide tours. Most volunteers are retired couples, school teachers, and retired servicemen.

“We had one gentleman who was a retired engineer from a nuclear submarine. He spent about three months at a time out at one of the light houses. I guess submarine duty is very good practice for being a light house keeper. If you’re used to being submerged for 6 months at a time the idea of being on an island for three months is really no problem.”

Howk says many people are interested in the job but it is hard to find volunteers who are available for long periods of time. Howk likes volunteers who can live on the islands for more than three weeks. This limits fuel use during trips to the island and reduces the park’s carbon footprint. Howk says visits to the lighthouses started out slow this summer but are now back to normal.

The program is called Making a Dream Come True: Serving as a Volunteer Light House Keeper. It will be held at the auditorium of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore’s headquarters visitor center in Bayfield. It starts at 7:30 pm on Monday.
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