If the Interpretive Ranger is the face of our Parks, then the Custodial staff is the backbone. What many visitors see and feel about the up keep of our facilities and maintained grounds will set the tone for their whole visit.   A crystal clean windowed entry door and spotless exhibits sets the tone that we are professional and harbor a trusted environment and have respect for ourselves.  A clean restroom eases the parents worry for safety of their family.  This trust builds confidence that will carry over to the family’s exploration into an unknown, beautiful environment of the Park they are visiting.

A Day in the Life of a Custodial Worker

The day starts in the pitch dark, 6 a.m., the park is mine alone and that is perfect.  The sunrise just a glow of royal blue, east of Sunset Crater Volcano  to the west a midnight blue sky full of stars and the silhouette of the  San Francisco Peaks.

At the main building visitor complex, each day, I dust the exhibits and vacuum, clean the windows and a hundred other small details to making this facility top notch.   I prefer to do this daily as it makes it easy to keep up.  I have great tools to clean our restrooms.  I use a shop vac with a chemical spray attachment that allows for professionally cleaned floors and walls.

Cleaning the grounds entails sweeping the walkways, emptying the garbage and recycling cans, shoveling snow, trimming back bushes and pulling invasive weeds. The whole visitor complex includes many buildings.  I have 5 other structures at this site to clean and organize as needed.

When done, I jump in my truck and head out for my rounds of the whole park.  This is the perfect job for assessing conditions of park facilities, roads and trails.  I report problems and issues as they arise.

First stop is our number one visitor experience, the Lava Flow trail and picnic area.  Its high use requires a thorough restroom cleaning.   The grounds harbor a number of garbage dispensers and the never-ending job of sweeping cinders from the path ways.   This job has a huge amount of contact in the field with visitors.   When I work on the parking lot and small picnic area I answer questions on logistics as well as natural history about Sunset Crater Volcano and the surrounding area.  If time allows I walk the trail picking up trash pulling weeds and sweeping cinders.

Moving on, I reach Cinder Hills Overlook.  Over a number of months  I have cut back Apache Plume bushes in the parking lot and along the entry road, replaced the No Camping sign, request a new interpretive sign and paint the garbage cans to bring the area up to speed.  Daily I empty the trash and pick up the parking area.

Painted Desert is my last stop heading east.  It affords a spectacular view of the Panted desert and a nice little picnic area and pit toilets that I keep clean.

As I head back to the Visitor center, I will have 4 more stops that will need up keep and monitoring.   Sometimes I walk the Lenox Trail where I have replaced the trail markers collecting trash and blocked off social trails that have sprung up since my last visit.  Sometimes I grab my weed whacker and my grounds tools to cut back the ever encroaching plant life that pushes in on these scenic visitor stop areas.  Other jobs I will work at are basic plumbing, painting structures and road stripes, removing snow or pine nettles from cemented trails and parking areas and housing, testing water chlorine levels, repair split rail fences and tracking water use.  Two to three times a week I will help clean at the other two parks in the Flagstaff Area National Monuments system, Wupatki and Walnut Canyon.


For restrooms we use a Hillyard Cleaning companion which includes a moderate pressure spray system that delivers water and cleaning solutions and vacuum component for water pick up. A Green chemical I like to use with the cleaning companion is: Suprox – Peroxide cleaner . It’s Green Seal Approved — product meets the Green Seal™ environmental standard for industrial and institutional cleaners based on its reduced human and aquatic toxicity and reduced smog production potential. It’s a multipurpose cleaner that  contains stabilized hydrogen peroxide and natural citrus solvents to provide highly effective cleaning for many surfaces including glass, restroom fixtures, tile and grout, counters, floors, and carpets.

The Clean Environment Company HAND SOAP (N-12) is a naturally derived hand soap made primarily from replenishable natural resources

Choosing green cleaning chemicals, products and procedures will preserve the environment and can impact the lifespan of building materials and furnishings

Finally, Be sure to take good care of yourself

Cleaning products affect indoor air quality and may contain a high level of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which can cause respiratory irritation, headaches and other symptoms to building occupants.

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