July 12, 2018

On the Job: Glen Baum, Anderson Lake State Fish & Wildlife Area

Baum is a member of AFSCME Local 51 and a Site Technician II at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Tell us about your job at Anderson Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area.

I’ll tell you what, I have a ball. It’s great. It’s hard work but it’s rewarding. There are very few boring moments.

Day to day, we manage more than 90 campground sites, registering campers, mowing, cleaning latrines. We’re in a floodplain so we are often cleaning debris washed up after floods.

A big part of our job is preparing for and managing hunting seasons. Turkey, deer and dove hunting season are busy. But our biggest hunting season is duck season.

We plant corn and in late summer we pump water from Anderson Lake to flood Carlson Lake and another 90-acre field so that the water covers the corn up to the ears so the ducks can feed on it. Those are the best hunting areas.

When the season starts, we check hunters in and out and draw for “blinds” and “timber holes” (platforms that hunters build in GPS-specific spaces). We track all the species of ducks and the total number of hunters.

What’s your favorite part of the job?

Being outside. I come to work and we have baby geese running around, turkeys, baby fawns. We get eagles up and down the Illinois River, oodles and oodles of bald eagles.

My happiest time of the year is our youth waterfowl hunting weekend. I love getting to see the smiles on those children’s faces. It’s really important to teach youth the correct way to handle a firearm responsibly. It’s rewarding for the adult as well as the child.

How did you come to this career in public service?

It took a long time for me to get here. I’ve come full circle over more than 30 years as a state employee doing maintenance-type work. I started at New Salem State Historic Site in 1986. I worked in Springfield at the Willard Ice Building, at the Lincoln Developmental Center, at the school for the deaf in Jacksonville, and back to New Salem in 2007.

I came here to Anderson Lake in 2013 and I live with my family just seven minutes down the road on about 100 acres. I’m blessed beyond belief to be where I’m at.

How does your job provide a valuable public service?

So many people benefit from our state parks. At Anderson, our campgrounds cater to both locals and people travelling through. People riding bicycles come and throw a hammock up for the night. We have great fishing. There are picnic pavilions where people have fish fries, family get-togethers and reunions. There’s trail walking, mushroom hunting, hiking, eagle and bird watching, and more.

The money spent, particularly with hunting season, spurs our local economy. And the work we do to regulate animal and fowl populations is really important.

How does being a union member improve your life and your work?

Day to day, the union touches us in different ways. We come to work knowing what the rules are—they don’t change. We have a contract. There’s structure in place. Both management and employees follow the rules and that evens the playing ground.

I believe in the union strongly. My family has a better life because I have better pay, medical insurance and job security. You can’t raise a family on minimum wage. And I think union jobs make better employees—you can pay someone eight dollars an hour but they aren’t going to care and be passionate, and they aren’t going to stay.

With a union we have a voice. One person hollering doesn’t do a lot of good, but when you have 50,000 people, you make a difference. It’s imperative that a union be in place. It’s a win-win for everybody.

What’s your inspiration to go to work every day?

I love being in nature, looking at God’s creatures. It’s a wondrous world we live in and you have to stop and look around. Some people are sitting in an office all day and I get to be out here on the water, seeing fish and wildlife, talking to campers and hunters.

I don’t know that I could find a more perfect job than what I’ve got. How can you have a bad day when you wake up and get to do what you love? There’s nothing bad, it’s all good. It’s all positive. It’s amazing.


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