Client Spotlight: A Happy Retiree Couple’s Volunteer Opportunity at Olympic National Park


Client Spotlight: A Happy Retiree Couple’s Volunteer Opportunity at Olympic National Park



At Capital Investment Advisors, our team is lucky enough to work with a stellar group of clients. However, even amongst that group par excellence, Cyndi and Chelsy Cross stand out.

The Cross’ embarking on their assignment at Olympic National Park

They’ve taken on an inspirational and unique adventure, as I hope all our retirees will. Huge nature lovers, they frequent hiking trails whenever possible. One day, while hoofing it through Olympic National Park in Washington state, they encountered some folks who appeared to be tracking GPS coordinates. Curious, they researched and discovered it was a marmot monitoring program. For those who don’t know, a marmot is a hefty ground squirrel known for standing upright and whistling loudly.

Marmot at Olympic National Park

Cyndi and Chelsy had heard enough. They wanted to join this fascinating group of citizen scientists to help collect information about the furry rodents, sometimes called “whistle pigs.”

The program has anywhere from seventy to one hundred volunteers every year. After a selection process, each acceptee is trained and sent to a designated park site to camp and document evidence of marmots, burrows, and proof of occupancy. They chart each discovery so GPS tracking can confirm the area covered by the volunteer and determine the exact burrow locations. Evidence collected over the years allows scientists to learn more about the lives and habits of marmot populations.

Cyndi and Chelsy applied and were accepted! After training, supervisors sent them on a five-day marmot monitoring assignment that included daily off-trail hiking, GPS recording, and even free time to explore and swim in the pristine mountain waters of the Seven Lakes Basin. They also completed three other multi-day backpacking trips to prepare for the physically demanding commitment.

Chelsy backpacking in Olympic National Park

Views from the Seven Lakes Basin

Views from the mountains of Olympic National Park

The Cross family truly enjoys nature. They know where they want to go, and retirement allows them the freedom to get there.

I can honestly say I don’t know any other retirees working on mastering the science of marmot global positioning. Still, the thought of satellites in space beaming down information to that end certainly makes me smile. The happiest retirees never cease to amaze me with their burning desire to learn and experience all the world has to offer.

Take some time to discover what gets you out of bed in the morning. What core pursuits do you want to explore? Your list probably won’t include tiny burrow-dwelling mammals of the order Rodentia. That’s okay. Cyndi and Chelsy Cross have that covered. Whatever you select, it will be something perfectly suited for you. So, find it and go get it.

Please note Cyndi and Chelsy have given us permission to share their story and photos.


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