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On Island Profile: Shuler Brown

Feb. 8, 2009 — After 27 years on the job at V.I. National Park, Senior Protection Specialist Shuler Brown, 57, retired Dec. 31.
"The highlight of my career was when President Clinton visited here," Brown says. "We were tasked with assisting the Secret Service with security."
Clinton visited twice in the 1990s with his wife, Hillary, now U.S. secretary of state. They stayed on St. Thomas, but the park assisted with their visit.
The Nevis-born Brown spent his entire career at national parks in the Virgin Islands. While most of the years were on St. John, he spent several years detailed to Buck Island Reef National Monument and Christiansted National Historic Site, both on St. Croix.
Brown also worked often on Hassel Island, located in Charlotte Amalie Harbor and part of the St. John park.
"Just going to Hassel Island with the kids was another highlight," he says.
Brown escorted school science classes on day trips to the island.
He retired because the National Park Service requires that enforcement officers stop working when they reach age 57.
"They figure you're getting older," he says, laughing.
Brown began his National Park Service career as a maintenance worker in January 1982 on St John, happy to be part of a park that helps preserve island history.
"I always liked history from the time I was a small boy," he says.
In 1985 he shifted to the Enforcement Division, moving up the ranks as park ranger, supervisory park ranger, chief park ranger, and finally as a senior protection specialist.
By working in law enforcement, Brown had an opportunity to protect the historical features scattered throughout the park. He was part of the park's management team and played a role in the management decision process.
Park Superintendent Mark Hardgrove called Brown someone local youths should look up to. Brown started work at the park at a time when there were far fewer jobs available to local residents.
"He broke the glass ceiling and opened many doors," Hardgrove says.
Brown led "quietly," Hardgrove says, crediting him for getting behind the other park employees on his team. Hardgrove also pointed out that Brown has a vast knowledge of the park that's hard to replace.
"He knew every trail and how to operate the boats," Hardgrove says.
Throughout his career, Brown was involved in marine patrols, search-and-rescue operations, helicopter over-flights, law enforcement training and seminars, school and community programs, recruitments, and dignitary visits to the islands. He was instrumental in the installation of the alarm and camera system throughout the park.
"It was a federal requirement to have security," he says.
After the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Brown says he was instrumental in working on the park's homeland security issues.
Brown received a diploma in wildlife and forestry from the North American School of Conservation in Scranton, Penn. He also earned an associate's degree in police science, a bachelor of arts degree in social sciences, and a master's degree in public administration, all from the University of the Virgin Islands. He served in the V.I. National Guard for 15 years.
He has been married 30 years to Gwendolyn Brown, a retired educator. The couple has five children. They are Dr. Gerren Brown-Perry and Dorian, Kirk, Kurt and Aquanette Brown.
In addition to visiting his children on the mainland, Brown plans to spend the next couple of months relaxing.
"I like to go to the beach and do a little walking," he says.
Brown, who lives on St. Thomas, also spends time on St. John.
"I have lots of friends on St. John," he says. "It's like my second home."
After the initial ease of retirement wears off, who knows?
"I might try to do something part time," he says.
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