It could have turned out differently, much differently, for Craig resident John Husband.
Very easily, he could have spent his life toiling inside the white, sterilized world of a pharmacy, rather than managing the more than 1 million acres of public land he does today as field manager for the Bureau of Land Management’s Little Snake Field Office in Craig.
In high school, Husband spent a year working as a pharmacist’s assistant and thought enough of the occupation that he spent a year at Purdue University, working his way through the school’s pre-pharmacy program.
When the time came to begin pharmacy school, however, he balked.
He told his academic counselor, whose jaw dropped at the suggestion. Nonetheless, Husband had a new career path.
Drawing on childhood roots of hunting, camping and fishing the grounds of a 250-acre Valparaiso, Ind., farm, the young Husband switched gears and decided on a career in forestry.
Close to 32 years later, it’s safe to say Husband’s decision stuck.
“I just realized … that I didn’t want to stand behind a counter the rest of my life,” Husband said.
Husband spent part of his Monday reflecting on his career with the BLM.
That career will sunset this week after more than three decades.
Husband, who has been the lead BLM administrator in Craig since he transferred here from Rawlins, Wyo., in 1992, is retiring at the end of the week.
His last day is Thursday, New Year’s Eve. A replacement has not been selected.
“I like to do a lot of things outside of work, and I have trouble fitting them all in around work,” said Husband, 55, who is a member of the local 1340 Band, which performs at various times throughout the year in Craig and Moffat County. “Some of those things on that list are the same as when I was a kid.
“I think it’ll be great. Don’t get me wrong, I do love my job. … but I’m going onto another chapter in my life.”
He said he and his wife, Janele Husband, a retired elementary school teacher, would spend their retirement traveling and enjoying the great outdoors — hunting, fishing and camping.
They have trips lined up for Mexico and Alaska, and plenty of other places in mind, Husband said.
“We’ve got friends all over the place,” he said.
He’ll also stay a member of the 1340 Band, which performs a hybrid of country-rock-blues covers and original numbers.
Before taking over the Little Snake Field Office in 1992, Husband worked for the BLM’s Great Divide Resource Area office in Rawlins for six years, as a planning team leader and renewable resources supervisor.
During college, he worked for the Forest Service in Oregon and Washington for three seasons as a wildland firefighter.
He’s spent most of his working life with the federal government, he said, and hasn’t regretted the decision.
As field manager for the Little Snake Field Office, Husband has been tasked with overseeing 30 to 45 employees and about 1.3 million surface acres of public land in Moffat and Routt counties.
Although the BLM’s mission is “very big and diverse” — from selling coal to managing uses such as recreation and grazing to wild horse herds — and the job can sometimes seem daunting, Husband said he’s enjoyed his profession.
“It really has been a pleasant experience working for the BLM in this community,” Husband said. “Land and resources are inextricably linked here. It’s such a large part of the quality of life here. … I feel very fortunate to have gotten into this job and stuck with it.”
Husband has two children, son Zach, 33, of Tuscon, Ariz., and daughter Katy, 29, of Denver, and two stepchildren, Conner and Colby Walton. He and Janele have been married for eight years.
They plan to stay in Craig through their retirement.
“Craig is our home,” Husband said. “We like the area. … The outdoor activities … this is just a great area for that. You can’t hardly beat it.”