Herma Baggley found her field of dreams in the meadows of Yellowstone
National Park, not in her native Iowa, when she served the National Park
Service as the first permanent female park naturalist in Wyoming. First
as a seasonal at Old Faithful in 1929 and 1930 and later in 1931 as a
permanent ranger, she set out to practice the art of interpreting the
splendors of Yellowstone. She drew upon her experience as an instructor
at the University of Idaho and as an inquisitive botanist with a
Master's degree from that university in her National Park Service work
as guide, lecturer, and museum worker.
Baggley moved from her rich field laboratory in 1933, but continued
her infectious enthusiasm for education and educating others by
co-authoring in 1936 Plants of Yellowstone National Park, a rare
guide still used today.
She was a pioneer in her field of botany and education and enjoyed
the companionship of other park pioneers, including husband George, who
retired from the National Park Service in 1968, and Dr. Walter McDougal,
a park naturalist and her co-author of the plants guide.
When she died in 1981, Herma Baggley left Yellowstone a legacy of
information (she first identified the rubber boa snake) and nature trail
development. Though seemingly modest at the time, her path established a
way for others like her to follow.