Meet your neighbor: Todd Overbye loves Colorado National Monument

Denise Hight
Special to the Free Press

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Denise: How long have you lived in Fruita?

Todd: I have lived all my life in Fruita except for 10 years that I lived in Cortez when I was working at Hovenweep National Monument. I graduated from Fruita Monument [High School] in 1986 and from Mesa State College (now Colorado Mesa University) in 1992.

Denise: What was it like growing up here?

Todd: I had a typical small-town upbringing. It was great. I played Little League baseball and football. I spent my summers swimming in the old outdoor pool in Fruita and hiking the trails in the area. Fruita had fewer residents then and there weren’t many stores here, so we had to go shopping for most things in Grand Junction.

Denise: What is your occupation?

Todd: I work for the National Park Service (NPS) as the lead supervisory Visitor Use Assistant (VUA) at Colorado National Monument. I am in charge of remittance of the funds collected at the entrance stations and campground and the scheduling and training of the visitor-use assistants who work at the entrance stations. I take their training very seriously as the VUA is usually the first person the visitor meets when they enter the monument.

Denise: How long have you worked for the National Park Service?

Todd: My entire career has been with the NPS. I started as a summer seasonal employee at Colorado National Monument in 1990. I worked in fee collection some years, and in interpretation and education in others. In 2003 I was offered the job of Chief of Interpretation at Hovenweep and Natural Bridges National Monuments. It was a very rewarding job; I was in charge of visitor programs, training and coaching seasonal employees, and recruiting and training volunteers.

Denise: When and why did you return?

Todd: We always had the intention of returning to Fruita. I had the opportunity to return to the monument in May 2014, and my wife Nia got a job as a medical technician at St. Mary’s Hospital. We have two children, Jonathan, who will be 8 in January, and Makenna, age 6, and we want to raise our children here.

Denise: Do you plan to stay in Fruita?

Todd: We have no intention of ever living anywhere else. My parents, Larry and Connie Overbye, still live here in the same house they bought when I was 9 years old. I love the canyons and trails of Colorado National Monument and the joys of living in Fruita. Fruita will always be our home.

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