In this series of articles, we feature several members who make up our amazing sisterhood. They all come from different backgrounds and have different passions and talents, but they all share one commonality: They are Tri Delta.
Growing up in Wyoming, Kalyca Hunter Spinler, Wyoming, always loved the outdoors. Her connection to nature attracted her to a career that would allow her to work outside and protect national parks and forests.
“When I was in high school, I thought I wanted to be a game warden — it goes along with having a connection to the natural world. I want to feel like I can do a tiny part to help out with preserving nature.”
Today, Kalyca is a wildland firefighter. Every summer she fights the fires that threaten national parks and forests across the U.S.
But the road to wildland firefighter wasn’t straightforward. Kalyca studied geological and Earth sciences at the University of Wyoming. It was there that she also found Tri Delta. Although she didn’t join until later in her college career, Kalyca already had a close camaraderie with many of the women through intramural sports. She says she knew early on that you get out of your Tri Delta membership what you put into it, and she wanted to make the experience worthwhile.
After college, Kalyca moved to Tucson, Arizona, where she connected with the local alumnae chapter. While in Tucson, Kalyca received her teaching certification and worked as a park ranger. She facilitated programs with kids’ groups that included hiking and camping. Wanting to be prepared for any emergency that might occur while working with children in the wilderness, Kalyca received her EMT certification.
“I like to think that things happen for a reason,” Kalyca says. “Because I had my EMT certification I was on a list serve for women in emergency and fire service. They sent out a Facebook post looking for women interested in becoming firefighters.”
Kalyca applied to the program and was accepted. After completing the training, she got a job with the National Park Service and was assigned to Saguaro National Park in Tucson during the summer of 2013.
She remembers the first fire she fought — it was a tiny fire in the desert outside of Tucson. Kalyca recalls that at one point during a lull in the action her boss looked at her and asked her how she was doing.
“I was grinning from ear to ear. And he just said, ‘Yeah, you got it — you caught the bug.’ Firefighting is one of those things that if you get into it and you find you enjoy it, it becomes something you get hooked on.”
Her time in Saguaro National Park was followed by a stint fighting fires in Coronado National Forest, also in Arizona, where she began learning how to fight wildfires with a light fire engine.
Last summer, Kalyca also fought fires in California, where she worked on a helicopter crew. After relocating to Arkansas, she had the chance to work for Ouachita National Forest. As a firefighter, Kalyca only works during summer months, but she says her dream job is to work in park service full time.
Much of her work relies on her ability to collaborate with others and be part of a team — skills Kalyca says she developed in Tri Delta. “Tri Delta taught me how to work with a lot of different types of people and personalities,” she says. “I’ve been able to improve the way I speak with other people and how I work on collaborative projects.”
There are more than 200,000 Tri Deltas around the world who make up our sisterhood. Tri Delta wants to hear from YOU! What makes you unique? Tell us on social media using the hashtag #IamTriDelta.