Not many people can lay claim to babysitting a mountain lion for two weeks or keeping a mouse farm in their laundry room to feed injured raptors. Don Paul expounded on the time he wrestled the six-month-old mountain lion into the bathroom to wash it off. He said it was a real challenge and the bathroom was a mess afterward.
Don and his wife Kayleen have had an interesting marriage and supported each other in their careers. Kayleen attended Ogden High School, where her dad taught history and social studies. She descended from a long line of teachers and felt that she would follow in that path, but along came the television show, Dr. Kildare. She fell in love with him and decided to go into the medical field.
Kayleen was a candy striper during high school and then worked as a clerk in the emergency room registration office. After graduating from Ogden High as valedictorian, she attended Weber State University. She met her future husband, Don, at the hospital where he was working as a nurse’s aide while attending college.
Don said, “My family took trips in the outdoors so my mother, an artist, could paint.” She was a teacher and practicing artist. They would stay overnight, so she could paint both the night scenes and the morning light. He said it was paradise for a child as he could run around in the countryside. His dad was a great outdoor story teller so his interests naturally leaned that way.
Don playfully told tales of his dates with Kayleen, one of which included renting a plane. Kayleen said, “I duped Don into thinking I was an outdoor girl before we were married--because I wanted him to propose to me!” But she says, “It’s worked out well. With his job with the state, he has visited many places and been able to fulfill that interest without me.”
Kayleen received her nursing degree and worked in Salt Lake City, in a step-down ICU at University Hospital. As soon as she could, and not one day later, she transferred to emergency care. She worked for Intermountain Health Care and after they moved to Riverdale, she worked for McKay-Dee in the emergency department as a nurse, then 14 years as ER manager. She retired as director of Critical Care services after 12 years in that capacity. She said that “It was never boring. Just when you thought you had seen it all, something new would surprise you. It was fast-paced.”
Somehow she found time to serve in the Emergency Nurses Association, which is a national organization, and twice as president of the ENA Utah State Council. Don said about his wife, “Kayleen set the stage for high quality emergency room care.” Kayleen even has a room named in her honor at the new McKay-Dee Hospital. She also had the privilege of working on the 2002 Olympic committee to set up emergency care for attendees.
Don said “I majored in sports in high school. Academics wasn’t my thing.” After an LDS mission in Berlin, Germany, he attended WSU. While in college, he had the opportunity to work for the U.S. Forest Service, Region 4 Experimental Station insect research group. After obtaining his degree in botany and zoology, he began working for the Division of Wildlife Resources; his tenure with that organization lasted 34 years. Then he spent six more years working for the Intermountain West Joint Venture, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service public/private habitat conservation partnership.
His main wildlife employment focus centered on the Great Salt Lake ecosystem with emphasis on migratory birds. The recovery of the endangered Peregrine falcon and large-scale aquatic bird surveys were two main projects Don had responsibility for.
He was involved with the Water Bird Council for the Americas, which covers the Western hemisphere including the Caribbean and the Bahamas. Kayleen said she would go with him to the fun places such as Niagara Falls and the Caribbean. Three projects he is most proud of during his career were that he was a principal biologist in recovery of the Utah population of the Peregrine falcon.
Don worked on the Great Salt Lake Eco System Project, which established a base line of migratory bird occurrence with the GSL ecosystem. This was a five-year cooperation of federal agencies: BLM, Fish and Wildlife Service, several state agencies and trained volunteers. He, with others, would walk, drive an ATV or pilot an airboat around the entire shoreline every 10 days from April to October collecting species-specific aquatic bird populations. Don, by the way, has outstanding one-of-a-kind wildlife photos that he has taken over the years.
Don is a founding member of the International Linking Communities, Wetlands, and Migratory Birds Program. The organization’s goal is to link conservation of migratory bird species where the birds breed, migrate and winter—from Canada to Mexico. The organization supports community-based programs and involves private and public partnerships. The organization also supports environmental education (a K-12 program), a university student exchange program and eco-tourism.
Kayleen concludes, “While we both have been able to follow our passions and have exciting careers, served as faculty at national conferences and received awards in our professions, our greatest achievement has been our three children.” Ryan (Kami) lives in Cedar City where Ryan is a curator for The Frontier Homestead State Park. He has two children. Kara is a teacher in Kaysville at Endeavor Elementary School. Melissa (Trent) followed in her dad’s footsteps and is active in conservation. After college she started her own business (The Painter Otter) and is a stay-at-home mom. Her husband is an animator, and they have two children.
The Pauls moved to Mountain Green 10 years ago and have added much to our community.