From the frying pan into the fire

Joy Ufford photo Darren Hull is the new executive director of the Sublette County Chamber of Commerce, based in the Visitor Center at the corner of Tyler and Pine streets in downtown Pinedale.

Adventurer Hull embarks on a new challenge

Darren Hull

enjoys designing “adventure race” courses

that call for proficient use of a compass,

map and technology to forge a trail – think

of The Drift 100 and The Surly Pika, for

examples.

Those way-finding tools might not be

so handy in Hull’s latest adventure – as

the new executive director of the Sublette

County Chamber of Commerce and Visitor

Center.

After several weeks of “shadowing” and

asking questions of departing director Jennifer

Zook, Hull appeared fairly calm in the

face of a greater challenge – tying up loose

ends before this weekend’s Green River

Rendezvous.

With many years of overlapping activities,

Pinedale volunteers and businesses are

tuned into how their parts fit together. Hull,

however, is looking at the annual tradition

from a new perspective.

Joy Ufford photo

Darren Hull is the new executive director of the Sublette County Chamber of Commerce, based in the Visitor Center at the corner of Tyler and Pine streets in

downtown Pinedale.

“It’s hard stepping in at the 11th hour,”

he admitted after answering a vendor’s

phone call, tracking down who’s in charge

of Saturday’s Rendezvous Ramble – Ken

Konicek – and finding out what time people

gather to line up before the Rendezvous

Parade – 10:30 in the morning.

“Right now I’m fielding questions and

lining out the vendor details,” Hull said.

“We have the parade to work on – people

don’t plan ahead; they come flooding in in

the last minutes.”

Hull, his wife Keri and daughters Kaelynn,

4, and McKinley, going on 2, moved

to Pinedale four years ago from Alaska.

There they owned Alaska Adventure Racing,

which gives Hull a solid handle about

managing large events.

“It’s not quite like the Rendezvous, but

I’ve put on events in town. We helped with

The Drift and Surly Pika as volunteers and

built the courses. I understand what I’m

getting into,” he said, adding he will probably

have a lot more questions.

After Rendezvous, Hull will stretch farther

throughout the county – he attended the

Marbleton Town Council meeting Monday

night and introduced himself. “Jennifer did

a great job of starting to build those relationships

and grow the Chamber.”

The small towns, rural lifestyle and

landscapes of Sublette County are what

drew his family here to begin with, he

added.

Born and raised in Laurel, Mont., (before

there was a Wal-Mart), Hull’s rancher

and farmer grandparents instilled a family

work ethic, resiliency and pride that also

help build an identity. That’s what he and

his wife want for their family. When Keri

was offered a job at the Pinedale Medical

Clinic, they made the move.

“They are outdoor kids,” he said of their

daughters. “That’s why we’re here – kids

need wilderness and agriculture to learn

resilience.”

Hull taught special education in the Pinedale

Middle School for the past three

years and with his “social work background,”

finds that his teaching experiences

developed his “dealing with people

skills.”

“It’s a little bit of a career shift but that’s

okay,” he said. “We are very invested in

Pinedale and it’s another way to invest in

the community, to learn new skills and

bring a love for the community and the

county to help in another way.”

Hull said he wants to follow his predecessor’s

trail to bring the entire county

together “as a whole,” not just municipalities

but also outlying communities with

new business development and making the

most of what is here.

A major goal is to watch local kids graduate

and stay here in Sublette County for

good year-round jobs, “not just a boom-andbust

cycle but to match the high quality of

life we enjoy here.”

New Internet options, downtown partnerships

and countywide connections are

some ways Hull sees “change” and “slow

but sustained growth” to bring this about,

which might bring more people calling

Sublette County “home.”

“There’s a tension to have change coming

without losing your identity,” Hull said.

“It’s much bigger than this office, but everybody

plays a role. … In the past, people

had to go to the city (for their work) and

people are now choosing their quality of

life and then putting their business in place.

You don’t want growth because you don’t

want the place you love to change, but I

think growth is important because small

towns throughout this country are dying.”

He is “thankful” to the Board of Sublette

County Commissioners found the money

to budget for the Visitor Center for another

year – “The Visitor Center role is so critical

to conversations and relationships.”

This county’s history, landscapes, trails,

natural beauty, wildlife bring tourists,

which Hull supports very much, and he envisions

year-round opportunities for locals

with unique passions and special niches as

well.

“Eighty percent of this county is public

land,” he said. “We can build relationships

with the land managers for even more outdoor

activities. There’s a lot we can do and

still not lose our identity.”

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