A Houston High School graduate has been named superintendent of Montauk State Park, the sprawling 3,000-acre recreation site east of Licking that attracts about 500,000 annually.
Kaylyn Dalbom, who began duties Nov. 16, will serve as the point of contact for the entirety of the park operations. For Dalbom, it is a homecoming. She worked during the summer of 2010 with the first State Park Youth Corps. “Needless to say I did not know it would lead to a career with Missouri DNR,” she said.
She grew up on a 220-acre farm near Yukon that raised Limousin cattle and performed custom hay business. There the family utilized conservation practices in the management of the farm.
A graduate of Houston High School, Dalbom’s parents both have agriculture and natural resources backgrounds. Her father, Clint, worked 32 years for the Missouri Department of Conservation in various positions. Her mother, Karen Langley Dalbom, was employed as an interpreter at Roaring River State Park, and also worked for USDA for several years at Cassville.
While at HHS, she said she found her true passion through the Houston FFA Chapter. “I knew I could work in agriculture and natural resources if I pursued an agriculture education degree,” she said. “I was active in several contests while in FFA, but my favorite was the FFA grasslands contest. I also enjoyed my ag power class, which is where I did an exterior restoration on a 1959 Allis Chalmers D-14, which I grew up hauling and raking hay with.” Dalbom said she still has the tractor, and she is a member of the Ozarks Older Iron Club. While at Houston, she participated in Texas County 4-H Shooting Sports Club, the Houston High School Marching Band, Houston United Methodist Church and Texas County Farm Bureau.
She went on to earn an associate degree from Missouri State University-West Plains in 2011 and then transferred to College of the Ozarks and received a bachelor’s degree in agriculture education in fall 2013. In 2018, she graduated from Missouri State University in Springfield with a master’s of natural and applied science degree in agriculture/wildlife management.
Along the way, she earned experience in her field. First with the earlier Montauk program. While there she worked with the park maintenance crew on grounds maintenance projects and the park naturalist on stewardship and interpretation. She later attended the State Park Youth Corps Governor’s Banquet, and received her National FFA Degree in fall 2021. “It was an incredible honor,” she said.
By summer 2011, she worked as an area biologist intern for the Missouri Department of Conservation and returned to Montauk in 2012 as a seasonal naturalist.
In 2013, she was at Willard High School as an agriculture education instructor. In 2014, she was employed for the Wright/Texas Soil and Water Conservation Districts and as a maintenance worker on weekends at Montauk. The following year, she returned to Montauk to work at a campground check station for the 2015 season.
In 2016, she accepted a full-time position with DNR in Jefferson City with the Division of Environmental Quality, Water Protection Program. For three years, she sampled streams for water quality around the state. In 2019, she began work as the assistant superintendent at Montauk.
MONTAUK SUPERINTENDENT JOB
As superintendent, Dalbom oversees all park operations, including six maintenance workers, two park assistant superintendents, an administrative staff and two park naturalists, including one at Grand Gulf State Park near Thayer. She also works with Montauk Lodge and the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Montauk Fish Hatchery.
“It is a busy place to work, and there is certainly never a dull moment,” Dalbom said. “Some days you are an electrician, custodial staff, HR, groundskeeper, wildlife rehabilitation and natural resource interpreter.”
Dalbom said she’s excited to return to Montauk.
“I truly believe it is by God’s grace that I have been brought back to where I started,” she said. “The people I work with are tremendous. The park staff here practically raised me and others who worked in the State Park Youth Corps. The same is true for the top-notch campground hosts that work here during the regular recreational season.”
As one of three trout parks in Missouri, Montauk attracts about 500,000 people annually.
“We take a sense of pride in providing outdoor recreational opportunities to the citizens of Missouri and surrounding states,” Dalbom said.