Dennis Teitzel, the new Prineville BLM District manager, refers to his nearly 10-year career with the BLM as his second life.
Prior to July 2007, he had wrapped up a 30-year career in the U.S. Marine Corps.
"I started off as an enlisted man," he said of his military career. "I made the rank of staff sergeant, which is E6, and then I went through the warrant officer program and attained chief warrant officer 4. Then, I converted over to the limited officer duty program and then to the unrestricted officer program and retired as a major."
Teitzel, who is now 57, didn't consider working for the BLM a long-term, thought-out plan, but rather an opportunity that presented itself as he was about to retire from the military.
"A position opened up and it was close to where my family was living at the time, in Montana," he recalls.
In Butte, Montana, Teitzel started out as an administrative officer. He spent four years at that job before moving to the state office in Billings, where he was a branch chief.
"I was there for two and a half years and then went up to Glennallen, Alaska, as a field manager," he said. "I was there for three and a half years."
His next stop was Prineville, where he was chosen to fill the BLM's district manager position that was left vacant when Carol Benkosky retired. He started the Monday before last.
Although Teitzel didn't initially view the BLM as a long-term career choice, it didn't take him long to find an affection for it.
"Once I got into it, it was really looking at the opportunities and how I could apply my past experiences and skills and make a more meaningful contribution to the bureau and to the public," he said. "I really like to hear what people's concerns are, what makes a difference to them. I like to figure out what the problems are and come up with solutions to make things better."
Prineville is new to Teitzel. Prior to taking the job, he had never visited the community. However, he found with some preliminary research that the area offered a lot to like. Not only did he conclude that it's a nice place, it offered a lot of diversity for outdoor recreational pursuits.
"Anything outdoors I love to go do — hunting, fishing, camping, off-roading, ATVs, UTVs, rafting, boating. That was probably one of the big draws is the ability to go out and recreate year-round."
At this point, he is living in a rental in Madras, but is looking for a home in Prineville once one becomes avaiable.
One week on the job, Teitzel is in information-gathering mode. He plans to assess what the issues and concerns are for the Prineville district and get to know the staff and public. He hopes to figure out where he can make a difference and "do the right thing and make everybody's experience better."
"It's building on the experiences of the past to apply those and learn how to move forward," he said.