The platonic ideal of a park ranger—a rugged outdoors type most at home in wild places—infrequently corresponds with the reality of the underpaid, beleaguered government employees working the information desks at America’s state parks. Gabe Verduzco, however, is an exception. Having loved plants since he was a kid in California’s fertile Central Valley, Verduzco now devotes his professional and personal life to maintaining and protecting the native trees, flowers and fauna of Southern California. One recent Friday morning, Verduzco brought Stephanie d’Arc Taylor on a tour of the South Coast Botanic Garden in Palos Verdes and chatted with her as he surveyed native trees for evidence of invasive pests. This story is from Kinfolk Issue Forty-Five Buy Now Related Stories Arts & Culture Garden Issue 45 Piet Oudolf The Dutch designer bringing life—and death—to traditional gardens. Arts & Culture Issue 45 Thomas MacDonell The conservationist transforming the Highlands. Arts & Culture Issue 45 Cara Marie Piazza The New Yorker wringing color from the city's waste and weeds. Arts & Culture Issue 45 Ayana Omilade Flewellen A scholar at one with the elements. Arts & Culture Issue 45 Ella Al-Shamahi The scientist digging for history in the world’s most hostile landscapes. Arts & Culture Issue 47 Alice Sheppard On dance as a channel to commune with the body—even when it hurts.