Local Soldier’s Service Celebrated

Local Soldier’s Service Celebrated
Parker Hudson

POCOMOKE CITY – A few years ago, Parker Hudson was one of the thousands of U.S. soldiers patrolling the deserts of Afghanistan.

Today, you’ll find him back on the Eastern Shore, feeding George the snapping turtle or cleaning fish tanks at the Delmarva Discovery Center and Museum. He’s not complaining about the change of pace.

“Every day it’s something different,” said Hudson, 24. “Some days I’m working on fish tanks other days I’m tearing down walls.”

As head aquarist and construction manager at Pocomoke’s Discovery Center, Hudson handles everything from feeding the fish, amphibians and reptiles to performing building maintenance. He’s looking forward to working on the river otter exhibit planned for next year.

Hudson fills a vital role at the facility, which is why staff wanted to honor him this week as he marked his final day of military service. The Discovery Center hosted a luncheon to celebrate Wednesday.

“We are very proud of Parker and his service to our country,” said Stacey Weisner, president and CEO of the Discovery Center. “I thought it was important to publically thank and recognize Parker at such an important time in his life and to show our appreciation for his service.”

Hudson enlisted in the U.S. Army following high school. After a four year commitment, he spent another two years as a member of the National Guard. That service has now ended, and Hudson, who lives in Salisbury, splits his time between working at the Discovery Center and studying at Salisbury University. He’s hoping a degree in environmental studies will lead to a career as a park ranger.

“I think that’s a good mix of my skill sets,” he said.

In the meantime, Hudson’s enjoying his work at the Discovery Center, a facility dedicated to celebrating the region’s human and natural heritage. Much of his tasks include caring for the fish, turtles and snakes that make up the museum exhibits.

“Fish are the most difficult to keep alive,” he said, adding that maintaining water quality was vital. Though Hudson’s duties might appear menial to the untrained eye, he’s learned the intricacies involved in animal care and enjoys the opportunities to learn new skills that the Discovery Center has afforded him.

Hudson says most people are surprised to learn that it was his 10 months in Afghanistan that tended to prove tedious.

“You see the war movies and think you’re going to be fighting all the time and you’re going to be a big hero,” he said. “It’s not that. There’s a lot of time you’re just hanging around.”

When he was on patrol, Hudson traveled through local towns in an effort to promote the country’s new government and promote stability. As the company medic, he was responsible for treating injured soldiers.

“Everything from the sniffles to missing limbs,” he said. “It could really range at any given time.”

While the patrols provided Hudson with a challenge, the downtime on base was less enjoyable.

“The time you have sitting around is a killer because you start thinking too much,” he said, adding that most soldiers tried to occupy themselves by working out and watching movies.

Nevertheless when his four-year contract was up Hudson wanted to continue serving his country and enlisted in the National Guard. In an effort to continue his education and with the lack of a clear conflict in the country’s future, when that contract expired Hudson opted not to renew it. He expects his job at the Discovery Center and his coursework at Salisbury University to provide him with plenty to do in the foreseeable future.

“It keeps me on my toes,” he said.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.