This annual award is given to America's top rangers who dedicate their careers to serving park visitors while preserving the country's public lands for future generations.
Frank Martin, Park Ranger, Lake Bistineau State Park, Doyline, LA
Frank Martin began his career as a Park Ranger in 2004. Martin is a remarkable ranger with the innate ability to connect with people of different cultures and backgrounds and an outstandingly friendly personality.
Martin's unique capability in everything to do with public relations and customer service is only matched by his equally effective manner in maintaining park rules and regulations. A simple word from Martin is most often all that is needed to adequately manage objectionable behavior or activities with park boundaries. Martin epitomizes the park's policy of 'cooperative compliance' in all matters of enforcement.
Martin also participated in rescue and recovery operations in New Orleans during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
"Frank Martin goes above and beyond the call of duty. He is customer friendly and is always trying to make the customer feel comfortable. When we had the hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, he volunteered to go to New Orleans and was instrumental in helping the local sheriff and New Orleans Police. He worked onsite 24-7 for 14 days straight. When he came back to the park, Martin oversaw over 500 evacuees here in our park and kept everything under control, and we had no problems with any of our evacuees, except for some who liked it so much they did not want to leave!! I could write so much more about the goodness that Frank Martin does here on our park. He is good with the hay rides, and telling stories to the children. He helps with the programs, Halloween, Mardi Gras, Easter, and many other programs that just happen on a daily basis."
Kyle Bullock, Senior Park Ranger, Edisto Beach State Park, Edisto, SC
Kyle Bullock began his public service career as an hourly employee at area parks bordering two of South Carolina's reservoirs before being hired as a full-time Park Ranger for Hunting Island State Park. Bullock has continued to work his way up the ranks and is now Senior Park Ranger at Edisto Beach State Park, where his quality customer service skills impact thousands of visitors annually.
Bullock effectively manages the park's large and very busy campground as well as properly adheres to the preservation of many of the park's natural and cultural resources. Edisto's visitors recognize and appreciate Bullock's commitment to the park's environment, as well as the time he spends ensuring each visitor's stay is one full of lasting and enjoyable memories.
"I have never met a more enthusiastic person talking with such excitement about a park. You can tell he really loves what he does. I believe he loves the people that do the volunteering, he always seems to know the answers to my questions concerning not only trivia/history of Hunting Island, but so much about the history of SC. The colleges, the Low Country, the Piedmont area, I could go on and on. If there, by chance, is something he doesn't know, he'll find out and let you know. He is very approachable, whether on duty or off, enjoying life with his beautiful family. A very special asset to your state!"
Donald Oneppo, Park Ranger, Landsford Canal State Park, Catawba, SC
Don Oneppo has called Landsford Canal State Park home throughout his entire 30-year career. Visitors come to Landsford Canal expecting to be greeted and "entertained" by Oneppo who is on a first-name basis with many of the park's regular guests. Oneppo is a river enthusiast and spends countless hours assisting customers. From answering basic questions and helping visitors with paddling equipment, to maintaining the park grounds looking great, guests at Landsford Canal are very appreciative of Oneppo's knowledge and work ethic.
"Don has been at this park for 30 years and knows just about everything about the park. He leads guided walking tours as well as paddling tours. He is friendly, well respected and loved by all who visit the park. He loves the park and all it has to offer. It is not just a job to him but his life's work. We are fortunate to know him and have his wisdom and experience as our guide."
Jason Guillory, Park Ranger, Chicot State Park, Ville Platte, LA
Jason Guillory is a highly dedicated park ranger always willing to step up to the plate. Extremely well liked by his peers and supervisors, Guillory can always be counted on at a moment's notice.
Before coming to work at Chicot State Park, Guillory served nine years in the U.S. Army, where he was awarded numerous medals, ribbons, badges and decorations for his service. Since August 2007, Guillory has been employed at Chicot State Park as a Park Ranger. He is very friendly to guests and is often willing to go out of this way to provide great customer service. He is highly motivated which comes through in his daily duties. Guillory has proven to be a valued asset to Louisiana State Parks and is very deserving of this award.
"Intelligence, work ethic, integrity, kindness, honor. All these things could be used to define Ranger Jason Guillory. He is also a proud father, a patriot and a hero. But these are really just facets of a truly outstanding individual. I would trust Ranger Guillory with my life and my family's lives, with that being said I cannot think of a higher recommendation for Ranger of the Year."
Al James, Park Manager, Landsford Canal State Park, Catawba, SC
Al James began his career with South Carolina State Park Service in 1992 as an interpreter for Woods Bay State Park. He then spent the next several years educating visitors on the unique aspects of "Carolina Bay." In 1996, James began his current position as manager of Landsford Canal State Park located along the shores of the Catawba River.
The Catawba River at Landsford Canal is home to one of the largest populations of the rare Rocky Shoals Spider Lily. The Catawba River also attracts numerous canoe and kayak enthusiasts. James was recently recognized by the Governor of South Carolina for the heroic rescue of a stranded kayaker along
the Catawba River's rapids. James's commitment to park visitors and natural resources do not go unnoticed.
"My family often refers to Al as Super Al. He can do anything and everything that is brought upon him. My family owns a kayak and canoe livery service and we often run our business out of LCSP. Al is always available to help us and give his advice. When he is not busy helping park goers, Al is one of the most interesting people to talk to. He knows just about everything and could tell you anything you need to know about the park or Catawba River. In addition to being an amazing park ranger on land, Al James is equally great out on the water. He was recognized by Gov. Mark Sanford by his excellent work in rescuing a kayaker stranded in the river during floods. Al James is no doubt someone you can depend on for anything; whether it is a good laugh or some intriguing knowledge about LCSP, Al James is the man for the job. For all of the reasons above, I along with many others, believe that Al James deserves the title of Ranger of the Year."