2018 Semi-Finalists

Congratulations to all our semi-finalists below!

City of Sidney

Justin Aselage

City of Sidney, Parks and Recreation Department, Ohio

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Ranger Justin Aselage started working for the Sidney Parks and Recreation Department in June of 2013 and within just a few months after his instruction with a Sidney Police training officer, apprehended a bank robber. While that is impressive for someone with such little service time, he has been an even bigger asset to the city as a ranger in the parks.

Justin is interactive with the citizens in the over 450 acres of park land and we receive compliments often about his demeanor, even when he is writing a warning or ticket. He is a public relation star for the parks department and the city of Sidney. He interacts with children throughout the year by being a part of the city's recreation programs. He has implemented a nature walk program for kids in the summer, met with grade schools and provided the educational experience for busloads of students.

During the recent 70th Anniversary celebration for the 220-acre nature preserve called Tawawa Park, he offered a nature walk to those that came out to the celebration. Notes from educators are sent in to the department thanking him for his time and patience with the young children and comment how interactive he is with the kids.

Justin also assists the Sidney Police department with parade details, backups to domestic incidents and has been the lead on several pursuits in the city. The road patrol officers appreciate his readiness to assist them in what is many times a caustic situation. Justin is ready to assist wherever he can. While the city parks are still open during the winter months, the cold weather obviously reduces the number of park patrons. Ranger Aselage takes off his uniform during this time and assists with maintenance in the department. From pouring concrete, installing play equipment, plowing snow and taking the lead with the parks department's Ash tree remediation program, Justin is willing to assist wherever he can.

Under his leadership, park staff and contractors have removed over 1000 Ash trees in the parks that died due to the Emerald Ash Borer. While on patrol during the summer months, Justin completes a triage in the parks and prioritizes which trees need to be removed first for safety reasons. He then determines which trees will be removed by parks staff and which are to be felled by a contracted certified arborist. He works closely with the contractor and staff to make sure the removals are done in a safe and timely manner

In closing, Ranger Justin Aselage has made his mark in the department and the community with his open personality, love of children and nature and his work ethic.

three island parks

Jamie Bigsby

Three Island Crossing State Park, Idaho

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Jamie Bigsby is the hardest working and most dedicated park ranger imaginable. It is truly a pleasure and a privilege to work with her. Whether it be the most disgusting mess or most challenging mechanical repair, there is not a job she won’t tackle. She is skilled and experienced in many more areas than her principal accountabilities as park ranger. She’s owned a concrete business and even been a helideck firefighter. Jamie can certainly be depicted as a present-day Amelia Earhart, and she goes the extra mile to take care of our 134,000+ annual visitors.

Jamie is involved in the community and any co-sponsored activity from beginning to end. She is an integral part in the planning and implementation of all the numerous annual events. She works on her days off, and even stays late in the evenings to attend every meeting leading up to every event. Once, we had a last-minute request to host a guest speaker and plan an impromptu interpretive program on night sky viewing for our customers. Jamie actually spent the night in her car to ensure the speaker had a ride to and from the airport and around town for supper and anything else he might need before, during and after the late-night program.

She cares deeply about her peers and subordinates as well as the public she serves. Jamie works a long ten-hour day, often working right through her lunch break, then depending on the traffic and roads, drives at least an hour home each night. Everyone she encounters, supervises, and works with, immediately recognizes and respects her completely for her commitment to excellence. Jamie can always be relied upon to know the names of all the plants and animals in the park. Her heart is the size of Texas and her personality is as sweet as honey.

She will rescue every critter that crosses her path including spiders, whether they’re poisonous or not. Once, a patron reported a bird hooked with fishing line in a tree overhanging the river. Jamie rushed to its rescue. It was hooked in two places and dangling from a tree branch. One hook went through the tip of its wing and was wound tightly around it and the other was right through the middle of the wing. The fishing line was cut and while in transport it got away and flew to a nearby tree. Jamie was broken hearted and tried desperately to catch it again because the hooks were still in its wing. She had to be convinced to come away and ensured that it had a much better chance to live than it had before. Jamie vowed to keep an eye out for the little American Robin in hopes that she would have another chance to remove the hooks.

Jamie goes about her day so very quietly and humbly, constantly moving about her business all the whilst touching many hearts and lives and never knowing how truly amazing and special she is.

arizona state parks

Tony Clements

Oscar Scherer State Park, Florida

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Tony Clements has been the Park Manager for Oscar Scherer State Park since February 2012. He started as a park volunteer, working his way up through the ranks (volunteer, park ranger, and assistant park manager). He has put in place many programs for the park. One of the favorite programs is working with the "Adopt A Scrub Jay Program". The Florida Scrub Jay is a Federally Listed Species. Due in part to Tony's efforts, Oscar Scherer is currently home to 17 birds. He is an awesome puppeteer and loves to be our mascot “Scrubby the Scrub Jay" at the park's events. The puppeteer activity as part of park events has been in place more than five years.

Tony and his team have made strides in upgrading the park facilities for our visitors including: expansion of the Lester Finley fully ADA compliant trail; adding an accessible canoe/kayak launch; installing an educational aquarium in partnership with the Venice Aquarium Society and Littoral Society, to name a few. Under his leadership, Oscar Scherer State Park's event titled "Earth Day BioBlitz" won the Friends of Florida State Park's Event of the Year Award, Natural Resources Category for 2017.

Tony is on the Board of Directors for the Science and Environment Council of Southwest Florida (SEC). This organization helps to make people aware of the ways to keep our environment safe and clean. He also has established a partnership with University of Florida/IFAS - L.I.F.E. Programs which stand for Life in Florida Environment. This program is designed to engage youth in the STEM curriculums. Tony is always looking for ways to enhance the partnerships of the park and to enhance public awareness. He was on the board for the Osprey Nokomis Chamber of Commerce.

He also assisted the city of Sarasota Florida and the Friends of the Legacy Trail in their effort and success with establishing the 21.5-mile-long trail system and has remained engage with the project. He enjoys being hands on with all projects. He has a zest for life, a positive attitude and is a well-rounded leader in the world of parks, recreation and resource management.

arizona state parks

Terry Gray

Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park, Kentucky

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In his almost 20 years of law enforcement, Ranger Terry Gray has gone above what his job requires of him. At Blue Licks, he is always invested in the success of the park. For example, at our Battle Reenactment, the Parks main annual event, he recruits and coordinates dozens of volunteers to work with parking, safety & crowd control. He also manages the Parks seasonal Deer Hunt event. His organization of the details with this event were so good that they are now being used as the standard across the parks system.

He works with other area emergency service agencies to assist with any overlapping service needs on the Park or in the area. Ranger Gray is a key part of our customer service team at Blue Licks. When approached by guests he always presents himself in a professional manner and insures that the guest has everything they need during their stay on the park, whether it is a single day visit or long-term stay. Ranger Gray's services are requested many times from different parks from all over the region. He travels wherever needed, whenever needed and works for different events as directed or upon request. His services are always welcomed and greatly appreciated. He has a great work ethic, pays attention to detail and believes in arriving to work on time. Most of those that he has worked for at other events will tell you he arrives at least 30 minutes early, ready and prepared for duty; that is Ranger Gray.

From overseeing crowd control during busy times, such as Senior Tuesdays, on the Park; to managing crowd control and traffic for group events that I book; to managing the Rifle Frolic at Tanners Station; coordinating safety during our Halloween event; there are so many different things that Ranger Gray does as part of his job here at Blue Licks. He is a solid team member that we are grateful to have.

As Group Sales Coordinator, I depend on Ranger Grays services during many of my large events here at the Park and I have always found him to be flexible, available and dependable. Ranger Gray is the Ranger of the Year in the eyes of Blue Licks and I would like to see him recognized among his peers for not only the awesome job that he does in his field, but for everything he does as a team member here at our Park. Our team would not be complete without him!

Springfield-Greene County Park

Kevin Holle

Springfield-Greene County Park Board, Missouri

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On behalf of the Springfield-Greene County Park Board, I am pleased to nominate Park Ranger Kevin Holle for the 2018 ServiceWear Apparel Park Ranger of the Year Award. Kevin leads our Park Ranger Division staff of seven full-time rangers that are fully-commissioned law enforcement officers with over 150 years combined law enforcement experience. They are responsible for all aspects of park patron safety and protection of our natural resources in a nationally-accredited City-County park system that features 103 individual park sites and over 100 miles of multi-purpose recreational trails.

Under Kevin's direction over the past year, our park ranger staff have successfully implemented two new weapons platforms, completed all required P.O.S.T. training and provided security coverage at numerous State Championship sports tournaments, World Team Tennis matches and a wide variety of special events that includes the largest 5K run/walk in Missouri. They also provided park security during a recent visit from the President of the United States.

Our Park Ranger Division was honored to receive the 2018 Platinum Excellence Award from the Park Law Enforcement Association that recognized their commitment to park law enforcement sustainability, crime reduction, inter-agency collaboration, accountability to tax payers and implementation of innovative management strategies. Kevin Holle is a very dedicated and deserving Park Ranger that consistently represents the Springfield-Greene County Park Board in a positive fashion and exemplifies the professionalism worthy of your consideration for the Park Ranger of the Year award.

michigan state parks

Paul Kline

Ludington State Park, Michigan

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As the lead ranger for one of Michigan’s busiest state parks, Paul Kline takes on several roles. He is the park’s Safety Officer, leading regular staff safety trainings and ensuring staff are working safely. He is the park’s licensed Herbicide Applicator, working with park volunteers and service crews to treat invasive species in the park. As a very accomplished sawyer, he is responsible for conducting yearly hazardous tree surveys and removing problem trees.

He has used his woodworking skills to create custom maple cabinets for the park’s interpretive displays and aquariums and to build beautiful maple chairs for the park’s historic, CCC built beach house, using original CCC plans. Many of his projects will live on long after he leaves park service. This is in addition to conducting routine maintenance, customer service and law enforcement duties.

However, it is Paul’s contributions to the Michigan State Park system, above and beyond his park-specific responsibilities, that cause him to really stand out. Throughout the Cadillac District of Michigan State Parks, of which twelve other facilities are included, he trains park rangers in proper and safe chainsaw and aerial lift use, as well as in safe tree felling.

Annually, at the Michigan State Park Ranger and Law Academy, he volunteers to lead new rangers through the CPR and First Aid training and assists with emergency response scenarios. Paul is always quick to volunteer to assist at other facilities that need a hand. This past season, he assisted with downed tree removal at Charles Mears State Park in Pentwater, MI, after the park was hit with 80 mph winds that toppled trees throughout their park, just prior to Labor Day. Previously, he volunteered to be stationed at Belle Isle in Detroit, Michigan, for multiple weeks, to assist with tree removal and clean-up.

Paul is also the district’s Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI). As CPSI, Paul has audited the district’s existing playgrounds, providing recommendations for improvements and repairs to ensure they are safe for users. He was integral in making sure that Ludington State Park’s new playground met industry safety standards and led this community build project. He is currently providing guidance to staff at Leelanau State Park as they navigate their community build playground project.

It isn’t just the work that Paul accomplishes that makes him stand out, it is also his willingness to help with the positive development of his co-workers. He is always willing to provide guidance and support when needed. He makes sure that his co-workers know that they are valued. For the seven years he has worked here, he has cooked lunch for staff on the Fourth of July, every year, whether he’s working or not. It is this dedication, in addition to his contributions to Ludington State Park and the entire Michigan State Park system that make him well deserving of the ServiceWear Apparel Park Ranger of the Year Award.

city of ocala parks

Brian MacKay

City of Ocala Florida Recreation and Parks, Florida

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Brian MacKay should be elected as Ranger of the Year because of his dedication, compassion, enthusiasm and genuine love of being a park ranger. Brian is the person that you will see at every event being held in our parks, working hard and ensuring the event runs as smoothly as possible. Brian oversees a projects crew that is responsible for major projects within the Parks. Brian also oversees six rangers. Brian has been influential in establishing different park programs, monitoring park activity and also has the responsibility of having a K-9 partner to help ensure our parks are drug free. Brian’s tireless dedication to the parks is not because it is his career, but it is truly his passion.

He is a collector of pretty much anything that has to do with a park setting, you should see his office. He is in a career that he loves, and it is evident everyday by not only staff but the visitors of our parks. Brian is a supervisor that displays compassion for his fellow park rangers, vendors of the parks and the community who uses the parks on a year-round basis. Brian is the leader who leads from the front and will get dirty with the rest of his staff.

He also takes personal time to instruct at the Annual National Park Ranger Institute to help ensure that his fellow rangers around the United States are equipped with the best possible training to effectively complete their duties and assignments. Brian is not only an instructor in his profession but most importantly he is still a student. Brian attacks every day with the notion that something new can be learned which will effectively make him, his peers, his staff and our parks better. I believe Brain MacKay is a great choice for Park Ranger of the Year.

alabama man!

Stephen David McCadden

Lake Guntersville State Park, Alabama

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I would like to nominate Stephen David McCadden for Ranger of the Year; based on many different attributes he has displayed while employed at Lake Guntersville State Park. Other than maintaining his ranger duties in the confines of our park, he also jumps to assist any local law enforcement without hesitation; McCadden is also a member of the Army National Guard. You can often find Mr. McCadden spending his off days following up on reports, attending court, and assuring volunteer efforts are appreciated in the park.

He has been with the park for a little over two years and continues successful efforts towards generating profitable margins by managing two campgrounds; Lake Guntersville State Park Campground and Town Creek Campground. McCadden is also tasked with the parks inventory control with the state, overseeing the coordination of the VIP volunteer program, and vital law enforcement activities.

In 2017, McCadden was awarded the Life Saver Award by assisting a guest while having a heart attack; Stephens’s swift actions assured the life of this man was saved. Finally, McCadden continues to exemplify the core training of officers everywhere by continuing his education through certifications, qualification’s, and involvement with programs internally as well as externally. He is certified as Field Training Officer with the State Parks and a member of the Alabama Department of Conservations Honor Guard Team.

michigan state park

Ashley Ondersma

Muskegon State Park, Michigan

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Ashley Ondersma is an excellent park ranger with an excellent understanding of her role. She has been with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in one capacity or another for 13 years. Ashley has excellent customer service skills and always puts the customer first, while balancing the needs of the park and the resource. She strives to keep the park clean and when not completing projects or patrolling, she is often spending time cleaning the restrooms. Ashley also serves as the park safety officer, ensuring the park is safe and orderly for all guests and staff by making recommendations and correcting issues.

She has demonstrated the ability to think clearly on the fly and handle anything that is thrown at her. In her time as a Ranger, she has responded to many emergency situations, including major and minor medicals, and search and rescue operations. She has excelled in these areas. Ashley is always willing to learn new skills weather it is “hard skills” like construction and vehicle maintenance or “soft skills” including how to better de-escalate situations.

She is the first to volunteer to lead educational programs and organizes staff events and trainings. This year, she took an intern who has an interest in working in parks “under her wing” and has been able to work with her consistently teaching her skills and guiding her in what is required to be a good Ranger. Ashley leads by example and is an asset to Muskegon State Park and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

arizona state parks

Carlos Rosario

City of Cape Coral Parks and Recreation Department, Florida

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Carlos Rosario exemplifies the qualities of the Park Ranger of the Year Award. According to his peers who nominated him, “Carlos is the ranger who other rangers look at and ask, ‘how is he so good at all that stuff’”.

Carlos has helped coordinate and lead some of the most challenging and time-critical projects undertaken by the Parks and Recreation Department. He is very dedicated and hardworking and has always stood ahead in all his work. He has been a very enthusiastic employee and always likes to excel in whatever he does. His peers call him a “consummate professional in that he endeavors to be the best at whatever he does.” You will find him directing traffic, patrolling the parks, giving directions to a lost visitor, or mentoring a new ranger.

From the day he joined our department, he excelled in his performance and is an employee who is well known not only in his department, but the entire City of Cape Coral. Carlos has always been a person who participates in all the cultural activities. He often works on projects outside of his job description. He is one of the most liked employees and ready to take on any challenge while giving the best in all his work.

Carlos is the go-to person when the other employees need training, or a coworker has a question. Not just departmental employees rely on him for advice and assistance, but also when other departments need answers, Carlos is the first person they turn to as well. This says a lot about how his skills and contribution and sets an example for his fellow ranger coworkers. The city has received many compliments and words of praise for Carlos from our citizens and we are delighted to have such a valuable employee like him with us. With his determination and urge to always go an extra mile to accomplish tasks faster, he has successfully brought a lot of fame to our Park Ranger Program.

He has proved to be a motivating team leader as well, and we appreciate his diligence and enthusiasm. Carlos is an outstanding ranger and very deserving of this recognition.

arizona state parks

Brandon Samson

City of Menifee Community Services Department, California

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Brandon Samson has been a park ranger with the City of Menifee for just over one year now. He is the city’s first ever park ranger and has certainly blazed a trail for future rangers. Brandon is dedicated to providing a positive experience at twelve parks, totaling 22 shelters and eight ballfields. In addition to his work in the field related to parks, Brandon his also the leader of the city’s Homeless Outreach Team.

Brandon has worked closely with nonprofits and local law enforcement to significantly reduce the number of homeless in the community. Additionally, Brandon has created several adopt-a-park opportunities, played a lead role in the Community Clean-up day (Menifee Better Together) and provided the community with several interpretive classes and programs. Finally, Brandon recently earned a Certified Code Enforcement certificate and now assists the Code Enforcement department in Menifee as well. You will not find a finer Park Ranger than our Ranger Samson.

poinsett state park

Greg Wrightsman

City of Arvada, Colorado

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It is with great respect and admiration that I submit Greg Wrightsman for ServiceWear Apparel's Park Ranger of the Year. Earlier this year, I was asked to develop a pilot park ranger program for the City of Arvada, CO with hundreds of items to be handled before launching the program in September, none was more important than creating its vision and finding qualified volunteers to bring it to life.

With only two months remaining in the program's initial seasonal run, Greg showed an amazing commitment to the program by working his territory for most of those 60 days. He worked sometimes twelve-hour days, always with a great attitude and infectious smile. He made it a point to greet and welcome with much enthusiasm, every guest he ran into and was always available to answer questions about the many resources and abundant wildlife found in our city.

Greg lead the program's vision by addressing guests needs, making educational contacts and by encouraging everyone to enjoy the city's many resources. Utilizing his knowledge and awareness, his ability to identify potential safety hazards, and bringing them to our attention, Greg has helped our Parks Department make the necessary changes and repairs, making our parks and trails safer for everyone. The feedback from our guests has been extremely positive. This is due mainly to the tremendous efforts made by Greg and the other volunteer rangers and, as a result, our guests are continually expressing their admiration for all that has been accomplished. In addition, the Arvada Police Department and Animal Management are aware of their presence and appreciative of their continued presence on the trail and in the parks.

Greg has definitely been the superstar of our program. He has become an important resource to his fellow rangers and has become a friend to hundreds of park guests who have grown accustomed to his presence and rely on him for their peace of mind while enjoying our city's natural beauty. Greg's ability to deliver on the program's vision and in fact, to exceed expectations, has also had a great impact on Greg himself. He has found passion and a renewed purpose in his own life. He loves being a ranger and is an inspiration to others in the field.

Greg is a modest, unassuming, respectful individual who would be the first to say that he could not do it without the help and support and hard work of all the other rangers on the team.