• Spring-time view of the seashore, with shorebirds returning to the surf.

    Cape Hatteras

    National Seashore North Carolina

Park Ranger Kenny Ballance Receives Regional Yount Award

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Date: November 8, 2011
Contact: Outer Banks Group, 252-473-2111

Superintendent Mike Murray announced today that long-time Outer Banks Group employee Kenneth C. (Kenny) Ballance has received the 2011 National Park Service (NPS) Southeast Region Harry Yount Park Ranger Award.The peer-nominated honor, named after the first national park ranger, recognizes excellence in the field of "rangering." Kenny was recently presented with the award at a gathering of NPS staff and members of the Ballance family.

Each year the NPS recognizes just one park ranger per region (there are seven regions) whose overall career impact, record of accomplishments, and excellence in traditional ranger duties have created an appreciation of the park ranger profession on the part of the public and other members of the profession. The Harry Yount Award honors those rangers who, in the eyes of their peers, have consistently gone out every day and performed the traditional, generalist ranger duties of protecting park resources and serving park visitors.

As a native of Ocracoke, Kenny attended grades K-12 at Ocracoke School. After high school, he attended Pitt Community College, then East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, where he graduated with a degree in psychology. He started working for the Park Service at Cape Hatteras National Seashore in 1977.Since 1978 Kenny has worked as a law enforcement ranger in a variety of assignments, including serving as the Ocracoke District Ranger since 2003.His leadership and longstanding involvement in his community is highly regarded.In 1996 Kenny was recognized as Outstanding Volunteer of the Year by North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt.

As a law enforcement and emergency services ranger for 34 years, Kenny has been involved in numerous law enforcement cases, rescues, and medical calls.He has also been involved in many hurricane evacuation decisions on Ocracoke Island, where he has reliably provided effective coordination between the NPS and Hyde County emergency management officials and over the years has personally provided frequent assistance and support to community members. As an Emergency Medical Technician for 20 years, a first aid instructor for 12 years, and currently as a First Responder, Kenny has worked numerous emergency incidents, including motor vehicle accidents, medical emergencies, water rescues, and drownings.

Of his many accomplishments, a true labor of love spanning three decades has been Kenny's dedication to the care and preservation of the Ocracoke pony herd. These wild ponies are believed to be descendants of the Spanish mustangs that swam ashore from shipwrecks off the Outer Banks of North Carolina.For the past 35 years, Kenny has ensured the ponies are well cared for and appreciated by park visitors. He has increased public awareness and support of the pony herd and ensured that there is an effective reproduction program, which is necessary to maintain a viable, healthy herd.

"Kenny Ballance is truly an outstanding park ranger, who has dedicated his career to serving park visitors and his island community of Ocracoke. I can think of no one more deserving of this award than Kenny," said Superintendent Mike Murray. "The park staff and I are very proud of him and feel fortunate to have him as a friend and co-worker."

Did You Know?

Sea Whip, though it looks like a plant, is actually whole colony of animals.

A piece of sea whip that washes up on the beach at Cape Hatteras National Seashore is not a plant, but the skeleton of a whole colony of animals. A tiny animal lived in each hole on the yellow, orange or purple stems. It had a mouth, a stomach and eight tentacles to catch food.