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    Carlsbad Caverns

    National Park New Mexico

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Superintendent Retires

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Date: October 23, 2013

Carlsbad Caverns National Park Superintendent Retires

 CARLSBAD, New Mexico – After more than four decades with the National Park Service (NPS), John Benjamin has decided to hang up his “flat hat” for the last time. Benjamin, superintendent of Carlsbad Caverns National Park, thoroughly enjoyed his time here. “Working closely with the Carlsbad community was very rewarding and extremely vital to the support of the park. I will certainly miss the camaraderie I felt here,” he said.

“I never thought much about a career in the NPS growing up,” Benjamin said recently, reflecting on his 45 years in the Park Service. It wasn’t until young adulthood when he visited the caverns with several Air Force buddies, that the idea of a career working in the national parks was sparked. 

After earning his bachelor’s degree in resource management and a master’s degree in forestry from New York State College of Forestry at Syracuse University, Benjamin began his NPS career at Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado and Utah in 1968 as a park naturalist. After three years there, he transferred to Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada to work in parks law enforcement. After six years on horse and boat patrol (he also became a certified scuba diver), Benjamin transferred with his family in 1977 to Glacier National Park in Montana, where he served as the assistant wilderness specialist, a post he called “the best park ranger job in the entire service.”

In 1981, Benjamin became a district park ranger at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in southern Utah and northern Arizona. Eight years later, he transferred to Grand Canyon National Park as a district ranger.

In 1991, desiring a change of pace from his string of high-desert postings, Benjamin and his family moved to the East Coast, where he became deputy superintendent at Boston National Historical Park and Boston African American National Historic Site. “Boston was a spectacular place and we enjoyed being part of the tremendous history that was embodied there,” he said.  

The Benjamin’s returned to the Southwest in 1996 when he served a five-year stint as superintendent of Lake Meredith National Recreation Area and Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument, companion parks in the Texas Panhandle.  

Before coming to Carlsbad Caverns in 2004, Benjamin served as deputy superintendent at Everglades National Park and Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida.  

“I’ve enjoyed just about everything in every job I had,” Benjamin said. “The best things were to see folks I had faith in and helped in their early years who blossomed into true leaders and have done great things for the Park Service and the American people. It was like raising kids and watching them succeed, there are few things better in life.” 

In retirement, he and his wife, Deborah, plan to eventually to move to Arizona to be closer to their son, John.  

Looking back on his 45-year career, Benjamin said, “I’d like to be remembered as a person who tried, who failed many times and made numerous mistakes, but who kept on trying." 

 

Did You Know?

Jim White in Carlsbad Cavern.

Jim White is the cowboy credited with being the premier explorer of Carlsbad Cavern. He began to explore the cave as a teenager in 1898, using a handmade wire ladder to descend 60 feet into the cave. For more than a decade, he couldn't convince many locals that there was much to Carlsbad Cavern.