2007 Harry Yount National Park Ranger Award Recipient Named
Chief Ranger Gordon Wissinger Honored as Top Ranger for 2006
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Gordon Wissinger, Chief Ranger at Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, is this year’s recipient of the Harry Yount National Park Ranger Award for excellence in “rangering.” The national award will be presented this evening by National Park Service (NPS) Director Mary A. Bomar at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., hosted by the National Park Foundation (NPF).
Named after Harry Yount, who is generally given credit for being the first Park Ranger, the Harry Yount National Park Ranger Award is the hallmark of recognition as a NPS Ranger. The prestigious award is presented annually by the NPS and made possible by the National Park Foundation through a generous gift from Unilever. The peer-nominated award not only seeks to recognize and honor outstanding rangers, but to encourage high standards of performance; foster an especially responsive attitude toward public service; enhance the public’s appreciation of the Park Ranger profession; and further the art and science of “rangering.”
"It is my privilege to be able to present the Harry Yount National Park Ranger Award to Gordon Wissinger," said Director Bomar. "Gordon’s dedication to the profession of rangering and to the NPS is evident in his accomplishments and with this award given by his peers – many of which have told me that Gordon’s actions, standards and leadership personify the art of being a ranger. Gordon is a credit to the National Park Service and we are very proud of him and each of the others who were nominated for this award."
Gordon Wissinger’s consistent dedication to the mission of the National Park Service and his ability to perform his duties at the level of the great rangers makes him a model for all rangers to aspire to. He has regularly demonstrated that a ranger who is well skilled in protection, interpretation, resource management and visitor use management is the most effective tool that the Service has for managing the parks.
According to Gary Somers, former Chief of Natural and Cultural Resources at Shenandoah NP, “Gordon is what a Chief Ranger should be. He knows what it means to be a professional ranger; knows how to effectively represent those interests and concerns as a member of the management team; and can organize a ranger division into an effective and efficient team that meets the needs of the park.”
Originally from Front Royal, Virginia, Gordon started his NPS career at Shenandoah NP as a seasonal park technician in 1973. He came back home to where it all began when in 2004 he took the position of Chief Ranger at Shenandoah. In between assignments at Shenandoah NP, Gordon has worked at Colonial NHP, Cuyahoga Valley NP, Shiloh NMP, Great Smoky Mountains NP, Capitol Reef NM, and two parkways – Natchez Trace and the Blue Ridge.
For more than 10 years, he has also been Incident Commander of the NPS Eastern Incident Management Team. The incidents he has helped manage have ranged from long-term event planning, such as the centennial of the Wright Brothers first flight, to recovery work necessitated by cataclysmic storms. In 2005, Gordon led the National Park Service through four separate hurricane recoveries including two assignments for Katrina relief efforts in the Gulf region.
He is also well-known as both an effective member of the management team and an advocate for the working professionals. Gordon has proven himself to be a man who takes pride in his leadership abilities even as he remains attuned to the personal and professional needs of those who have been asked to follow his lead. Rangers and managers alike have a true respect for him personally and for his abilities as a ranger.
The National Park Foundation, chartered by Congress in 1967, strengthens the enduring connection between the American people and their national parks by raising private funds, making strategic grants, creating innovative partnerships and increasing public awareness. In the past seven years, NPF has contributed more than $134 million in grants and program support to national parks across the country.
The National Park Service preserves the natural and cultural resources and values of 391 units of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. These national treasures cover more than 84 million acres in every state (except Delaware), the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. The NPS also manages a variety of programs in cooperation with multiple partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.
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