Last updated: January 23, 2017
New Year, New People, Same Mission
Most park lovers know 2016 was a very significant year for the National Park Service (NPS). We observed our 100th birthday with special programs and great fanfare. It was a wonderful celebration, but now is the time to turn from examining our past to embracing the future.
2017 marks a new chapter of the NPS story. Many faithful rangers, technicians, and administrators retired as the year began. While we mourn loss of their knowledge and dedication, we’re pleased to welcome new individuals to expand our skills and adopt fresh perspectives.
Only two National Park Service employees are politically appointed, and these positions are filled by new individuals by each presidential administration (sometimes more than once). One of those appointees is the agency director. Jon Jarvis has been NPS Director for the last seven years. A number of people enjoyed his leadership because he started his career as a summer seasonal ranger. Success stories like Director Jarvis’ ignited hope in the hearts of the seasonal backbone of the Park Service. The second appointee is the Deputy Director for Congressional and External Relations. Deputy Director Denise Ryan has shared her love of parks working with Congress, talking with rangers, and listening to you—our visitors. Their decades of experience and public service will be sorely missed.
What does that big shift at the top mean for those of us out in the field—the fee collectors selling passes, the biologists monitoring fish populations, the rangers swearing in Junior Rangers? We don’t know. The captain guiding our ship will have new ideas, new ways of implementing them, and new staff with which to do it. Only time will tell how we move forward.
With all the changes the New Year brings, it’s easy to overlook what will stay the same. Park rangers will always be happy to help you enjoy your parks. Scenic wonderlands and historic sites will continue to beckon those who dare to push their boundaries. Our mission will also continue to stand: to preserve and protect the places and stories that make us who we are.