The Faces of Arkansas State Parks
The State Parks of Arkansas are the destination for millions of visitors, campers, hikers, cyclists, paddlers, and guests in our lodges and cabins. We look forward to each one coming to our exceptional parks to enjoy all that is offered and to connect with the wonderful natural, historical, and cultural resources of Arkansas. Hundreds of programs, events, and activities are scheduled across the park system to make your visit memorable while expanding your knowledge of what makes Arkansas so special.
Who cares for your parks and ensures that your experience is one that will be a lifetime memory? We have these wonderful parks all over the state and there are hundreds of dedicated and passionate park professionals who help you connect to the parks. I’d like to share with you the many faces of Arkansas State Parks.
Typically, you may think about the park ranger, who is dressed in the brown state parks uniform with the broad-rimmed campaign hat. Our park superintendents, assistant superintendents, and park interpreters all wear this uniform as well.
The park superintendent is the one who balances all the many activities of the park including guest services, maintenance of facilities and grounds, and the administration and development of the park. The superintendent and assistant superintendent play a vital role in the symbiotic relationship between the park, its resources, park guests and the surrounding communities.
Our park interpreters are the ones who help introduce you to and interpret the park resources. They lead trail hikes, teach pioneer skills, American Indian history and culture, take you on kayak tours, guide flora and fauna discovery expeditions, coordinate activities, and visit your schools and present educational programs. And that’s just a few of the many ways they connect you to our parks.
Our park rangers are law enforcement officers. Some park rangers are also the superintendent or assistant superintendent. They are there to protect the park resources, protect our guests from the possible dangers of the resource and to be on site for our guests should an issue arise. Our primary goal is to always educate our guests so they have an understanding of why the ranger is addressing an issue or asking the guest to do or not to do something. We want our guests to enjoy themselves and also feel secure knowing our rangers are there.
Beyond the traditional brown uniforms, you will also see many more faces throughout our parks who are vital to our mission. The front desk staff and guest services welcome you as you come into the park to our gift shops, or to register for an event or campsite. There are maintenance teams who maintain the grounds, facilities, and equipment. These teams also operate the water plants and sewer treatment facilities that are critical to your enjoyment of a park. In our lodge and cabin parks, housekeepers maintain your rooms and cabins to a very high standard, making sure that your stay with us is enjoyable.
Come inside our restaurants and see the line cooks, servers, dishwashers, and managers who make your culinary experience one to write home about and make you want to come back again and again. We also have golf courses and marinas where the golf pro, grounds crews, and dock hands are all ready to serve you. Some parks also have concessionaire operations, like Loco Ropes Treetop Adventure at the Ozark Folk Center, which provide a unique experience.
Supporting our parks is the administration team who makes sure our parks are running efficiently. This includes engineers, planners, administrative assistants, architects, analysts, accountants, graphic artists, marketing and social media team, division managers and me – your state parks director.
As you enjoy our Arkansas State Parks, take a moment to think of the many faces of the dedicated people across the park system that bring these wonderful experiences to more than eight million visitors each year. They are the personality of our parks and we always look forward to serving and hosting you during your next park visit.
Grady Spann is the director of Arkansas State Parks. He enjoys spending time in parks with his family, riding his mountain bike and motorcycle around Arkansas. He has worked for Arkansas State Parks for 24 years serving in various positions from a marina dock hand, park superintendent to regional supervisor. His passion are parks and serving the public.