WASHINGTON — Need help? Then you need Leslie Reynolds. Whether the problem is big or small, this quintessential park ranger can handle the call, just as she has done for more than 20 years. Today, Reynolds was named the recipient of the National Park Service’s most prestigious ranger award – the Harry Yount Award for Excellence in the Art of Rangering.
“On a cold February day in the early 90’s, a recent college graduate on a road trip stood on the rim of the Grand Canyon, mesmerized by the view, and decided, right then and there, that she wanted to be a park ranger,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “Today, Leslie is one of the most talented and respected rangers in the country. Her decision that day changed not just the direction of her life, but the lives of countless people who have benefitted from her skill, courage, and determination.”
Reynolds is currently the chief ranger at Cape Cod National Seashore. She started her career as a seasonal law enforcement officer at Yosemite National Park in 1995 and rose through the ranks to eventually supervise Yosemite Valley, the busiest district in the park. She has also worked at Grand Canyon and Shenandoah national parks.
Reynolds has had a distinguished career as a ranger, law enforcement officer, park medic, investigator, incident commander and leader/mentor to countless park rangers. She was a member of a special response team which handled high risk law enforcement situations and incidents. She has dangled 200’ from a helicopter to rescue an injured climber, patrolled on horseback, led multi-day searches for lost visitors, and treated major trauma injuries resulting from motor vehicle accidents and falls. She is a leader in formulating preventative search and rescue programs to address risk and stop accidents before they happen. Currently she is a part of a white shark working group that brings the community of Cape Cod together and uses the best science to better understand shark behavior and educate the public to be shark smart.
“I consider myself very fortunate to have chosen a career that is rewarding, that I am proud of, and one that continues to challenge me every day,” said Reynolds. “My inspiration comes mostly from the rangers of the National Park Service with whom I have had the great honor of working with for the past twenty years. One of the most rewarding aspects of my profession is developing and mentoring others and watching them succeed, grow, and contribute to the ranger profession.”
Reynolds will receive the Yount Award on August 9 during a ceremony in Washington, DC, hosted by the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks. The award is named after the first known park ranger, hired to patrol Yellowstone National Park in 1880. The annual peer-nominated award recognizes a ranger who reflects high standards and a commitment to the National Park Service mission. He or she serves as a role model, demonstrating unfailing leadership and the ability to do tough jobs well.
“It’s dedicated and effective National Park Service employees like Leslie who are helping to make the national parks the best place for our fellow Americans to visit and enjoy every day,” said National Park Foundation President Will Shafroth. “She is truly helping the parks achieve that margin of excellence on a daily basis and we are honored to have the opportunity to recognize her valiant efforts.”
For 100 years now, National Park Service rangers, such as Reynolds, have protected visitors, nature, and cultural treasures in parks. Since the National Park Service was established in 1916, many things have changed but one thing remains the same – the mindset of the ranger. Regardless of time and place, rangers have always done whatever it takes to help people. Their bravery and resourcefulness are legendary.
Stephen Mather, the first director of the National Park Service, summarized the ranger creed when he said the following. “They are a fine, earnest, intelligent, and public-spirited body…Many and long are the duties heaped upon their shoulders. If a trail is to be blazed, it is ‘send a ranger.’ If an animal is floundering in the snow, a ranger is sent to pull him out; if a bear is in the hotel, if a fire threatens a forest, if someone is to be saved, it is ‘send a ranger.’ If a Dude wants to know the why, if a Sagebrusher is puzzled about a road, it is ‘ask the ranger.’”
SOURCE: National Park Foundation press release