The Galveston District hosted an annual refresher training and appreciation event for Southwestern Division’s district Park Rangers July 13-15, 2021.
Policy requires all USACE Rangers to receive eight hours of training annually on a variety of topics such as self-defense, de-escalation techniques, tactical communications, policy, and cultural demographics.
The week’s events kicked off with an award ceremony for Fort Worth District’s Rangers with the crowning of each region’s “Ranger of the Year.” USACE Fort Worth District Commander Col. Jonathan Stover was on hand to announce the winners and the recipient of the district’s “Ranger of the Year.”
- Jewel Hale, named Capital Region’s “Ranger of the Year.”
- Jerod Briscoe, earning the Three Rivers Region’s “Ranger of the Year” award.
- Lyndy Black, earning accolades as the Trinity Region’s “Ranger of the Year.”
- Bryan Heffernan, named the Piney Woods Region’s “Ranger of the Year.”
Heffernan also earned USACE Fort Worth District’s “Ranger of the Year” award.
After the awards ceremony, Fort Worth District’s Park Ranger Refresher Project Delivery Team led the 60-plus Rangers in attendance through three days of vital training planned down to the last minute.
“The goal is to create a hands-on Ranger training workshop,” said Adam Tarplee, who chairs the Park Ranger Refresher Project Delivery Team at the Fort Worth District. As one of the instructors, Tarplee and his team designed the training to be as interactive as possible. “It’s definitely better than training by PowerPoint,” he said.
The refresher training also includes simulations of potentially dangerous, real-world scenarios Park Rangers have and might encounter. They include dealing with unauthorized hunting, unauthorized possession of firearms, and encountering illegal drugs and narcotics on federal recreational grounds.
Moreover, the annual training provides Rangers an opportunity to have fun while learning in a controlled environment, said Cassy Hill, a Fort Worth District Ranger working out of Belton Lake. “It’s a safe space to train for not-so-safe situations,” she said.
Holding joint training also allows both Fort Worth and Galveston Rangers to meet their required training while building relationships across the districts, said Steve Perrin, a Lead Ranger at Fort Worth’s Lavon Lake site.
The event presents an opportunity for Rangers from other areas to compare their notes and share best practices, said Patty Spiller, a Ranger with Fort Worth’s Three Rivers Region. “It’s a great opportunity to network with fellow Rangers,” she said. “There’s a lot of knowledge out there [among the community] that’s helped me out a lot over the years.”
Part of the training involved educational briefings in outdoor settings ranging a variety of topics, including wildlife management, navigation, water safety, wildlife habitat appraisal procedures, and maintenance.
A lot of new Rangers also got the chance to see just what their job entails.
“This opens their eyes to the reality of what we face,” said David McCann, a Park Ranger at Fort Worth’s Capital Region. “It’s good for them to experience this in a controlled environment.”
The rangers also had some fun and a chance to socialize in a more relaxed setting when they participated in a softball game and a fishing tournament.
The week of training culminated with a “Ranger Challenge.” Rangers were split up into groups—according to their region—and tested on their physical capabilities and skills unique to their job.
The annual training and appreciation originated in the Fort Worth District as a way for the district commander to recognize the important work the Rangers do and establish a “Park Ranger of the Year” award. Over the years, these events were combined with training to make it an all-inclusive event for USACE Rangers across districts.
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