Imagine what our state and national parks would be like without those who protect them? Throughout July, Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites are recognizing these men and women in celebration of World Ranger Day on July 31. This annual holiday commemorates the founding of The International Ranger Federation, honors those who have been injured or killed while protecting parks across the globe, and celebrates their work in conserving natural and cultural resources.
During July, several stories will be shared on the park system’s social media channels, highlighting how rangers protect the delicate balance among natural ecosystems, outdoor recreation, historic preservation and education. One example comes from Crooked River State Park in St. Marys. Assistant Manager Patrick Turknett quickly responded to an out-of-control boat, rescuing the driver and avoiding serious damage to the vessel. Ranger Robbie Graper of Vogel State Park in Blairsville was recently honored for his construction and heavy-equipment skills. Graper has built campgrounds, trails and bridges, and has led clean-up teams after hurricanes Irma and Michael. Another example is from metro-Atlanta’s Sweetwater Creek State Park. Ranger Sarah Kelehear has made it her mission to educate visitors about backyard wildlife and how they can protect native species.
On Saturday, July 31, park guests can join in on a wide range of programs across Georgia. Guided hikes, trail cleanups, paddling excursions and other events will foster the next generation of park rangers through the Junior Ranger program. For example, Hard Labor Creek State Park in Rutledge will host a campfire with s’mores and stargazing. Laura S. Walker State Park in Waycross will teach basic wilderness survival techniques. New Echota Cherokee Capital in Calhoun will help kids earn Junior Ranger badges while making pinecone bird feeders.
To learn more about these public events and the month-long celebration, visit GaStateParks.org. Guests are encouraged to share photos while visiting parks and attending events by tagging #GaStateParks and #WorldRangerDay. This year marks the 90th anniversary of the Georgia State Park system, part of the Department of Natural Resources.