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State park ranger's dream came true

March 03, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

SMITHSBURG - Not everyone gets to realize a lifelong dream, but Jacob Doyle is not one of those.

One of the 16 members of the newest graduating class of the Maryland Park Service Ranger School, Doyle said the Feb. 20 ceremony marked the first class of new ranger graduates since 1996.

"My dad was into camping when he was young," Doyle said. "Then he took us to Maryland state parks when we were young."

Born and raised in Smithsburg, Doyle, 27, is a 1999 graduate of Smithsburg High School.

"I went to Hagerstown Community College for two years to get my general studies out of the way," Doyle said. Then he attended Frostburg University for three years, studying wildlife biology. He graduated in May 2004.

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While in college, Doyle was a seasonal naturalist at Cunningham Falls State Park until October 2005, when he became full time. "I worked with the Scales and Tales program," he said.

At that time, Doyle and his colleagues were called Park Service associates. "Then two years ago, the ranger certification became available - a completely voluntary program," he said.

Certain training was needed, both classroom and practical. Students had to complete a curriculum to qualify. Though Doyle's class was the first in 13 years, there will be several classes a year from now on.

Doyle is supervisor of the beach lifeguards and seasonal employees at Cunningham Falls. "We have a good core group of lifeguards, but may need some more," he said.

At the Feb. 20 graduation in Crisfield, Md., Doyle's parents were in the audience along with his wife, Ashley.

Maryland Park Service Superintendent Nita Settina attended the ceremony, along with Deputy Superintendent Chris Bushman and other Maryland State Park and DNR officials. Ranger Steve McCoy, assistant dean for the school, was the emcee for the morning.

The four-week academy was held at Janes Island State Park in Crisfield. Park employees from across the state, both veteran and relatively new, completed training in various aspects of park operations to develop and enhance the skills needed to be responsive to the resources and visitors to Maryland's 65 state parks.

Students experienced real-life scenarios and instruction involving resource management, search and rescue, campground operations, park maintenance, resource interpretation and diversity in education.

A Maryland ranger devotes professional responsibility for stewardship and protection of Maryland's natural and historic resources. In carrying out that duty, a ranger incorporates education, enforcement, management and conservation when serving park visitors.

Also in the graduating class was Steve Robertson of Big Pool.

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