Each year, the National Park Service asks Rangers to single out one ranger who epitomizes the Ranger ethic. Believe me, there are so many rangers who could be held up as an example of excellence on the job. So when one ranger is selected to receive the Harry Yount Award for Excellence, you know this is someone special.
My guest today, Tom Betts, is the most recent recent recipient Harry Yount Award. Tom Betts is the Chief Ranger at Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico. If I were to exaggerate everything you think of a Park Ranger, I would almost be able to describe Tom.
Tom has protected park visitors and resources during volcano eruptions, wild land fires, earthquakes, floods, snowstorms, wildlife encounters, and search and rescue missions. He has conducted patrols via foot, truck, boat, helicopter, raft, ATV, skis, snowmobile, horseback, and airplane.
Stephen Mather, the first director of the National Park Service, said this about park rangers,
“They are a fine, earnest, intelligent, and public-spirited body of men, these rangers. Though small in number, their influence is large. 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.’ Everything the ranger knows, he will tell you, except about himself.”
I am convinced he was talking about Tom Betts. Now, I know Tom would not want me saying this about him. When I first asked him to be on the Park Leaders Show, he told me he has spent the last 32 years trying to stay out of the spotlight. He was gracious enough to be a guest on the Park Leaders Show and now his secret is out.
Tom talks about his career with the National Park Service, the story of meeting his wife at the Grand Canyon, and offers advice to up and coming leaders in the park system.