Kansas City District announces 2022 Ranger of the Year Award > Kansas City District > Kansas City District News Stories

Ask a US Army Corps of Engineers park ranger what he likes best about his job and you’ll likely get an answer that he’s outdoors in nature and has the freedom not to be stuck behind a desk every day.

One of the most unique positions within the USACE Kansas City District, Park Rangers, or Natural Resource Specialists as they are officially known, are responsible for developing wildlife conservation activities, managing environmental programs and supporting public safety recovery, from which much is done in the great outdoors.

However, once a year, the Kansas City District’s park rangers gather for a few days at a natural resource management workshop to discuss programs, attend required annual training, and resolve issues during an open forum. More than anything else, this annual workshop offers park rangers the opportunity to come together in one place to reconnect with their teammates and engage in technical discussions. This year’s workshop took place January 23-26 in Bolivar, Missouri.

This year’s Natural Resource Management Workshop also provided the perfect setting to announce the winner of the 2022 Ranger of the Year Award. The Ranger of the Year Award is a peer award and is presented to the park ranger who goes above and beyond the normal expected performance of a Kansas City Borough park ranger.

As the name suggests, award winners are nominated and selected every two years by their peers in the Kansas City District’s Natural Resource Section. Originally, the Ranger of the Year Award was presented in three separate categories, but was changed to one category in 2014.

Park rangers receive three anonymous justifications for the award and then cast their vote on who they think should win the award. District-level winners are then nominated as part of the USACE-wide Natural Resource Management Program award.

“Everyone sends in their nominations… and she does [the park rangers] They can vote on which entry they think deserves the award the most,” said Kylie Ward, natural resource management specialist and organizer of the 2022 Peer Ranger Recognition Award for the District of Kansas City.

Presenting the award at the annual Natural Resource Management Workshop gives the Kansas City District park rangers who work on various lake projects in Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Iowa an opportunity to officially recognize the hard work and dedication of one of their teammates who is together on one Location.

The 2022 Ranger of the Year Award winner was Larry Smith, Natural Resources Team Leader at Harry S. Truman Lake. Smith began his USACE career over 32 years ago and will retire later this year. Smith has worked at Harry S. Truman Lake since 1996.

As stated in his nomination statement, Smith “stands by what he believes is right for himself, his employees, this agency and the public. At Truman, we really feel that Larry’s vast knowledge, hard work and dedication is what binds us together.”

Smith was nominated by the Harry S. Truman Lake Park Rangers and is known for working tirelessly and often increasing his workload during times of staff shortages. He regularly volunteers for weekend shifts so his employees can spend more time with family while maintaining a positive attitude. Smith continually encourages and supports employees in their professional development.

“It’s an honor and I appreciate my colleagues in the district for the recognition,” Smith said when asked how he felt about the nomination and selection for the award.

As the mission continues, the District of Kansas City and those working and recovering at Harry S. Truman Lake will surely miss Smith’s leadership and passion for the job. Winning the 2022 Peer Ranger Recognition Award is a fitting tribute to Smith and his 32-year commitment to USACE and the Natural Resource Section.

“My focus throughout my career has been protecting and enhancing our natural resources…but I will miss the people I work with…I’ve met so many great people and the next generation will carry on the mission,” Smith said.

Past winners of the Kansas City District Ranger of the Year award include Derek Dorsey, Kyle Ruona, Lester Tacha, Ryan Williams, Samantha Jones and Erin Cordrey.

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