Lela White joins staff at national park
The George Rogers Clark National Historical Park has a new ranger.
Park rangers and representatives from the various Vincennes tourist and historic attractions spent Thursday morning officially welcoming Lela White to her new position at the park.
White is filling the position left vacant by Jason Collins, who after nine years of park service in Vincennes transferred to Moore’s Creek National Battlefield in North Carolina this fall.
White says she is looking forward to her new role because she really enjoys living history.
“I’m a living historian, and this is a different era,” she said, “so it’s giving me a chance to learn something new.”
White, who is originally from Idaho, says she’s looking forward to getting involved in the community in other ways as well, specifically as a first responder.
“I’m an EMT and I was also a volunteer firefighter, so I’m hoping I can join up here after I get settled in,” she said.
Chief Ranger Joe Herron said the position was highly sought after, with more than 75 applications making the cut to get to his desk.
But White was a clear frontrunner.
“She really stood out because of the experience she brings with living history,” he said.
The local national park is the eighth national park placement in White’s career, with her most recent posting at Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi.
Some of her other positions include Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota, the National Mall in Washington, D.C. and the Statue of Liberty in New York City, where she was an EMT.
Herron says it’s common in the National Park Service to see rangers change sites several times throughout their careers.
“A lot of people do summertime work or seasonal work at different parks to later try to get a permanent position,” Herron said.
For Herron, and other park rangers, their various backgrounds serve as a benefit for the communities they temporarily call home.
“It’s good to have some local folks, but there’s also an opportunity for people in the National Park Service to bring in new ideas, which helps keep things from getting stale,” he said.
Herron also noted that it is specifically the many varied job experiences that helped White land the job at GRC.
White’s new job will come with a wide range of responsibilities, from curating the museum to taking charge of the park’s social media accounts.
“We wear a lot of hats,” Herron said of being a park ranger. “It’s a big job, and she fit the individual requirements we needed.
“She had done a lot of these things at her previous jobs,”