The newest addition to the Great Falls National Park family has been announced: Ernie Hernandez, who also happens to be the former sheriff of Bergen County. Congressman Bill Pascrell made the announcement last Wednesday, stating that it has made him extremely happy to welcome Ernie, a decorated veteran, to his new position.
Currently calling Passaic County home, Hernandez is a combat veteran from the U.S. Army and served several deployments in Afghanistan. He currently serves in the armed forces as an Army Reserve Drill Sergeant.
Park Superintendent Darren Boch, who is also a veteran, is thrilled to welcome Hernandez to the park. He said that former members of the military have quite a bit to offer in terms of job dedication and experience, making positions available with the National Park System the ideal career path for veterans who wish to continue to serve their country.
In his new position, Hernandez will take on a number of challenging roles, including working side-by-side with the Great Falls Youth Corps to coach and mentor high school students who spend their summers working at the park. He will also be working with a number of volunteers and city employees to coordinate and manage the new welcome center, which will be home to both a reception area and gift shop. If all goes as planned, the welcome center will open by the third week in April, which coincides with National Park Week.
Hernandez stated that while his job in the Army is quite different from his role with the park service, the hats are quite similar and he feels confident he’ll get up to speed with things in record time. He added that he is excited to work with the other rangers to welcome park visitors, helping to ensure they have a memorable experience.