MIAMI COUNTY — There’s a new face to be found among the flora and fauna of the county’s numerous parks, but this one’s not of the four-footed variety. This newcomer makes his rounds throughout the park district, protecting natural resources and serving the many visitors who pass through to hike, fish, and enjoy other activities.

Meet Cory Reis, the newest member of the Miami County Park District’s ranger force, who was hired approximately two months ago.

“With the addition of Cory, we now have three rangers,” J. Scott Myers, executive director of the Miami County Park District, said.

Myers said the park district follows the same hiring process as the Miami County Sheriff’s Office, including using the same testing agencies. Prospective rangers are required to:

  • Be certified by the Ohio Peace Officers Training Commission
  • Pass a background investigation
  • Pass a drug test
  • Pass a physical, polygraph and psychological testing
  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Have a high school diploma

Reis not only meets these criteria, he surpasses them. In addition to completing the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy in 2014, and working as a ranger for the Lorain County Metro Parks, he has extensive law enforcement credentials: an associate’s degree in criminal justice, and training as a bike patrol officer and Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Officer.

Explaining what sparked his interest in becoming a park ranger, Reis said, “I have always loved the outdoors and visited parks through out my life. I grew up hunting, fishing, camping, and biking. And I enjoy visiting different parks, especially national parks, with my girlfriend in our free time.

“One of my instructors in the police academy was a Lorain County Metro Parks ranger and that is where I learned about the ranger career and decided it was the perfect fit for me.”

The 26-year-old, who hails from Grafton in Lorain County and now lives in Pleasant Hill, also has flat water rescue, self-aid and buddy aid, Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE), and active shooter training.

Contrary to what cartoons would have you believe, the daily tasks of a park ranger have nothing to do with confiscating pic-a-nic baskets from bothersome bears (though he has rescued a baby screech owl and encountered a spiny soft-shell turtle). Reis’ job comes with a great deal of responsibility.

“My main duties include enforcing park rules and State ORC (Ohio Revised Code) laws within and adjacent to park property. I patrol all the parks within Miami County. This includes everything from making sure our natural resources are being protected; checking fishing license on rivers — you don’t need a license for ponds in the park; making sure no one removes any natural resource from the park or damages them,” Reis explained. “I also enforce traffic laws and any other state law violation that occurs within or adjacent to the park.”

Another aspect of his job is one most people probably don’t realize: public relations. “This could include helping answer a question from a park visitor, showing up to a education program, or general contact with a park visitor on the trail,” said Reis, who served six years in the Ohio Army National Guard as an infantryman with the rank of sergeant.

With his background in law enforcement, Reis — a former security guard for NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland — recognizes that the presence of park rangers can make visitors feel more secure.

“Having a law enforcement officer in the parks is important because it deters crime and makes the park visitors feel safe,” he said. “Some parks are in remote areas, so park visitors are always glad to see a ranger out on the trail, knowing you are patrolling the area. It also helps protect our natural resources so everyone has a opportunity to enjoy what the park has to offer.”

Enjoying the parks is what it’s all about, not just for the visitors, but for Reis himself. “The best part of my job is working in the outdoors, protecting our natural resources and people of Miami County,” he said. “I have always had a passion for law enforcement and the outdoors, so I feel this is one of the best jobs out there.”

by Belinda M. Paschal at (937) 451-3341

Photo by Mike Ullery

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