By Melody Vallieu - Editor, Miami Valley Today -  TROY — Nathaniel Metz’s job is a walk in the park — literally.

Metz was sworn in as the newest ranger for the Miami County Park District on Nov. 27, during the Board of Park Commissioners meeting at Lost Creek Reserve, Troy.

Metz began his service to the park district as a college intern in 2014 and has been with the district since that time. He became a full-time employee in August of this year in the operations department, where his responsibilities included upkeep and the daily closing of the county’s parks.

Metz, of Eaton, said the park ranger position is the beginning of a lifelong career goal. He said he has always been a nature lover, something he learned from his father, Jim Metz, an Environmental Occupations instructor at Upper Valley Career Center in Piqua.

When he was told he was to be named a park ranger, Metz said he was ecstatic.

“It was like a sigh of relief that I finally accomplished my goals,” said Metz, who played football and baseball for Eaton High School.

Fishing, hunting, hiking and backpacking are all activities Metz said he counts as pastimes.

“I’ve always had a love for the outdoors. I’ve always had that outside thrive,” he said. “I wanted to pick a career where I could be outdoors and then be able to help people.”

Metz said when he first began college, he had the usual big dreams of moving out West after graduation and working in a national park.

“When I started working here, that changed quickly because I really like our atmosphere at this park district. It’s kind of like that small town setting that I grew up in,” said Metz, who graduated in 2016 from Hocking College with an associate’s degree in Natural Resources/Law Enforcement and from the Greene County Career Center’s Police Academy in 2017. “You get to know everybody and it’s not just watching the people come through, it’s building relationships.”

Ohio’s ever-changing seasons are no bother to Metz, as he said he likes them all as long as he gets to be outside. “But I like the snow, it makes everything pretty for a little bit,” he said.

While all of the outdoor elements appeal to him, according to Metz, the animals are by far his favorite.

“From the birds to the snakes to the fish — really, all of it. I love the nature,” said Metz, who also is a part-time special deputy for the Preble County Sheriffs’s Office.

He said the transition into the new role as a ranger should be relatively easy because he is already familiar with the parks — especially his beloved Charleston Falls, where he has spent most of his career with the park district — and has a rapport with many of the regular visitors.

Metz counts Hobart Urban Nature Preserve as his second-favorite park because of its unusual location. “It’s neat because it’s not supposed to be there; it’s in the middle of Troy. It was all designed, and I think that is fascinating,” he said.

Safety will be his No. 1 priority on the job, Metz said. But meeting the district’s regular visitors and keeping the parks clean and making sure they are being used properly also are high on his list, he said.

“I’m most excited that I don’t have to ask all the time anymore. I can solve all of my own problems and benefit people that come to our parks more than I was before,” Metz said.

Metz said he has a good relationship with the park district staff and looks forward to his continued employment, but in his new role. Miami County Park District Executive Director J. Scott Myers said the staff also appreciates Metz.

“Nathan has been a valuable member of our staff for the past several years and we are looking forward to the additional responsibilities he will undertake,” Myers said.