March 5, 2021
Since 1951, Delaware State Parks have grown to include seventeen parks, five campgrounds, 150+ miles of trails, historic sites, a zoo, and much more. To celebrate our 70th anniversary, we want to hear your stories of the meaningful experiences you have had in Delaware State Parks. Enjoy this story from Janice Durham who had over 30 years of state service!
“I am happy to submit part of my State Parks Story. My entire story would take too long!!!! First of all, State Parks and I are the same age. Both of us are 70 Years Old (Young) this year!! I am so honored and happy to share this story about my experiences with our wonderful state parks.
As a child, I visited our State Parks with my family and friends. I enjoyed our picnics, swimming at Lums Pond and Trap Pond State Parks and I enjoyed visiting many of our other State Parks. Little did I know back then that I would have the privilege and honor to actually work for our State Parks System! After working in the Secretary’s Office at DNREC for about 10 years which I enjoyed, I applied and was hired by William J. “Bill” Hopkins, the wonderful Director of State Parks. After “Bill” retired, I worked for Charles A. “Chazz” Salkin, another wonderful Director! I can’t even put into words the gratification I experienced working for them in that Division.
During this time, I especially enjoyed the opportunities to attend meetings and events in our state parks with other state and local park agencies. It was interesting to see how the agencies worked together to ensure our visitors have a positive experience in our Parks. I learned that for a small state, Delaware has pristine park areas and offers rewarding experiences! It was during those times that I really developed an appreciation for our state parks.
One great time I remember, I volunteered to help with an event held at Bellevue State Park sponsored by our Special Programs Section where I and another co-worker dressed up as Clowns and danced and interacted with our park visitors with disabilities. That was so rewarding for our visitors and us! What wonderful individuals they were! And once I was “Clifford the Cardinal”, the mascot for Brandywine Creek State Park.
On another occasion at DNREC’s Exhibit Hall at the Delaware State Fair, I was “Willie Water, the mascot for the Water Resources Division. I volunteered to help that division that day. The divisions always helped each other and still do. I was even a WAC (Women’s Army CORPS) for a day for a special event at the theatre located at Fort DuPont State Park! I could go on and on about my great experiences I encountered and my love for state parks.
You see, what I enjoyed learning about our state parks is that park employees offer the citizens of our first state a healthy and fun experience when they visit our state parks. Our visitors get out in the fresh air with their families or go alone for some quiet time, and maybe some go for walks with their dogs, to get some exercise by walking, jogging, horseback riding, on our wonderful trails, experiencing nature, canoeing, (the list goes on and on!) Maybe they need a getaway to camp in our great campgrounds or our beautiful cabins. We have so many unique state parks from historical ones, beautiful beach parks, flat land, and water to the south to beautiful rolling hills to the north. I learned that our parks staff are hardworking dedicated people that have a passion for our parks and they share that passion with their visitors. I, too, have that passion.
After losing my Mother, I retired with 33 years of state service but I missed working at State Parks so a year later I applied for an AmeriCorps position with our First State Heritage Park and was assigned to Legislative Hall which is one of our First State Heritage Parks. In that position as part of my job, I gave tours of Legislative Hall to the public who were visiting the Hall and I learned a lot about our Legislative Process. And what helped me with giving tours was that I had also taken Interpretive Training in Parks from a Great Trainer! I enjoyed being an Interpreter at Fort Delaware, and on The Green for the First State Heritage Park, and at the Governor’s Office during Old Dover Days, etc. Also in my AmeriCorps position, I really developed an appreciation for the Community Projects that was part of my AmeriCorps assignment.
One of the projects I experienced was with other AmeriCorps employees to improve the living conditions for a Delaware resident. Seeing how appreciative the lady was after we finished our work warmed my heart. I have to give a shout-out to Glenn Stubbolo and his staff for their great work with the AmeriCorps project.
Later I became a member of our State Parks Council. So you see I am a “Parky” and always will be a “Parky”!!! Thank you so much for the opportunity to share my experience with you and my Love for our state parks! Thanks to our Great Director, Ray Bivens, and his Great Staff for their wonderful job at preserving our beautiful state parks for us and for future generations! Now, go tell a friend who has never visited our state parks just what they’re missing!!! Great experiences awaiting them especially during these times! Please take care of yourselves and your families. “Love” and Respectfully Submitted, Janice “Jan” Durham “Running Dove”
Thank you Janice for your story!
To celebrate our 70th anniversary, we want to hear your stories of the meaningful experiences you have had in Delaware State Parks. To learn more and to submit your story, click here.