Staff Spotlight, James Mayor

Park ranger on the beach holding a replica sea turtle skull.

James Mayor, Park Ranger

James keeps William J. "Billy Joe" Rish Recreation Area beautiful and safe for visitors, volunteers, park staff and wildlife. Whether he’s cleaning a cabin or creating a 40-foot papier-mâché rattlesnake for a parade, James puts his whole heart into his work and is up for any challenge.

James chose to become a park ranger because he has a go-getter mentality and “what better direction to put that energy than back into protecting the environment?” He grew up in Upper Michigan and has always enjoyed the outdoors, but beach life was a new experience for him. It didn’t take him long to fully embrace this new setting. A volunteer describes James as a “human sponge,” because of his passion for soaking up knowledge and sharing it with others.

You’ll find him conducting sea turtle patrols and endangered beach mouse surveys, and leading interpretive programs. To date, he’s led over 30 tours of our beach, educating visitors about our park’s purpose and the natural resources they encounter. He encourages visitors to observe the natural ecosystem and says the best part of the beach tours is “watching children’s faces light up when they learn something new, like how seashells are made.”

When James isn’t leading programs, you will find him walking from office to office sharing delicious, locally baked goods with his co-workers. James shows up every day as a giver and team-player. He coordinates, trains and works alongside co-workers and volunteers as they maintain park structures and amenities. James says camaraderie with the team is part of what inspires him to come to work with a smile on his face.

That isn’t all that inspires him to be here – James chose Rish Recreation Area because of its quiet location and its designation as a barrier-free park. This park provides a “bridge to nature” for people who don’t always have a chance to explore it, and it allows James to share his favorite outdoor experiences with a broader audience. One such experience is beachcombing during the winter storm season when the wind and waves blow interesting sea life into our waters, like Portuguese man-o-wars and blue buttons!

His dedication to excellence makes him a model park ranger, and we are lucky to have James here at Rish Recreation Area!

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