News Column

Five questions with Rick Slade

July 7, 2014

By Sylvia Carignan, The Frederick News-Post, Md.

July 07--Rick Slade is superintendent at Monocacy National Battlefield. He has been a National Park Service employee since 2002 and took the top job at the battlefield park last year.

How did you get started in the National Park Service? I had an unusual entry into the National Park Service. I started my federal career with the Government Accountability Office, which is known as the investigative arm of Congress. It was interesting work, but I always had a passion for conservation. A friend of mine worked for the NPS and encouraged me to apply for a job, which I was thrilled to get. Next thing I knew, my wife and I were moving from D.C. to the Texas-Mexico border.

What's the most challenging part of being a superintendent? I've been at Monocacy for just over a year, and I'm still learning how to do the job. There is so much variation from park to park that there's no clear model for how to be a successful superintendent. The biggest challenge for me is identifying and opening up new opportunities for visitors to experience the park while still preserving the essential history and character of the battlefield.

What's the most enjoyable part of your job? The best part is working with a terrific staff, amazingly committed volunteers and very supportive partners to make the park a great place to visit. It's a pleasure to work every day in a beautiful, historically rich setting. I get the most joy from talking with visitors who have had a great experience in the park and made a particular connection to the place.

What do you want people to know about your park? I'd like people to recognize that the park is still relatively new and hasn't yet reached its full potential. I've talked with a number of local residents who aren't very familiar with the park. I'd like them to know that it is a place of tremendous value, both as a historic site and as a constant generator of tourism-related revenue and jobs.

What's in store for the future of Monocacy National Battlefield? The park has been open to the public for just over 20 years. In that time, most of the buildings and landscapes have been restored or preserved, so we have a great foundation for the future. The next steps involve creating new ways for visitors to enjoy and experience the park, developing new stories to tell, and building greater recognition and support for the park.


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Source: Frederick News-Post (MD)

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