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The original item was published from 12/7/2016 12:21:32 PM to 1/7/2017 12:00:01 AM.

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Posted on: December 7, 2016

[ARCHIVED] City Spotlight: Craig Winger, Senior Park Ranger


If you’ve driven by Old Poway Park lately and noticed staff festively decorating for the holiday season, you’ve probably seen Senior Park Ranger Craig Winger. Supervising the city’s Reserve Park Ranger program is his main focus, but this time of year you’ll find him fully immersed in getting the park ready for “Christmas in the Park,” a free community celebration on Saturday, Dec. 10.

Winger has been with the park for three years – and was a Reserve Park Ranger before that. An avid hiker and all-around outdoors person, Winger calls Poway “home,” even though he doesn’t physically live here. When he’s not at work, he says you can find him out running the trails around Poway.

One of your main roles is to oversee Poway’s Reserve Park Ranger program. How do our volunteers enrich Poway’s parks?

The goal of the Reserve Park Ranger Program is to create and maintain a fun and safe environment for the public. Reserve Rangers patrol more than 55 miles of trails. They do everything from checking fishing permits, to answering questions about the parks and facilities. The Reserves do a wide variety of duties. They make sure all the parks are safe and in proper working order, they educate the public on the rules and regulations, and really play a big role in providing great customer service.

You got your start as a volunteer Park Ranger. What’s something that you learned as a volunteer that’s helped shape how you do your job as a Senior Park Ranger?

During my tenure as a Reserve Park Ranger, I learned how the city operated. I learned about everything from the software that we use, to city rules and regulations. I also got to know supervisors from different departments. More specifically, I saw how to run the Reserve Ranger Program. I saw some things that I thought I could improve. I was able to easily transition to the position of Senior Park Ranger due to my experience.

In addition to working with volunteers, you play a key role in planning Old Poway Park’s popular “Christmas in the Park.”  What, specifically, do you do – and what’s your favorite part of this cherished community event?

City staff and volunteers play a huge role in the success of Christmas in the Park. My duties in planning this great event are mainly entertainment and logistics. I really enjoy being able to freely choose the performers - we have more than 16 performers each year. Our supervising staff really gives us free range to create new attractions for our events. I also love being involved in the logistics of bringing this event to life. There are a lot of details that go into making sure all the Christmas lights light up, our entertainers have sound to be heard and the vendors have what they need to make this night special for our guests.

Can you share any “behind the scenes” stories about what it takes to pull this together?

During the set-up of Christmas in the Park, we really need to work well as a team. The success of this event really counts on the teamwork of the staff and volunteers alike. We are all given separate duties, but are all trained well enough to be able to help with any duties that need extra attention.

The City of Poway offers four Reserve Park Ranger trainings a year. Apply here, or for more information, email Senior Park Ranger Craig Winger.

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