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Cheto Olais honored with Harry Yount Award

Discussion in 'Archives - Yahoo Canyons Group' started by Tom Jones, Mar 31, 2005.

  1. Tom Jones

    Tom Jones Guest

    NPS Servicewide National Harry Yount Award Winner Named

    Aniceto "Cheto" Olais, chief ranger at Zion NP, has been named this year's winner of the national Harry Yount Award, a peer recognition that is given to that individual whose overall impact, record of accomplishments, and excellence in traditional ranger duties has had significant impact in creating an appreciation for the park ranger profession on the part of the public and other members of the profession.

    Olais, representing Intermountain Region. was selected from the seven regional Harry Yount Award winners.

    Cheto's nomination, prepared with input from several park superintendents, the staff at FLETC, and many rangers from across the country, follows:

    Ranger Cheto Olais embodies the spirit of the Harry Yount Award. Through a career of excellence, as an interpreter, generalist, and protection ranger he has modeled, fostered, and raised the bar for traditional ranger values.

    Outstanding Leadership

    If it is possible to be born to lead, he was. If not, then Cheto has spent his entire life perfecting this attribute. His seemingly limitless energy, enthusiasm, and sense of purpose is infectious. He studies the principles of leadership, and seeks out other accomplished leaders to improve his skills and learn more. His effectiveness comes from an innate ability to identify important, worthwhile strategic goals, chart a course to get there, communicate that vision to others, and enlist their commitment to achieve.

    Exemplary Contributions

    Cheto's contributions to the NPS are many, diverse, and will endure far beyond his retirement date. Always willing to share what the Service has to offer, he is an outstanding instructor in almost every ranger discipline and teaches often. Since 1982 he has been detailed regularly as a State Department Instructor in a variety of ICS, wildland fire, and law enforcement courses – often in Spanish – for Latin American and Caribbean countries. Most recently in 2004 he spent two weeks teaching wildland fire and law enforcement management in Honduras. In 1995, after observing an alarming increase in drug and illegal alien traffic in the formerly sleepy Organ Pipe Cactus NM, and concerned for his rangers safety, he initiated the first NPS Special Operations Course. Now, 13 years later, almost 400 rangers and officers from other agencies have benefited from his efforts. It is the only advanced law enforcement course NPS FLETC offers, and is widely recognized as the best in the country. Many rangers wait years to get in. He helped develop the Non-Lethal Training Ammunition program for the service and continually improves this important learning tool. Recently at Zion NP he revived a project that had languished for 15 years, and the newly completed Emergency Services Building sets a new standard for professionalism, design, and environmental efficiency. These things matter, but the true test of a person's contribution in this world does not come in the form of a building or a program. It is in how many lives are touched, and in turn, what they do with them. Cheto first and foremost cares about people. He mentors, teaches, and encourages everyone around him to be better. He turns potential into performance - that is his greatest contribution to the National Park Service - and that will be his legacy.

    Notably High Standards of Performance

    Cheto has been an achiever since the first day he put on a Park Service uniform. A look at his record shows two awards before his first permanent job, and no letup since. He is continually recognized for his performance simply because of the standard he sets for himself: Excellence. It is defined in collaboration with those he works for and with, and has a shape, feel, and timeframe. Cheto prepares carefully, his products show it. His reputation for high standards is known far and wide, and people often ask "What's it like to work with him?" They have heard about the uniform standards and equipment inspections and fitness requirements and may be hoping to hear someone complain. I've heard many rangers answer that question, and it always is a variation of this: "It's not easy, but at the end of the day you know you've accomplished something." Process is important, product is the result. He knows who he is and what he stands for. It is refreshing, and inspiring. He communicates in person, and manages on foot. This outstanding work ethic and love of the land is rumored to derive from his parents and growing up on a ranch working with horses. His wife, Laura, and children Aleana and Kelec ground him, and are partners in everything he does.

    Excellence in Traditional Ranger Duties and Skills

    The man can walk the talk. His skill base is broad and deep, and continually improving because he loves to work at it. Firearms, structural fire, wildland fire, wilderness survival, tracking, SCUBA, SET Team Leader, canyoneering, All-Risk Team member, FBI National Academy Graduate. These skills are the result of his love for the profession, and living it every day. Despite running a complex operation, he is in the field often. He has worked in virtually every aspect of rangering, fee collection, interpretation, resource management, and protection. He knows his resource, and loves sharing it with others. Continually organizing hikes, rappelling trips, and tours for community groups, he makes his park look good by bringing people together in it. The FBI works better with the County Sheriff because of him; civic groups understand the park mission better, because of him.

    Dedication to the Park Ranger Profession

    At a time when rangers are under pressure – some say attack – Cheto stands for the values that outstanding members of this profession have always held close. He believes a ranger should be an Ambassador for the Service, multi-skilled, responsive to park visitors, and involved in managing all park operations. He knows that you can train and equip rangers to deal with emergency services and law enforcement and not lose their identity. He is involved in discussions at every level to ensure that a professional ranger force led by Park Service Managers stays that way. And he exports our model to others. Cheto has a vast network of contacts both inside and outside the Service. He is always looking to learn from other agencies and bring that knowledge back to improve our profession. He is currently planning another joint training with participants from the FBI, DEA, BLM, Forest Service, and local agencies. It makes us all stronger. Every ranger he works with recites the Oath of Office, together, every year. He knows that individual integrity translates into organizational integrity.

    Overall Excellence in Service

    One of Chetos greatest strengths is the ability to work effectively across organizational lines. He can bring people together from vastly different backgrounds and disciplines to accomplish anything. He is comfortable in the Superintendents' office and the maintenance break room, and makes sure to have fun in both places. He casts a wide net, and the happiest I have ever seen him is at a barbecue, serving others. No individual has had more impact on rangers, and the art of rangering, than Cheto Olais in the last several years. It's time, perhaps past due, to honor him with the Harry Yount Award.