The Great Falls National Park has a new full-time park ranger, announced Congressman Bill Pascrell Wednesday afternoon.
Former Bergen County Sheriff Ernie Hernandez was welcomed today as the newest park ranger at the Great Falls National Historical Park. “It brings me great pride to welcome a decorated veteran like Ernie to the Paterson Great Falls family,” Pascrell said.
Hernandez is a Passaic County resident and United States Army combat veteran who has had several deployments to Afghanistan. Hernandez still serves the armed forces as a drill sergeant in the Army Reserves.
“As a veteran myself, I am absolutely thrilled to bring a decorated soldier on board,” Park Superintendent Darren Boch said. “Military service members bring a great deal of experience and dedication to their jobs, and as a uniformed federal agency, the National Park Service is a great place for veterans seeking to continue service to their country.”
Hernandez will work with the Great Falls Youth Corps in mentoring and coaching high school youths who work in the park during the summer. Hernandez will also work with the city and volunteers in running the park’s new welcome center which is presently preparing to open a gift shop and reception area in time for National Park Week during the third week of April.
“My job in the Army differs from the park service quite a bit, but the [Stetson] hats are similar so I think I’ll adapt just fine,” Hernandez said. “I’m looking forward to working in Paterson as a ranger to welcome visitors and do what I can to make their experience memorable.”
Hernandez worked at the park last summer as a seasonal ranger. This summer he is being hired under the Veterans Recruitment Appointment (VRA) Authority which allows federal agencies to hire veterans without competition.
“With his career in our Armed Forces and at the Bergen County Sheriff’s office, Ernie is exactly the kind of public servant we want to serve as a face of this jewel of the National Park System,” Pascrell said.
Jay Rahman contributed to this story.