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Yosemite Ranger Receives Prestigious Award

YOSEMITE – Yosemite National Park Ranger Aaron Smith received the Pacific West Region Harry Yount Award, given annually for excellence in “rangering.”

Smith was recognized for his overall impact, record of accomplishments, and excellence in traditional ranger duties. He will be considered, along with six other National Park Service regional award winners, for the National Harry Yount Award.

This prestigious award is one of the highest recognitions a ranger can receive. The award was presented at Yosemite National Park on Monday, Feb. 10.

Ranger Aaron Smith was recognized for consistently performing at a high level in a multitude of duties of a National Park Ranger. These include performing technical high angle rescues on granite monoliths, such as El Capitan, in hazardous conditions.

Aaron Smith Park Ranger at Yosemite National Park is shown here on a high angle rescue near Bridalveil Fall high above Yosemite ValleySmith has performed dozens of these rescues, often leading the rescue team, and is consistently utilized for his technical skills and leadership ability. His leadership in rescue missions has saved the lives of many park visitors who have found themselves in perilous conditions.

Smith also serves on the Pacific West Region Special Events and Tactical Team and the Yosemite Special Response Team. These teams are comprised of rangers with specialized skills who are recognized for their abilities to respond to complex and potentially dangerous situations.

Ranger Aaron Smith also performs the wide cadre of park ranger duties, such as law enforcement, emergency medical services (he retains a Park Medic Certificate), structural firefighting, and backcountry search and rescue. Smith is widely considered to be the “consummate ranger” and is seen by his peers and a leader, and expert in all of his duties.

“We are ecstatic that Aaron Smith has received this prestigious award and is being recognized for his high level dedication and skills,” stated Kevin Killian, Yosemite’s Chief Ranger. “I have personally worked side-by-side with Aaron and I am continually impressed with his level of skill and execution of his duties. Aaron is truly deserving of this award.”

Smith grew up in Redding, California, and has worked in Yosemite National Park for 10 years. Prior to serving as a Park Ranger, he worked as Search and Rescue Technician in Tuolumne Meadows and an Entrance Fee Ranger at Tioga Pass. Other duties Smith performs include serving as a Field Training Officer, co-managing the Yosemite Search and Rescue team, Helicopter Crew Member, Use of Force Instructor, and Search and Rescue Instructor. He and his wife, also a National Park Ranger, live in Yosemite Valley.

Aaron Smith, along with the other six Regional Harry Yount Award winners, is one of the finalists for the National Harry Yount Award. The national award will be presented in Washington, D.C., in March 2014.

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