YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK — Yosemite National Park Ranger Jack Hoeflich is among the best and most versatile park rangers in the country — and he’s now got the hardware to prove it.
At a special ceremony held at the United States Department of the Interior last week, Hoeflich was honored as the 2018 recipient of the National Park Service’s Harry Yount Award for Excellence in the Art of Rangering.
Hoeflich, a native of Woodstock, Illinois, has worked at YNP since 1999, first as a volunteer, then as a seasonal and permanent ranger. He received the prestigious award, named after the world’s first-known park ranger, on August 22.
Yount was a legendary ranger who patrolled Yellowstone National Park in the 1880s. The Harry Yount Award annually honors a U.S. National Park ranger who “consistently excels in the performance of duties that serve park visitors and protect the natural, historical and cultural resources of parks.”
Hoeflich serves as a park medic, structural firefighter, wildland firefighter, technical rock rescue instructor, law enforcement officer, emergency services manager, supervisor, and helicopter and swift water rescue technician.
“Jack’s incredible intellect, physical fitness, stamina, climbing prowess and passion for helping others align perfectly with his career of providing assistance to visitors to Yosemite’s beautiful and rugged landscape,” said YNP spokesman Scott Gediman.
On any given day, park visitors may encounter Hoeflich directing traffic, patrolling Yosemite Valley on a bicycle, taking ambulance calls, serving as a search and rescue Incident Commander, performing a rescue on Half Dome, giving directions to a lost visitor, or mentoring new rangers in the field.
“Other rangers look at him and often wonder, ‘How is he so good at all that stuff?’” Gediman said.
“We are proud to honor and recognize Jack as the recipient of the 2018 Harry Yount Award,” said Yosemite Superintendent Michael Reynolds, who called Hoeflich “one of the most dedicated and skilled rangers in the National Park Service.”
“In addition to being an exemplary ranger, Jack also serves as a mentor to other rangers throughout the Park,” Reynolds added.
During his career, Hoeflich has participated in and led some of the most challenging and time-critical rescues ever undertaken by the National Park Service, including rescues on El Capitan, Half Dome and other technical climbing areas throughout Yosemite National Park.