HomeOutdoorsNational and Regional Recognitions Awarded to Great Smoky Mountains National Park Staff

National and Regional Recognitions Awarded to Great Smoky Mountains National Park Staff

by Jon D. B.
Rob Klein, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. (Photo credit: GRSM, NPS press release)

Through phenomenal contributions to Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GRSM), Rob Klein and Jordan Black have received regional and national awards for excellence.

Congratulations are in order for GRSM’s Fire Ecologist, Rob Klein, and Wildland Fire Module Superintendent Jordan Black. Both receive their awards for superior service, innovative thinking, and leadership, setting the bar high for GRSM’s already stellar staff.

Rob Klein (above) receives the regional Wildland Fire and Aviation Excellence Award. Jordan Black is recipient of the National Park Service Excellence in Mentorship Aviation Award (below).

Jordan Black, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. (Photo credit: NPS, GRSM press release)

“The Interior Region 2 Wildland Fire and Aviation Excellence Award presents annually for outstanding achievement in leadership and collaboration,” GRSM cites in their press release. “Fire Ecologist Rob Klein sees nomination for the award by his peers. GRSM cites his “collaborative mindset, inclusive communication, and unquestionable integrity” among his merits.

Last year, Klein worked collaboratively with fire management staff and with university researchers to coordinate ecological research. As GRSM‘s Fire Ecologist, Klein has also completed several extensive updates to fire management plans for the Appalachian-Piedmont-Coastal Zone.

“Rob being recognized as the 2021 National Park Service Interior Region 2 Wildland Fire and Aviation Excellence Award recipient goes well beyond his exemplary efforts within the year of 2021,” offers Regional Wildland Fire and Aviation Management Officer Shawn Nagle.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s World-Class Staff

“Over the past 20 plus years, Rob has contributed to and advanced the National Park Service mission of managing our National Parks for the benefit of future generations,” Nagle adds. “Many generations to come will also benefit from Rob’s care… And commitment to maintaining the aesthetic appeal of our natural resources.” 

As for Jordan Black, The National Aviation Office would award him a national honor. Black, the Wildland Fire Module Superintendent, is recipient of the National Park Service (NPS) Excellence in Mentorship Aviation Award.

“This award recognizes training and mentorship of aviation personnel that go above and beyond normal expectations to assist others in developing their personal or professional aviation growth,” GRSM cites. “During the award period, Black recognized the benefits of using Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to provide safer and more efficient operations.”

Black would also train to become a Department of Interior NPS UAS pilot. He would also help with search and rescue events, prescribed fire monitoring flights, and post-hurricane events. In addition, Black also helps train and mentor new pilots by teaching several Basic Remote Pilot Operator courses. As a result, he’s now a Lead Instructor in the field.  

“Jordan also bridges the gap between supervision and mentorship with his employees,’” says Acting Zone Fire Management Officer Shane Paxton. “That skill is reflected in this mentorship award. I’m proud of Jordan for passing his knowledge to the wildland fire community through aviation.”

From all of us here at Outsider, a hardy congratulations to Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s outstanding staff on these regional and national awards. For more information on the NPS Wildland Fire Program, visit the NPS website.