Yellowstone National Park Celebrates Ranger Retiring After 45 Years of Service To the Park

by Amy Myers

Yellowstone National Park is giving a hats-off salute to retiring ranger Ralph Jerla who began his career with the National Park Service back in 1976. Throughout his 45 years, the ranger has overseen Yellowstone National Park’s water systems, ensuring the safety and quality of drinking water. Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly presented Ralph with a superintendent’s medallion for “exemplary service and support.”

NPS commemorated the park ranger’s milestone earlier today on Twitter. Along with a message of gratitude, the Service also posted two photos of Jerla, one from when he first began his career with Yellowstone and one towards the end of his 45 years with the park. In both photos, the retired ranger sports a bushy beard and modest smile, equally dedicated to the area’s water systems.

“A special thanks this week to Ralph Jerla, who started with the @NatlParkService at Yellowstone National Park in 1976 – and has worked at Yellowstone for the past 45 years overseeing the park’s water systems. Ralph retired this week. Thanks for a lifetime of service, Ralph!” NPS tweeted.

Fellow Outsiders chimed in with their own appreciation for the park ranger’s service.

“Thank You Ralph for Your Hard Work Preserving and Protecting This Wonder of #Nature!” one user wrote. “For 45 Years You Have Helped People Leave a Visit With Wonderful #Memories and Have Made It Possible for People to Live New Memories for Years to Come!”

Others wished the park ranger a happy retirement with his well-earned pension.

“Way to go Ralph. Enjoy that sweet, sweet federal pension!” wrote another Outsider.

“Enjoy retirement you earned it,” one said.

Retired Yellowstone Park Ranger Managed Micro-Hydroelectric Power Plant

During his time with Yellowstone National Park, Jerla helped oversee the installation and management of Yellowstone’s micro-hydroelectric power plant. Back in 2013, the park proudly announced the energy-efficient addition to the water system, ridding it of sulfur and silica. Only the size of a two-car garage, the plant cost the park roughly $1.1 million to install. However, NPS stated that the system would save the park $73,000 a year, practically paying for itself in 12 years.

Every day, Jerla monitored the micro plant’s temperature and water flow. He also had to lubricate the bearings when necessary to keep the system running smoothly.

“It’s very low maintenance,” the park ranger told Yellowstone Gate at the time.

Low maintenance or not, Jerla’s task with the micro-hydroelectric power plant was crucial in its ability to provide clean, efficient and eco-friendly water to the surrounding area. Tasks like these demonstrated the park ranger’s dedication to his job and the mission of NPS. While Jerla may no longer wear the National Park Service patch, he’ll likely continue to be a frequent visitor of his favorite national park.