Jim Kelley, Park Ranger, Thomson Ranger Office
By Mark Kane, Public Affairs

Kelley gives an honorary park ranger sticker to his daughter during one of her visits to her father's place of work at the Thomson Ranger Office.
Kelley gives an honorary park ranger sticker to his daughter during one of her visits to her father's place of work at the Thomson Ranger Office.
During the late '80s big hair was in, Indiana Jones and Marty McFly were bringing in box office bucks, and according to Jim Kelley, job openings for park rangers with the Corps of Engineers were plentiful.

Kelley, park ranger, Thomson Ranger Office, took one of those jobs shortly after he was graduated from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill., with a bachelor of science in forestry and outdoor recreation management Even before he was graduated, he said he knew he wanted to be a park ranger in the Corps.

"While in college, I worked two summers with the Corps of Engineers and enjoyed the work I did, the agency, and people I worked for," said Kelley.

Kelley grew up in Kewanee, Ill., a short 47-mile jaunt from his current residence in Port Byron, Ill., where he lives with his wife, their 2-year-old daughter and 5-month-old son, as well as the family cat, Smokey.

He says he especially likes spending time with his family and friends. As far as what he likes about his job, Kelley said, "The variety of job duties and the chance to work in an outdoor setting along the Mississippi River."

Kelley assists in the management of seven recreation areas that are operated by the Thomson Ranger Office. Look a little deeper into his job and you'll find that Kelley wears many hats that include: coordinating and conducting interpretive programs and special events, volunteer coordinating, patrolling and assisting visitors, managing and maintenance of recreation areas, as well as administrating contracts (law enforcement and service contracts).

Through all his duties and exposure to the Corps, Kelley said the things he likes most about working for this agency is simply, "The professionalism of the Corps and its employees," said Kelley.

In addition to spending time with his family and friends, Kelley's hobbies include skiing (downhill and cross country), hiking, camping, bicycling, softball, and traveling. Not a big surprise given the fact he enjoys being outdoors so much.

His advice to anyone reading this article is, "Enjoy the simple pleasures in life."

Kelley had one more bit of advice for anyone that wants a flavor of his surroundings, or many like it right here in our own District.

"If you have not had a chance to visit one of the Corps' river recreation areas, please come and check them out, you will be impressed," said Kelley.