Retiring Blue Ridge Parkway superintendent reflects on 37 years with the National Park Service

Mark Woods will retire as superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway on July 3, 2017, but on July 4 he’ll don the flathat one last time as grand marshal of the Lake Junaluska Fourth of July Parade.

Woods was still in college when he started working for the Park Service, knowing he wanted to do some type of conservation work but not exactly sure what form that would take. He started out as a summer seasonal, doing resource management work at ninety six National Historic sites, and it didn’t take long for him to see a future with the national parks.

“I loved it,” he said. “I realized the Park Service offered really so much you could do, from history to natural resource issues, firefighting, law enforcement, and I just realized it was a career I wanted to pursue.”

After resource management, Woods got into the Park Service’s law enforcement branch. He also held jobs in interpretation and education before taking his first superintendent post at Guilford Courthouse National Military Park, in Greensboro. From then, he went on to become superintendent at Virgin Islands National Park, Cumberland Gap National Seashore, Natchez Trace Parkway and, in 2013, the Blue Ridge Parkway.

In total, he’s worked at nine different parks, as well as a number of shorter-term detail assignments and stints as associate regional director and deputy regional director for the Park Service’s regional office in Atlanta.

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