NASHVILLE – David Crockett Birthplace State Park’s Keifer Helle was one of three new Tennessee state park managers formally welcomed into their roles recently with a series of “Meet the Manager” events conducted by state officials.
All three managers were appointed prior to 2021, but COVID-19 restrictions delayed formal receptions for them.
Besides Helle, Tim Pharis of Lamar Alexander Rocky Fork State Park in Flag Pond and Monica Johnson at Roan Mountain State Park in Roan Mountain were recognized and welcomed.
“Tennessee State Parks are places where East Tennesseans make memories that last a lifetime,” Jim Bryson, deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), said in a published statement. “Park managers play a critical role in making those memories happen, so we are excited today to introduce them to the community.”
All three were promoted from ranger positions at Tennessee State Parks, Pharis from Lamar Alexander Rocky Fork, Johnson from Cumberland Mountain, and Helle from Roan Mountain.
Helle, a native of Greeneville, began his career in Tennessee State Parks in 2012. He worked as a seasonal interpretive ranger at David Crockett Birthplace State Park and Warriors’ Path State Park before becoming a full-time park ranger at Standing Stone State Park in Middle Tennessee in 2014.
He became a park ranger at Roan Mountain State Park in 2015. He coordinated 5K races across four Tennessee State Parks and created a Run Club manual. Helle earned a Bachelor of Science degree from East Tennessee State University in sport and leisure management. He is a graduate of TDEC’s Green Leadership Academy.
Pharis began at Tennessee State Parks as a seasonal interpretive ranger at Warriors’ Path State Park and Panther Creek State Park. He became a full-time ranger at Warriors’ Path in 2011 and transferred in 2015 to Lamar Alexander Rocky Fork, where he oversaw a variety of projects and activities.
Pharis graduated from East Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Science in parks and recreation with an emphasis on outdoor leadership and a minor in Appalachian studies. Prior to his time with Tennessee State Parks, he worked with the Student Conservation Association, the National Park Service, and the Tennessee Historical Commission.
Lamar Alexander Rocky Fork State Park is the state’s newest park, established in 2012.
Johnson, a native of Pikeville, Tenn., became a park ranger at Tims Ford State Park in 2007 then at Cumberland Mountain State Park in 2009. She began her career in the parks in 2000 as a seasonal clerk at Fall Creek Falls State Park before working at Cumberland Mountain State Park as a seasonal interpretive ranger and custodial worker.
She is a graduate of Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn., and earned a Master of Science degree from Middle Tennessee State University in leisure and sports management, with a concentration in parks and recreation management. Johnson is a graduate of State Park Leadership School, Park Manager Technical Institute, and TDEC’s Green Leadership Academy.