Melrose park ranger wins national recognition

Published 12:01 am Monday, December 28, 2015

With Natchez National Historical Park Superintendent Kathleen Bond showing her support in the background, Barney Schoby Jr. smiles after receiving the Flat Hat Award from the National Park Traveler’s Club. (Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat)

With Natchez National Historical Park Superintendent Kathleen Bond showing her support in the background, Barney Schoby Jr. smiles after receiving the Flat Hat Award from the National Park Traveler’s Club. (Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — If someone puts a question to Barney Schoby Jr. that he doesn’t know when he’s giving a tour at Melrose, he’s going to find out.

And you can bet that he’ll work that information into the next tour he gives.

It’s that kind of will-do attitude that earned Schoby the Flat Hat Award, a recognition from the National Park Traveler’s Club that is given annually to a National Park Service Ranger or volunteer whose service club members have especially noted. The name of the award comes from the style of hats worn by park rangers. Only one award is given nationwide each year.

“We give this award to someone who stands out, when we have seen someone who goes the extra mile to be informative,” said National Park Traveler’s Club Vice President Mel Gilbert, who presented the award to Schoby Sunday.

A club member from Colorado nominated Schoby in January 2015 after touring Melrose, part of the Natchez National Historical Park. Others who had taken the tour weighed in and agreed that Schoby gave a “most entertaining and informative tour,” that included extra personal research that went above and beyond the National Park Service’s baseline tour.

The nomination came the same year he started as a full-time park ranger.

“He is a wonderful example of the people who make the National Park Service a wonderful treasure to America,” the nominating form said.

Natchez National Historical Park Superintendent Kathleen Bond said Schoby excels at what he does at the park.

“It is a blessing to have someone with Barney’s dedication and personality,” Bond said. “A tour guide is someone who deals in people skills, and that is what he does — he deals in people skills.”

Schoby started at Natchez National Historical Park as a volunteer in 2010, and worked there as an intern in 2011 and 2012. He started as a full-time ranger this year.

“It is a humbling experience, to start here as a volunteer and then become an intern, which led to a full-time job as a ranger, and now I am being recognized,” Schoby said.

“At the end of the day, it was the grace of God that has let me do what I love to do and get paid for it, and if you do what you love you will never work a day in your life.”

Schoby said no matter the size of the tour, he’s going to treat the people the same.

“Whether it is one person or 100, every person gets the exact same tour,” he said. “When we close the gates here at the end of the day, we want to make sure all our guests have had a wonderful experience here at Melrose.”

But after sharing his thoughts and only a few moments of photos and hand-shaking, Schoby headed over to a couple who had walked up during the presentation — they were his next tour.