Story by Chuck Walker
MOBILE, Ala. – Success in life can often be measured in many ways. Some consider financial wealth a sign of success. For some it might be prestige or fame. While others might consider family accomplishments or attaining certain goals a measure of success.
In a recent article on the secrets of success, Forbes Magazine found that loving your job is an important precursor to success. That if you enjoy what you do, your motivation to improve is innate, as opposed to forced, which results in success.
Anne Loper, a park ranger with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Black Warrior-Tombigbee Resource Management Office in Demopolis, Alabama, is a living embodiment of the theory of the article.
Loper, who has been a ranger for the past 11 years, said that the variety of each day on the job, makes things interesting and aids in the enjoyment of her job.
“My day is always different and filled with the unexpected, so it certainly does not get boring,” Loper said. “What I like most is planning and carrying out special projects with the Friends of Foscue Cooperative Association, volunteer park hosts and our community. Some examples are the following: Spring Break Bash for Special Needs students, Pickin’ and Grinnin’ for Foscue campers, Community Easter Egg Hunt, Outdoor Adventure Day Camp and special park improvement projects with volunteer hosts.”
Considering success, it is ironic that a promotion on a previous job, helped pave the way for her move to USACE as park ranger.
After being promoted to district conservationist with U.S. Department of Agriculture, she found moving to a desk job unfulfilling.
“As a district conservationist I did not get to work directly with the farmers and producers as I once did as a soil conservationist,” Loper said. “I just pushed paper and did not see the direct results of landowner stewardship and conservation practices implementation on the ground. The job became less fulfilling and I truly missed working directly with the farmers on site.”
The transition to a park ranger was a great fit for Loper because of the enjoyment she gets from working directly with the public.
Jason Cassity, BWT site manager and Loper’s supervisor, said Loper is the epitome of what a USACE ranger should be.
“When it comes to representing the Corps, there is no better ambassador than Anne,” Cassity said. “Her ability to connect with people is second to none. No matter the situation, whether it’s public speaking or general visitor assistance, people leave the conversation, time and time again, with a positive image of her and the agency she represents. Every office would be better served with someone like her.”
Loper grew up in Marengo County about 10 miles west of Demopolis. She and her husband Anthony Loper are the primary caregivers of Anne’s Mom, Margaret, who was diagnosed with cancer.
She said the teamwork and camaraderie she feels for her co-workers is another reason she loves her job and loves working at the BWT.
“The positive support I receive from family and friends allows me to look forward to my job each day with the goal of helping others,” Loper said. I really don’t feel my job is difficult, it is a matter of treating people the way you would like to be treated. I am very fortunate to have such a wonderful job in my hometown where I believe I can make a difference in an area special to me.”
In the 11 years Loper has been a ranger she has accomplished a lot. She started a native grasses campaign that allows natural native grasses to grow so they can reduce the mowing cost for the park. She leads the Spring Break Bash for special needs students and works directly with the volunteer hosts who work the gate and clean the restrooms of the parks.
Her advice to anyone who wants to become a ranger is to consider the rewards, just like she did, and to realize that all rewards aren’t monetary.
“Being a park ranger can be a rewarding position, because you never have the same day,” Loper said. “Once you complete your assigned duty responsibilities you can be creative and focus on areas where you get fulfillment. My days are always filled with something unexpected, so it certainly isn’t boring. I love my job because I love helping others and feeling like I made a difference.”