28. CRAIG WHIPPLE: VERMONT’S STATE PARK STEWARD
Vermont has 55 state parks and during his 14-year tenure as Director of State Parks, Craig Whipple did his best to preserve and enhance them and get as many people out enjoying the parks as possible. Whipple was the mastermind behind the First Day Hikes—free, guided New Year’s Day hikes at parks across the state—and got doctors to hand out prescriptions for (and free passes to) a day in a park.
He helped to start the Venture Vermont outdoor challenge that encourages families to explore the outdoors and receive a free state parks pass. He spearheaded the founding of Vermont Parks Forever, the statewide non-profit friends group supporting the parks, and helped found the national State Parks Leadership School.
In 2016, he became one of only three Vermonters ever to be designated a “Legend” by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration. Whipple, along with Commissioner Michael Snyder, was also responsible for creating and securing funding for the Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative.
After nearly 40 years in state government Whipple retired in August. If you’re lucky, you might find him sitting around a campfire next summer, strumming bluegrass tunes on a guitar and telling stories to his grandkids.