Chris Parkins, 35, has gone a long way in a short time with the Oregon State Parks system. In a little over four years of state park employment Parkins has emerged from his peers as park manager at the Wallowa Lake State Park.
Parkins did not attend college, but instead spent five years with the U.S. Coast Guard and five years with the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office in Newport.
He attributes his fast rise in the parks system to a willingness to move whenever an opportunity for advancement arose and the current climate in Oregon Parks where a lot of park managers are now retiring, partly because of the PERS situation..
Parkins first experienced Oregon while in the Coast Guard when he was stationed for a year in Newport where he worked search and rescue and fisheries patrol in the Bering Sea. When his stint with the Coast Guard was concluded he found work as a corrections officer and work crew supervisor for the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office.
But what the New Mexico native had always wanted to do was become a park ranger. This precipitated a career change in early 1999 when Parkins went to work as a park ranger doing patrol work at the Prineville Reservoir, doing some work for the Bureau of Reclamation. He did that for two years, then relocated for 10 months as a team leader at Cape Lookout near Tillamook. His next move prior to moving to the Wallowa Lake job effective Sept. 1 was for a year and a half at Sunset Bay State Park near Coos Bay where he was a park manager.
"Most of the moves to this point have been to get into this type of position," said Parkins of his new job at Wallowa Lake. He hopes to stay at least six to seven years.
Parkins' wife Sally was previously a bank manager, but is now a stay-at-home mom for their 1-year-old son Jackson. Both Chris and Sally are avid outdoorsmen and hope to avail themselves of the many opportunities offered by Wallowa County.