After 37 years with JCPRD, Superintendent of Safety, Heritage, and Outdoor Education (SHOE) Dan Field is retiring in late September.
"It's hard to leave here," Field said recently. "This has been the job I wanted to have since I was in fifth grade. I've done every part of this job, and I enjoyed every moment of it."
"His accomplishments are far-reaching in the law enforcement field, and they're far-reaching in the interpretation field," said JCPRD Executive Director Jill Geller. "He's been a very well-rounded superintendent and park police chief.”
Field, who completed his 37th year with the district in July, will retire on Sept. 21. He has been superintendent of the SHOE Division since December 2006, and was previously a captain since July 1993. He has served as patrol commander, investigations commander, and operations commander. He started with JCPRD in July 1981 and has previously served as a Ranger I & II, Community Education Coordinator, and Sergeant. Field holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, and both doctorate and master’s degrees in public administration from the University of Missouri - Kansas City.
His love for nature, the outdoors, and reading led Field to decide while he was still in grade school that he wanted to be a park ranger.
"I certainly came here (to JCPRD) because of the opportunity to do law enforcement and interpretive programming," Field said, citing officers' dual role in law enforcement and presenting the district's outdoor education programming.
He cites his creation of the Heritage History Lab program in 1982 as his greatest accomplishment with the district. This interpretive program is a field trip for area fourth and fifth graders, which gives participants a snapshot of early Kansas history through living history presentations of a French fur trapper, an Osage warrior, and a newly-arrived pioneer.
"Since I had a degree in anthropology, I had the idea of creating three characters that represented different peoples in Kansas in the 1700s to the 1860s," Field said.
Field estimates that since the program started in 1982, he has portrayed the French fur trader character, Jacque, about 4,200 times over the last 36 years for HHL presentations alone. This does not include conferences and other occasions where he's portrayed the character outside the program setting.
He created and portrayed a number of other interpretive characters along the way as well. These included the Big Bad Wolf in Whimsical Woods, the Old Man from Ecology Encounters, the Lost Voyager from Haunted Kansas, and the Fairy King in Enchanted Fairytale Forest, among many others.