On Nov. 14 Ranger Raymond Ray, from the Vicksburg National Military Park, made history by winning the Historic Naval Ships Association Educators Award for his dedication and enthusiasm in interpreting the USS Cairo and the role of navies in the campaign for Vicksburg.
This award pays tribute to a fleet member who goes above and beyond to further the education program of their organization.
Leading up to earning the award, Ray shadowed other members of the parks interpretive team, conducted steady research of the topic and tested different strategies with visitors on how to best discuss the information.
With a 29-year career with the National Park Service, he says that change is the hardest thing to adjust to in his field.
“Keeping our stories relevant as interpreter trends change,[interpreters] had to adapt to social media to make our stories more relevant to a newer generation and different demographics,” Ray said.
A native of Pensacola, Fla., Ray said that moving to Vicksburg proved to be a drastic change for him but after becoming engulfed in the history of the River City, he soon adjusted to life here.
“The research is compelling and interesting to me, which helped to do the job more effectively,” he said. “The story behind the Vicksburg Campaign and the U.S. naval contribution during the Civil War is pretty compelling stuff.”
Vicksburg Daily News commends Ranger Ray for the hard work he’s done with the National Park Service and congratulates him for his accomplishments.
“I was surprised and honored,” he said about the award. “It was a nice validation for the efforts of what we do here at the National Park Service to preserve resources, significance and history on a national level.”
For more information about the Vicksburg National Military Park and the USS Cairo exhibit, call 601-636-0583 or visit the park website.