Providing public service is critical, says Verde District Ranger

Todd Willard recently became the Verde District Ranger on the Prescott National Forest.

Todd Willard recently became the Verde District Ranger on the Prescott National Forest.

CAMP VERDE - Todd Willard recently became the Verde District Ranger on the Prescott National Forest.

Before that, Willard worked on the Tonto National Forest as a wildlife and fisheries biologist.

"I always appreciated the outdoors and public land and wanted to help contribute to management of those lands and provide public service," he says.

 

Bugle: What brought you to the Verde Valley?

Willard: I came to the Verde Valley in early April, once I accepted the Verde District Ranger position.

Bugle: What is your favorite place in the Verde Valley?

Willard: To be honest, I am still exploring the area. The Verde River is of course an outstanding resource that crosses multiple land jurisdictions. I am impressed with the cooperation and coordination through the Verde Front effort.

Bugle: What are some of your hobbies?

Willard: Spending time with my family hiking, hunting, reloading and fishing. I enjoy working on vehicles (although it would be a stretch to say I was a shade tree mechanic) and working out.

Bugle: Do you have a family? Spouse? Kids?

Willard: Yes, wife Morgana and son Dustin.

Bugle: When you have a long weekend, what do you and your family like to do?

Willard: My son and I enjoy shooting rifles long range at paper targets in preparation for hunting and for hand load development. We work on Dustin's Chevy Colorado through regular maintenance and modifications. Morgana and I attend all of Dustin's school sporting events and have coached (soccer) in the past. We enjoy camping, hiking and exploring new areas.

Bugle: Do you have any pets?

Willard: We have a rat terrier, Rocky. I had larger dogs in the past and took a gamble with Rocky. He is a character, learns tricks quickly and has a vertical jump that is impressive for an 11-year-old dog.

Bugle: What music is in your car right now?

Willard: Some classic country and rock.

Bugle: What is your favorite movie or television show?

Willard: I really enjoy Fast and Loud, Car Chasers and the Outdoor Channel programing.

Bugle: What would you have for your last meal?

Willard: Steak, mashed potatoes, fried okra, corn fritters, rolls and salad.

Bugle: If you could have a conversation with three people, either living or dead, who would they be?

Willard: Elmer Keith, Abraham Lincoln and Aldo Leopold.

Bugle: What was your favorite sports team when you were growing up?

Willard: I grew up in southeastern New Mexico, small town called Jal, about 60 miles east of Carlsbad. The Dallas Cowboys were the nearest team to my small town, so it was a natural. Of course now I am a big fan of the Arizona Cardinals.

Bugle: What is your most embarrassing moment?

Willard: During high school, we had powder puff football that had football players dress up as girls and cheer on the football team that was made up entirely of girls. I was one of the cheerleaders, by popular vote. To do it justice, the three other fellas and I got wigs, make up and ... you get the idea. It was one thing to dress up and practice cheers, but quite another to cheer in front of the entire community. We got through it and I gained a huge appreciation for cheerleaders. To this day, folks from my home town bring that night up in conversation. It was a lot of fun.

Bugle: Is there anything else people do not know about you that you would like to share?

Willard: It is important to share that I view every employee in the forest service as a public servant. Of course resource management is a key part of what we do, but also providing service to the public is critical to our mission.

-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42 and Instagram @VerdeValleyNews

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