Local Lifestyle, News

West Virginia State Parks presents Lifetime Achievement Award for Volunteerism & Leadership to Jim Michael

Stumped about how to properly recognize the contributions of Jim Michael to Cacapon State Park and the entire West Virginia State Parks system, state park officials invented a new honorarium and presented it to Michael on April 13.

Michael received the first-ever West Virginia State Parks Lifetime Achievement Award in Leadership and Volunteerism.

Head of parks Brad Reed joined many individuals, the Cacapon State Park Foundation and park officials at Cacapon State Park to honor Michael’s long service as volunteer and leader.

“For Jim, we couldn’t think of an existing award that would measure up to Jims’s commitment to the park system and his personal legacy.  So, we created one,” Reed told the crowd.

Brad Reed, West Virginia Chief of Parks, speaks about the contributions of Jim Michael, right. Jackie Michael sits to the far right.
photos by Todd Buzzerd

Michael became president of the Cacapon State Park Foundation in 1996 and led the organization as it added features to the park that the public could enjoy in addition to the natural beauty of the land. That included the playground, gazebo and picnic shelters, accessible trail and overlook platform, plus the entire Nature Center with its educational features and facility.

“Renovations to the old inn, tennis and basketball courts, purchase of various equipment for the park, and our continued trail clean up days, annual homecoming, and dinners. In my 10 years at Cacapon, I often had to give park tours to visiting dignitaries with an interest in the park.  It was always quite striking to me that when I did so, every exciting new facility or amenity that I was showcasing, had been built by the foundation,” Reed said.

Because of the success of Cacapon’s park foundation, a statewide park foundation was formed, and Michael served as its president as well.

As Foundation president and a lifetime champion of Cacapon State Park and the state park system, Michael advocated for good public policy to benefit the parks, supported a new lodge project and spoke up on matters affecting the public’s enjoyment of state parks.

Jackie Michael, Jim’s wife, was also recognized for her support of her husband’s time and effort toward Cacapon and the state parks.

Reed noted that state investments in state parks has jumped significantly in recent years, meaning the park system could move beyond deferred maintenance to a more up-to-date care of facilities and improvements. He said the efforts of people like Jim Michael helped make that a reality.

“Your leadership has been an inspiration to me and countless others.  Thank you for your lifetime of service to Cacapon and to all our West Virginia State Parks,” said Reed.

Jim Michael speaks to a gathering of people honoring his service to Cacapon and all state parks.