August 10, 2015, was Jake Shapley’s first day at Tippecanoe River State Park as the new assistant property manager. His major duties for now will be managing the property for the public, including the Poker Paddle on September 13, 2015, and the popular Halloween Trick-or-Treat on October 31, 2015. Educational programs are also in the works.
Jake Shapley is an Indiana native born in Valparaiso who spent the most recent sixteen years of his life growing up in Uniondale, Indiana, a small town in Wells County, and attending Norwell High School.
From there, Jake attended Taylor University in Upland, Indiana.
“I went there mainly for their Environment Science program, and because they had football,” says Jake with a smile. “I played football there, and that was a big draw for me.”
Jake holds a Bachelor of Science from Taylor University in Environmental Science with a focus in Earth Science. When he was at Taylor, he became interested in GIS (Geographic Information System). One of the uses for GIS is computer mapping that combines different layers of information into one map. This gives a better overview of the conservation efforts needed in particular areas, a tool Jake hopes to use at Tippecanoe River State Park.
From Taylor, Jake moved to Virginia where he spent a brief time doing insurance restoration, utilizing his construction background. However, he felt this was not the best use of his education. He moved back to Indiana and entered a Masters program at Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College. He earned a Master of Arts in Environmental Education in 11 months, graduating this past May. His thesis was on land management and the relationships between land management and their neighbors.
“This has been a dream of mine for a long time,” Jake says about his new job. “I fell in love with the state park system as a child. That dream has fostered since I was five or six when I went camping with my parents. So I would like to see that continue to grow in children.”
Before coming to Tippecanoe River State Park, Jake worked at Ouabache State Park, (pronounced Wabash) in Bluffton, Indiana, as an intermittent Security Officer. For now, his focus will be getting familiar with the property, working with the maintenance crews, mowing, and fixing buildings.
“I will be doing everything from administrative work to routine maintenance on a pit toilet,” Jake says.
Since October 1, 2015, Tippecanoe River State Park had been without an official assistant manager when the former assistant accepted a transfer to Patoka Lake.
“There has been a great deal of turnover because of retirement,” says Carol Grostefon, Tippecanoe River State Park Office Manager. “Most of the people who work for the department make a lifetime career out of it.”
Property managers can request a lateral transfer to another property, as well as assistant managers, both require the approval the division director. The retirements caused many chain reactions within the parks, and due to a hiring freeze with state budgets, they are finally filling the vacancies.