DAVIS, W.Va. - West Virginia State Parks Chief Kenneth K. Caplinger II was awarded the West Virginia Division of Tourism’s highest honor, The Oshel Craigo Lifetime Achievement Award, at the 2013 Governor's Conference on Tourism. The annual conference host was Canaan Valley State Park Oct. 28-30, 2013.
Frank Jezioro Director of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, made the presentation on behalf of the West Virginia Tourism Commission and Tourism Commissioner Betty Carver. Jezioro said, “To be a leader it takes vision, dedication and above all, understanding of the business and product; our product being tourism, travel and outdoor experience that spans generations. Ken's career and life in state parks has been a 35 year journey and West Virginia has a nationally recognized state park system and much of it is because of his leadership.
“He is steadfast is the park systems’ mission statement: to ‘promote conservation by preserving and protecting natural areas of unique or exceptional scenic, scientific, cultural, archaeological, or historical significance and to provide outdoor recreational opportunities for the citizens of this state and its visitors.’ This mission statement, embodied in state law, has been the guiding principal for operating the West Virginia State Park system since its inception in the late 1920s,” Jezioro said while presenting the award to Caplinger. “You’ll find no one more deserving of this recognition than Ken Caplinger, Chief of West Virginia's State Park system, our 2013 West Virginia Tourism’s Oshel Craigo Lifetime Achievement Award recipient."
The Oshel Craigo Lifetime Achievement Award is bestowed upon the best of the best in West Virginia’s tourism industry. Persons nominated for this award must have demonstrated continued and long term leadership, benevolence or contributions to the growth and success of the entire state’s tourism industry. This person is the epitome of the state’s success.
Caplinger started in the West Virginia state parks system as assistant superintendent at Watoga State Park in 1979. He later served as assistant superintendent and superintendent at Pipestem Resort State Park. He was promoted to deputy parks chief, then chief of operations. He served two stints as acting state parks chief -- from 2000 to 2001, and 2006 to 2008. Since 2008 he has served as state parks chief.
Sissie Summers, State Parks Programming Coordinator