COOLIDGE — If there’s one thing that struck Ben Littlefield about Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, it would be the wealth of history attached to the site.
“I”m really proud to be here,” he said. “There’s a long history not only (with) this historic site, but also with park service management of it.”
Littlefield is the new superintendent of the national monument in Coolidge. Prior to taking on the position of the head of the park, Littlefield served as the safety manager at Redwood National and State Parks in California.
A graduate of Humboldt State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in wildlife management, Littlefield said that his interest in working with the National Park Service was peaked while he was a student in college.
Although he had an undeclared major for a couple of years, that all changed when he took an Introduction to Wildlife Management course.
Littlefield said he quickly became captivated by the stories he heard while taking the course and began getting in touch with Redwood National and State Parks seeking volunteer opportunities. He was approved and, after two days as a volunteer, he was offered a position through the student employment program with the national park — officially launching his career with the National Park Service.
He started as a seasonal wildlife technician at Redwood National, and after graduating from college eventually landed a job at Channel Islands National Park. There he worked on a program designed to rehabilitate the endangered island fox where he helped release foxes that had been in captivity back into the wild.
Upon returning to Northern California, Littlefield was offered an opportunity to become a law enforcement ranger. He worked law enforcement within the Park Service for approximately five years. During that time, he eventually became an EMS coordinator, firearms instructor and Taser instructor.
He also trained in short haul, a tactic often employed in rescues, and received training as an EMT and in search and rescue. In addition, Littlefield worked as part of a marijuana task force.
“Being a ranger in the Park Service is a really special and exciting job,” he said. “It was a lot of fun.”
He then went on to eventually become the safety manager for Redwood National. As safety manager, he was primarily responsible for addressing environmental hazards National Parks Service employees and volunteers could be exposed to.
“(The) major focus for me was making sure that the field level staff had the training and equipment they needed to do the job safely,” Littlefield said.
Late last year, accepting the position of superintendent of Casa Grande Ruins, Littlefield said the decision was based on a desire to enjoy warmer weather and advance in his career.
“I’m really enjoying myself here already,” he said. “I think that this is a really healthy and cool opportunity for me and my family. I’m excited to be here.”
As superintendent, Littlefield said that currently his biggest priority is to engage with community partners, including tribal partners, to continue increasing the amount of visitors to the park and tourism coming into the Pinal County region.