BY MELANIE WADE –
Mike Farringer has been promoted to the superintendent position at Queen Wilhelmina State Park. Farringer has served in several capacities during his 18-year career at the Arkansas State Parks service, from park ranger to assistant superintendent and Park Superintendent at Cane Creek and for the last five years, Park Superintendent at Cossatot River State Park.
“Mike has a good history of exceptional performance in our state park system,” said Arkansas State Parks Director Grady Spann. “His proven performance, proven leadership; he has a very high quality of hospitality about him personally and I just think he’ll serve QWSP and that whole area very well. His family is from that area so he has a vested interest in that part of the state. He will be a great fit for QWSP and the Mena area in general.”
Farringer, who married into a local family, is a self-proclaimed “military brat” but is proud to call Polk County his home. “I grew up a military brat. My father was in the Air Force for over 30+ years so we travelled around quite a bit spending several years overseas in Europe. My extended family is all from Pennsylvania, which is where I also went to college at Slippery Rock University. I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Parks, Recreation and Resource Management.”
Farringer and his wife Alicia have been married for 15 years and have three children, Mallory age 12, Grayson age 9, and Joshua age 6. “We met when I was a ranger at Cossatot River State Park in Wickes, which is where she grew up. Her mom and stepdad moved from Wickes to Mena in 2005 and are retired school teachers from Mena, so we have family just right down the road from us.”
I have spent a great deal of my service with Arkansas State Parks at the Cossatot, so as you can guess, that place means a lot to me. I was hired by my good friend and mentor Stan Speight, back in 1999, who taught me what it was to be a park professional and conservationist. Over the years, I had a chance to work with some great people both in Arkansas State Parks and outside the department in the local communities and across the state. They have helped me along the way in my career and I am grateful for all the help and knowledge they have given me throughout my time with Arkansas State Parks.”
And although he will miss the Cossatot, he and his family are looking forward to the ‘royal’ life atop Arkansas’ second highest peak. “Queen Wilhelmina State Park is an awesome place, as the people from Mena and Polk County can attest to. While Cossatot River State Park’s mission was built around environmental education, resource/river based recreation, Queen Wilhelmina is built around this great lodge, the Castle in the Clouds, built on top of Rich Mountain. I look forward to working in this great setting and developing relationships with the great group of professionals at the park, as well as working with the surrounding communities. As with all of our parks, Queen Wilhelmina is like a big family and they have welcomed me and my family.”
Queen Wilhelmina State Park sits atop the local 2,681-foot Rich Mountain. Of the 52 Arkansas state parks, Queen Wilhelmina is one of only eight of the state’s parks with a resort or hotel, a stark contrast from Farringer’s previous position.
Following extensive renovations in recent years, today’s Queen Wilhelmina Lodge offers 40 guest rooms, Southern fare at the Queen’s Restaurant, and a treasure-filled gift shop. Campsites and hiking trails are also available.
For more information about Queen Wilhelmina and the other 51 state parks go to www.arkansasstateparks.com.