BY MELANIE BUCK –
Queen Wilhelmina State Park has a new Assistant Superintendant who said one of the best parts about the park is the support from the locals. Brent Reed brings with him years of background experience in hospitality.
Reed graduated high school in Gillett, Ark. where he said he grew up with a family that truly enjoyed Arkansas State Parks. “I’ve always loved state parks. I would go with my parents and grandparents growing up.” Gillett is the oldest settlement in Arkansas and is home to Arkansas Post. The Arkansas Post was the first European settlement in the lower Mississippi River Valley and present-day Arkansas when Henri de Tonti established it in 1686 as a French trading post on the banks of the lower Arkansas River, so Reed also grew up around the state’s most historical property.
“I worked in the hotel business since graduating in 2003 from Lyon College in Batesville, Ark. I thought I would be a chemistry major but changed courses.” Reed was able to fulfill a dream internship when he was accepted to intern at Disney in Orlando, Florida. While there, he took several hospitality classes before coming back to Arkansas to graduate in 2003. The next year, Reed would travel back to Orlando to work in a 5,000 room Disney hotel. He would remain there for the next 5 ½ years.
When he returned to Arkansas, he wanted to stay in the hospitality business and an opening came up at the Ozark Folk Center. As Facility Manager, he gained valuable experience in the State Parks system. After a couple of years, he transferred to Mount Magazine State Park where he served as Assistant Lodge and Restaurant Manager.
He came to Queen Wilhelmina as an advancement opportunity in July 2016. “It’s interesting being here. I really enjoy being up so high and watching the ever-changing sky,” said Reed. “I love sitting in the evenings and watching storms come in. We see great lightening shows up here. It’s interesting and exciting, the constant change.”
He also said he enjoys working with state parks and still being able to use his background in hospitality. “I want to continue to strengthen the guests’ experience at Queen Wilhelmina. “I’ve learned tips over the years that can help make the experience even better here.”
What he finds most unique about Queen Wilhelmina is how loyal the locals are. “I like how many more locals come to the park versus what I’m use to at other parks. There is a lot of history here that locals are connected to. It’s an older park and there are people bringing their kids, that use to come here as kids themselves,” said Reed. “We recently showed a guest log to a man and his daughter where his parents had been here many years ago.” Reed also loves the geology of the mountain. Being part of the Ouachita Mountain Range, it stands in an east to west fashion, and is also home to it’s own unique species of plants and animals.
Reed invites everyone to come and enjoy the park as much as he does. “If there is anything you would like to see, just let us know. We are open to suggestions.”
To learn more about Queen Wilhelmina State Park, visit their website, http://www.queenwilhelmina.com/, or give them a call at 479-394-2863.