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Bedford Resident Dan Bortner To Lead Celebration Of 100th Birthday Celebration
Updated January 28, 2016 7:52 AM
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Photo: Frank Oliver/Indiana Department of Natural Resources

(UNDATED) - As our state parks system turns 100 this year, director Dan Bortner is happy to lead the chorus celebrating Indiana's natural wonders.

"Indiana's State Park system was a gift to Hoosiers for the Indiana Centennial in 1916," he said. "The state is celebrating its 200th anniversary, as we celebrate our first 100 years."

Indianapolis Star correspondent Amy Lynch, reports, Bortner, director of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources' Division of State Parks and Reservoirs, joined the DNR in 2005 to help find workable solutions to fiscal challenges the department was facing at that time.

"Growing up in Southern Indiana, my father was a freelance photographer and did a lot of work for Outdoor Indiana, the DNR magazine," he told Lynch. "During my formative years, my brother, sister and I spent countless hours exploring Indiana State Parks. The memories I have of these special places, and the desire to insure their continued success and relevance, are what brought me here."

In his youth, Bortner had inklings of one day joining the legal profession. But as he pursued that goal, he realized a passion for public service instead.

"When I was young, I saw law as a means to that end," he said. "As I furthered my education and life experiences, I found I could serve from where I was at that time."

As director of Indiana's 32 state park properties, Bortner helps preserve and protect Indiana's natural and cultural resources while making provision for recreational opportunities.

"Doing what I do is more a lifestyle than a job," he said. "We operate a state park system that sees upwards of 15 million visitors every year, and we are open 24/7 all year long."

The Indiana State Parks Centennial Celebration entails special events taking place throughout the year, including the reopening of the recently renovated Falls of the Ohio State Park.

Question: What does the word "leader" mean to you?

A: "I think sometimes people confuse leadership with authority. I've encountered many instances where people who were in a position of authority didn't know how to lead. Never confuse leadership with position. A leader is one who inspires others to be the best they can be. It really is that simple."

Q: Do you have a personal business philosophy you try to follow?

A: "Run the organization on sound business principles. When I first came into this position, there was a fair amount of pushback in this philosophy. Many said we couldn't operate on business principles because we don't make a product, but nothing could be further from the truth. We are in the memory-making business, and we've gotten very good at it!"

Q: What's the best part of your job?

A: "I'm surrounded by amazing people. The passion they bring to their jobs is truly unlike anything I've seen in my professional career. The hours are long and the jobs are demanding, but each one of them cares so much about these special places we've been asked to take care of."

Q: What's the most challenging part of your job?

A: "Each division within the DNR has a different mission. In state parks, our mission is to provide recreational opportunities while maintaining a balance with the conservation component. Sometimes the two are at odds with each other, and it is my job to find the right balance."

Q: What are you most proud of accomplishing so far?

A: "Over the past 10 years, we've faced many challenges. I've watched other state parks systems close properties and lose sight of their missions. Indiana has proven that if we utilize sound business practices in our approach, take care of our dedicated team of public servants and listen to those we serve, we can weather any storm. I firmly believe we have the finest system of state parks in the nation, and Hoosiers deserve nothing less."

More about Dan Bortner

Job title: Director, Indiana State Parks.

Education: Bachelor's degree in public affairs from Indiana University's School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

Prior employment: Human resources director for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

Family: Spouse, April Bortner; two daughters, one son, one granddaughter.

Favorite pastimes: "Hiking, reading and spoiling my granddaughter."

Favorite musical artists: Bob Seger, The Eagles, John Mellencamp.

Favorite quote: "Perfection is impossible. Striving for perfection is not." -- John Wooden

Indianapolis Star: http://www.indystar.com/story/news/2016/01/28/5-questions-dan-bortner-steward-indianas-state-parks/79372032/?from=global&sessionKey&autologin



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