Schreier is distinguished alumna

Ron Burtz
Recently retired Mount Rushmore National Memorial superintendent and Custer resident Cheryl Schreier was honored by her alma mater as a distinguished alumna for 2019. In October, Schreier traveled to the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point to receive the award during the school’s 125th anniversary celebration held during homecoming week.
“I was very honored and humbled by the recognition,” said Schreier, adding that it was a special honor to be nominated by her long-time friend, National Park Service (NPS) colleague and fellow Custer resident Juli Ames-Curtis. The two met during their college years and Schreier says it is a pleasure to have one of her long-time dearest friends living so close.  
Schreier graduated in 1979 from the university’s college of natural resources and went on to a 40-year career in the National Park Service. She both began and ended her career in the Black Hills, starting as a park guide (as rangers were called then) in June 1979 at Jewel Cave National Monument for two seasons and finishing as the first woman superintendent of Mount Rushmore at the end of May. 
In the midst of what Schreier calls her “full-circle career” with the NPS, she also worked at Independence National Historic Park in Philadelphia, Penn., Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site in North Dakota, Herbert Hoover National Historic Site in Iowa and also at Yellowstone National Park. 
In a YouTube video made by the university for showing at the awards program, Michael Gross, one of Schreier’s former professors, commented that Schreier was at Yellowstone during the historic and devastating fires of 1988, calling it “one of the most horrific times in Yellowstone’s history.” He noted that Schreier had the difficult job of communicating to the public during that time. 
In the video, Schreier was asked why she wanted to be a park superintendent. 
“I always thought of it as the conductor of an orchestra,” Schreier responded. “If you hire the right people, you could really make beautiful music. You don’t have to be the expert. You just have to make sure that you’re hiring all the right people for those jobs to make it happen.”
Schreier said with three million visitors a year and an average of about 25,000 people a day, being superintendent of Mount Rushmore was like managing a small city. 
“The national parks belong to the people,” said Schreier in the video, adding that she sees herself as a public servant with a mission to help protect those resources. “Being in public service and to help preserve and protect is the greatest mission,” she said. 
When asked what she has been doing since her retirement, Schreier responded, “I’m having way too much fun.” 
She said she and her husband, Bill, who also retired from an NPS career 14 years ago, are traveling more and spending time with family and close friends. 
“I’m enjoying life right now,” said Schreier.

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