Toops Named Battle of Athens Administrator
By Kevin Fox
On October 1st, Jerry Toops became the new Site Administrator for the Battle of Athens State Historic Site as well as the Illiniwek Village near St. Francisville. Toops replaces Roger Boyd who served in that capacity for around twenty years. Toops as been with the Department of Natural Resources for 12 years and began his service with that department at the Battle of Athens State Historic Site as a seasonal employee and moved up to Tourist Assistant.
Toops commented on returning to the Park, “I had always wanted to return back home. During 12 years with the Department of Natural Resources, I had worked in every other area of the state with the exception of the Northwest corner. I grew up in Wayland and when I was 12 we moved to St. Francisville. I am also a 1981 graduate of Clark County R-1. So this really is home. When it was learned that Roger (Boyd) was going to retire, the department approached me about the position. They knew that I lived in close proximity of Athens, and I had the experience and I was still working for them although I had taken a leave of absence for a couple years. I was assisting the department in trail maintenance in all the parks in the north. I was offered the position of Site Administrator as well as working in trail maintenance in the entire state. I enjoyed working in all parts of the state and you like to think that through your job at the parks it is a benefit to the people who enjoy visiting the park, and that’s certainly something you want to do for the people who live in your home county. My family has lived in Clark County since the 1850’s and some actually fought at the Battle of Athens, so I feel like it’s a way of paying back the debt of gratitude that I owe them.
When asked what special challenges exist at the Historic Sites in Clark County Toops responded, “I’ve worked at many facilities around the state and each have challenges that might be unique to them. My first two weeks have been spent looking at things and where I can make improvements and building management and looking at things, which might be in need of repair.
After graduating from Clark County R-1, Jerry went to college at Southeastern Community College and then went on to Western Illinois University where he earned a degree in Park Management. Jerry is married and he and his wife Lisa have three children. The couple also has ties to the Battle of Athens as Jerry bought a basket from Lisa during a basket auction at the park during a re-enactment that Lisa was participating in. Jerry enjoys canoeing and kayaking and hunting and fishing, when there is time.