Scott Patton, of Independence, has been named the new Director of the City of Independence Park, Zoo and Cemetery Departments. Patton will assume the role July 26.
For the past two years, Patton has worked as park ranger for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT), stationed primarily at Elk City State Park, where he was responsible for safety and law enforcement, customer service, educational programming and park operations. His previous experience includes horticulture maintenance for the City of Manhattan Parks and Recreation Department; grounds work at Kansas State University (KSU); and seasonal roles with KDWPT and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Tuttle Creek Lake in Manhattan.
Patton earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Park Management and Conservation from KSU and earned Kansas Law Enforcement Officer certification through the University of Kansas training center.
“Because I am an outdoor sportsman and have a degree in park management and conservation, I have a strong desire to preserve what nature has to offer, and this includes our wildlife,” Patton said. “This position offers a unique opportunity to work with wildlife, teach conservation to our youth and make a difference in my community. I believe that the park and zoo are an asset to this community that I hope to play a part in maintaining.”
The park, zoo and cemetery director’s position includes administration of all operations of Riverside Park, Ralph Mitchell Zoo and Mount Hope Cemetery, including staffing; budgeting; maintenance of all facilities; managing zoo animal welfare; coordinating special events; and interfacing with the community.
City Manager Kelly Passauer said Patton’s credentials make him a good fit for the director’s role. “We are pleased to welcome Scott to the City team and look forward to further elevating the quality of park, zoo and cemetery services under his leadership,” Passauer said.
She noted that, in addition to managing daily functions, a key role for the director is positioning the zoo for future accreditation by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, a prestigious distinction with rigorous standards for zoo operations.
Patton and his wife, Kayla, moved to Independence in 2019 and, Patton said, they were attracted by the “beautiful land and outdoor recreational opportunities the area provides” and also “very impressed by the city park.” They are expecting their first child in August.