Cheri Miller first started volunteering with OC Parks in 1992, initially staffing the O’Neill Regional Park Nature Center, and later serving as a Park Ranger Reserve. As a reserve, she worked with park rangers and staff to develop and coordinate special events, public programs and trail maintenance. In addition, she helped create a park wildflower informational booklet. Over the past few years, Cheri has transitioned from the Park Ranger Reserve program to the Adopt-A-Park volunteer program and has fully embraced her role as a park naturalist with O’Neill Regional Park. She continues to volunteer at the park’s nature center, sharing natural history information with the public and encouraging visitors to follow the facility’s rules and regulations so that natural and cultural resources are protected.
Over the years, Cheri has worked side-by-side with park rangers, helping to restore trails that were severely damaged by floods and assessing the various levels of flood damage experienced throughout park facilities. During one particularly severe flood season, Cheri and other volunteers discovered a marine mammal fossil in the Arroyo Trabuco wilderness area of O’Neill Regional Park. As a result of the volunteers’ discovery, additional fossils were uncovered, catalogued and placed in Orange County’s Natural and Cultural Storage Facility.
Cheri is committed to making a difference through her volunteer involvement. While pregnant with her daughter, Sara, she continued to conduct interpretive nature hikes for the public. Sara was raised participating in O’Neill Regional Park’s interpretive programs and special events; now as an elementary-school student, it’s not uncommon to see her hiking beside her mom and eagerly sharing information about the park’s plants, animals and habitat with other hikers. In addition, Cheri and Sara actively recruit new volunteers and participate in special events such as the Coastal and Inner Cleanup and Geo Cache Day. Cheri’s volunteer involvement is definitely educating future generations—starting with her own daughter—about the importance of protecting and preserving our natural resources.
Cheri goes above and beyond her normal park naturalist role by notifying park staff of emergency situations, maintenance issues and concerns brought to her attention by park visitors. In July 2007, Park Ranger Jacky Velasquez received a phone call from Cheri, regarding three off-road motorcyclists riding through Eagle Trail and Mesa day use area. As a result of Cheri’s quick action, the ranger was able to immediately contact the off-roaders and have them exit the area. Cheri’s handling of this situation enhanced the ranger’s efforts in protecting the public and preventing damage to park resources.
Cheri brings knowledge, experience and a positive attitude to her volunteer endeavors. Through her exceptional volunteer service, she embodies the importance of practicing good stewardship, especially in respect to our local parks, beaches, historical sites and wilderness areas. The OC Parks Adopt-A-Park program is honored to have this very talented and dedicated individual as part of the O’Neill Regional Park team.