New director has love for nature
Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor, Editor, [email protected]
Working for park systems is nothing new for Alex Bortner, who was recently hired as the director of historical assets for the Harrison County Parks Dept. She’s worked in several states, including Alabama, California and South Dakota, at state parks.
During her childhood, her family, which includes her parents, Dan and April Bortner, and two siblings, spent a lot of time at parks. (Her father served as director of Indiana’s state parks from 2005 to 2020 when he became director of the Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources.)
“We were a big parks family growing up,” said the 31-year-old.
So when the historical assets position became available here earlier this year because of Barb Ehinger’s decision to retire, Bortner applied.
“It was time to come home” to Indiana, Bortner said.
Bortner recalled visiting Corydon and learning about its history as the first state capital, as many fourth-grade schoolchildren do.
A 2008 graduate of Bedford North Lawrence, Bortner earned a degree in natural resource management from Ball State University in 2012. She initially wanted to teach but the love of the outdoors won out after taking a naturalist training program.
Bortner moved here from St. Louis.
“The Ohio River Valley is a great place to live,” she said.
With the director of historical assets position comes the overseeing of the Harrison County Discovery Center and the Battle of Corydon Memorial Park.
One of Bortner’s goals is to get schools throughout the state to return to visiting the First State Capital. The COVID-19 pandemic has played a major role in the lack of visits but some schools had already canceled such field trips due to funding cuts.
She plans to partner with the Corydon Capitol State Historic Site and others to attract visitors.
“I want to make us that hub” for when people come to visit, Bortner said.
As COVID restrictions ease, Bortner also wants to plan activities and events, such as game days. She said she hopes to partner with the Harrison County Public Library as well.
“I’ve inherited a great start,” Bortner said, referring to what Ehinger did during her time as the first director of historical assets. Ehinger was hired in January 2017, less than three months after the Discovery Center opened its doors.
On the radar currently is filling a couple of part-time positions. Bortner said applicants must be at least 18, have a high school diploma or GED and like to work with the community. Those interested in applying can stop in the Discovery Center or call 812-734-0030. Hours are Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 4:30 p.m.