North Carolina Forest Service Granville-Vance Area Ranger Robert Montague is a recent recipient of the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Customer Service – one of the state’s highest honors. The service aspect of his job is exactly what drives Montague.
“The service part is what is important to me,” Montague said.
“I enjoy what I do every day, I enjoy coming to work, I enjoy the challenge of who’s going to call in today, who’s going to come to our office today that needs our help, and being able to fill the need that they have.”
Montague’s duties as an area ranger consist of protecting state forests by controlling and investigating wildfires, providing forest management services that help landowners manage their woodlands, and offering educational programs on wildfire prevention and why trees and forests are important throughout the community. He also supervises a team of four. But perhaps his biggest impact is not what his job description entails, but what he means to the community he serves and the significant and lasting impression that he’s made.
“Rob is a community asset, not just a local forest ranger,” said David Cottrell, Chief of Oxford Fire Department. “If he hears something on the radio that he feels he should be involved in — a tree is down, or someone’s been injured by a timber or cutting accident — he’ll call to see if he’s needed on the scene.”
There were 189 emergency response situations involving forest fires in Montague’s area alone during the 2020-2021 fiscal year, many of which ignited outside of traditional working hours. Montague personally responded to over half. Wildfires are only one of the many different types of calls county rangers may receive.
“When that need is there, especially in terms of emergency response, those aren’t scheduled. So, if we can do something to help the people, the cooperators, that’s what we’re here to do,” Montague said.
“He is all about serving his community. A lot of times landowners will call him with questions and he listens to them. He not only offers up the services that the North Carolina Forest Service can provide, but also what he can do to help them,” said supervisor and District Forester Jennifer Roach.
“He offers empathy to them and they feel like they’re talking to more of a friend instead of just a government agency.”Jennifer Roach
For his tireless commitment to the community he serves, Montague deservingly was a recipient of the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Customer Service. He continues to embody and symbolize what it truly means to be a public servant each day that he puts on the NCFS badge.
Montague has been an NCFS employee for 18 years, all of which has been in service to Granville County with the addition of Vance County two years ago. Montague was also named North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services employee of the year for 2021.
Montague’s story can be viewed on Youtube by following this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyNRLeXhpAg