If there is one word that best describes Martha “Marcy” Martinez, it’s resilient.
The superintendent of Stephen F. Austin State Park has endured two major floods and the replacement of a bridge to the park since her arrival in 2015. Despite all that, the small park on the banks of the Brazos River averages a steady stream of about 47,000 visitors a year.
Having to build, re-build, repair and replace facilities at the park would be a daunting task for any leader, but Martinez and her dedicated staff and volunteers have kept the 663-acre park open and beautifully maintained for outdoor adventurists and enthusiasts.
Martinez is from the Rio Grande Valley. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from the University of Texas-Pan American. She started out teaching eighth grade science for four years before joining the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 2002. There, she helped establish Estero Llano Grande State Park and served as its first superintendent. After nearly 12 years she accepted the superintendent’s position at Stephen F. Austin State Park.
“I’m responsible for all park operations,” she said.
Since her arrival, Mother Nature has been testing her resolve.
“In the past five years we’ve had several weather-related crisis management situations. The park went under water twice in ’16 and ’17,” she said.
Despite all of that, she is still striving to make the park better. Current plans include the demolition of two bathrooms to replace them with shower houses. The dining room and lodge are also being remodeled.
Martinez, 48, a single mother of two teenage girls, oversees a staff of 10 employees. She said running the park is more complicated than it appears.
“It’s like running a small town,” she said, noting that the park has its own infrastructure, water system and wastewater treatment facility.
Despite the difficulties, Martinez loves her job and reports to work each day with a smile, grit, and resilient determination to help park visitors have a great time outdoors.