Celebrating Metroparks Toledo’s longest-serving employee
You might have seen his photos on the Metroparks Toledo Facebook page. Art Weber has spent half a century serving the Toledo area, and says he has no plans to slow down.
TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - He started with Metroparks Toledo before Wildwood was even a park. Now, the organization is celebrating Art Weber’s 50 years of service.
Scott Carpenter, a spokesperson with Metroparks Toledo says of Art Weber, “We keep making him sound old when we say that, but he did start right out of college.”
Weber, who is now a nature photographer, started with Metroparks Toledo in the early-1970s. Now, he’s deemed a legend.
Weber adds, “That just means I’ve been here a long time.”
Carpenter tells 13abc, “A lot of people know Art from his nature photography, but fewer people probably know that for the first 30 of those years, Art played important roles both behind the scenes, as well as being in front of the camera, as the spokesperson and the face of the Metroparks.”
Weber recalls, “I started as a Public Information Assistant, then I was a Public Information Officer, then Public Information Manager.”
He’s seen the parks system grow from 8 parks to 19 of them, even helping to secure the most popular spot: wildwood. Now, he spends his days capturing what he says makes our parks so special: a diversity in species and habitats.
Weber explains, “Every day, I wake up and think about just how special all of this is. Truly. That’s not just a line. What we have here is just extraordinary. What I hope to do every time I shoot a photograph is to make people look at it and say, ‘that was shot here?’”
At the Metroparks Toledo board meeting last week, the board said ‘thank you’ to Art with a proclamation for his dedication and love for the parks.
“I was afraid that at the end of all of this, they were going to say, ‘thanks for your service, now don’t let the door hit you in the you-know-what on the way out’,” jokes Weber, “But it’s been the opposite, they’ve been wonderful.”
He says it’s the family-like atmosphere that’s kept him with the parks all these years: “There’s always that little part of you that thinks, ‘maybe I could go over here and do a little bit better.’ But there’s something to be said that what’s here is really important, and the people that you work with are a joy to work with.”
And he plans to keep capturing the quiet moments of the Metroparks, something Carpenter says he has a gift for. “He’s an overnight success, 50 years in the making. Now reaching a whole new generation of people and telling the Metroparks story the best way that we can, through photos.” And his photos are organic. “Many of them that go out on social media were taken that day,” Carpenter says. “So it’s in the moment, here’s what’s happening that you can see and enjoy in the parks today, and that’s all thanks to Art’s efforts before the sun rises every day.”
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