Tuesday, February 9, 2010

National Park Service Careers

Although this blog is focused on the life and career of National Park Rangers, there are many other career opportunities with the National Park Service. Park Rangers make up a rather small percentage of the total work force that it takes to manage and preserve our parks. It takes many professions, skills, and backgrounds to keep a National Park functioning. National Park personnel are commonly divided into functional divisions where you will find some of the jobs simplistically described here.

Natural Resource Managers – Employees are needed with backgrounds in sciences such as biology, botany, fisheries, wildlife, and other areas related to our environment and are found in Resource Management positions throughout the National Park Service. They are responsible for such varied activities as inventorying and monitoring resources, developing management plans for endangered and threatened species, educating park managers and the public of threats to resources, and coordinating research in parks by academic institutions.
Cultural Resource Managers – These employees are responsible for maintaining the accurate cultural integrity of park resources whether it is a historic structure, museum collection, or historic landscape. Positions such as Landscape Architects, Curators, Historic Structures Specialists, writers, and historians can be found working in the National Park Service.
Maintenance and Engineering – The infrastructure and visitor facilities need to be designed, constructed and maintained. Employees who work in this field run from the people who mow grass to those who engineer and design roads and facilities. Without these people visitors would not have any roads to drive, trails to hike, or visitor centers to stop at to learn about a park’s resources.
Park and Community Planners- Planning the development, protection, and design of National Parks are done by employees who are historic and landscape architects, exhibit designers, artists, writers, researchers, and trained and educated park and community planners. Some of the larger parks have staff members that work in these functions. The National Park Service also has centers for planning and design in Denver, Colorado and Harpers Ferry, West Virginia where employees are assigned to projects in parks throughout the system.
Information Technology – The National Park Service like any government agency or organization today depends on computer technology for communications both internally and externally to the public. Individuals with backgrounds in computers, geographic information systems, radio systems, and telecommunications are necessary to keep the lines of communication open and up to date.
Administration – There are also employees who work in such fields as human resources, procurement, contracting, budget, business management, and clerical fields that provide the support needed to keep our parks functioning.

This is just a brief example of the diversity of jobs available and needed to keep our National Parks preserved and open to the public. Although I like to think that park rangers are the most important, they could not function without the support and team work of many other behind the scenes employees dedicated to the same mission established by the Organic Act of 1916.

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