Thursday, March 24, 2016

A question I received as to why I was interested in being a National Park Ranger.

Being in the outdoors has always been my passion whether it was playing as child or camping and backpacking when I got older.  This was combined with my family visiting National Parks and seeing park rangers with their flat hats being the gods of the wilderness and masters of historic information.  At a very early age when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, it was always a park ranger.
Sixteen years ago I completed a research project for a thesis on recruiting for National Park Seasonal positions.  One of my discoveries was that most employees working that summer had visited National Parks as a child therefore establishing that awe and inspiration at an early age. This confirmed my own experience.

As most people I had a lot of misconceptions of what it would be like to work as a park ranger.  I had visions of being in the woods all day, leading tours, working with wildlife, etc.  What I found was that there was so much more to it.  So much so, that I wrote a book about that very topic.   A lot more detail on this answer can be found in the book.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

College Student Questions

I just received some questions from a student at George Washington University about Park Rangering.  I thought I would share my answers over a few posts.  I hope you find them of some interest.

As I read on your website, you recently gave a presentation about theft from National Parks. In your opinion, what is the biggest threats facing our national parks today? Is it sticky-fingered visitors? Underfunding? Environmental threats? 

The most serious and overwhelming threat is that to our environment. What affects our world directly impacts the resources in our parks. Global warming, air quality, habitat reduction around out parks’ borders are very real and immediate and require universal and regional solutions.

Politically our National Parks face numerous threats.  Inadequate funding not only reduces the services visitors receive, but also results in continued infrastructure and resource degradation. 

There are also threats to the concept of protected public lands due to political and special interests. There continue to be proposals by individuals, groups, and politicians to turn federally protected lands back to state and local governments. This is often mislabeled as “giving them back to the people.” I would argue that this concept would remove or reduce access to a smaller group with special interests that will make money for small parties at a sacrifice for the rest of us. Examples would include local governments wanting control of federally protected lands so they can be leased or sold for energy exploration or ranching.  Even some lands managed by the National Park Service are drawing such attention.

On the ground level in parks resources are threatened by over use, neglect, and theft or conversion for personal gain. The theft of wildlife, plants, minerals, and historic resources is increasing. Lack of funding means that there are less Park Rangers in the field to protect these resources, monitor damage, and prevent crimes against us all as owners and custodians of our National Parks.