Posted by: rmorrisey | March 1, 2007

What do Park Rangers do?

Good question.  A good park ranger is a jack of all trades and can shift gears on the fly.

First of all, you have to understand that there are two types of park rangers:  law enforcement rangers and interpretive rangers.  The job descriptions and required qualifications are very different. 

Interpretive rangers are America’s professional storytellers.  They are talented communicators trained to educate and inform the public about the special resources that have been entrusted to the care of the National Park Service.  Interpretive rangers may work in visitor centers, give tours of historic sites, lead campfire programs and nature hikes, or make classroom visits.

Law enforcement rangers (also called protection rangers) are federally commissioned law enforcement officers with the authority to carry a weapon, make arrests for violations of federal laws and regulations, conduct investigations and testify on behalf of the government in federal court.  Other duties frequently performed by law enforcement rangers include:

First response or EMT duties at accident scenes.  Performing First Aid.  Search and rescue operations. Wildland firefighting.  Safety/accident prevention.  Providing security for special events.  Visitor protection and education.

The job really varies depending on the type of park you’re stationed in.  For instance, the ranger experience at Yellowstone will be much different than the ranger experience at Statue of Liberty. 

To get an idea of what park rangers are doing, take a look at the NPS Morning Report, aka the Ranger Report.

You don’t have to be a tree hugger to be a park ranger.  If you’re more of a city person, you may find your dream job at one of the memorials on the Mall in D.C., Statue of Liberty in New York City, the Arch in St. Louis.  There are lots of urban national park sites, especially on the east coast.

To learn more about the National Park Service and the approx. 400 sites they administer, visit their website at www.nps.gov

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