Friday, January 29, 2010

2nd Day Off

Today really didn't involve any outdoor activity unless you count walking from the car to different stores while I ran errands today.  It was a beautiful day.  When I got home, I did have to close the park though.  I snapped some photos while I was making sure that all of the buildings were secure.  I know you are shocked, but there is more water!  We are over 22 feet above sea level now.  I can't get down to the river dock without walking through water or boating now.  The first photo is of the river dock area.  Remember the sidewalk?  Its completely submerged now.
IMG_6824On we go to the question and answer section of today's blog:
"What advice would you give a young girl (or boy) if she (he) wanted to become a park ranger? What would you tell her (him) to study in school, or do for extra curricular activities?"
I love this question.  This is like asking me to talk about photography.  I could talk all day.  I will try to edit myself.  People can take many different paths and end up as a park ranger.  My story is detailed here.   You also have to understand that rangers in different parks do very different things.  Some rangers are people greeters and question answerers in the ranger station, some rangers are maintenance workers, some rangers are fire fighters, some rangers are wildlife caregivers, some rangers are roving interpreters, some rangers are police officers.  Most rangers are some combination of all of those.  The best advice that I can give to a person wishing to become a ranger is to collect skills.  Here are some more specific ideas.
1. Most people expect a park ranger to be able to name every plant, animal, and bug in the forest.  No one can, but the more you know, the better.  Take biology or ecology classes.  If you can't name each piece of the puzzle, its good to know at least how they fit together.  Volunteer at an animal shelter, park, nature center, outdoor education facility.  The best resource I ever found for nature information was my coworkers at a nature center that I worked at.
2. Its also quite helpful to have some knowledge of fixing things.  Restrooms are a vital, but often overlooked part of a park and its best to be able to fix any restroom problem quickly and efficiently.  "Must have plunger experience" should be on every ranger job posting.  Vehicle maintenance is important as well.  Equipment lasts much longer if you properly maintain it.  Learn how to check oil, add oil, change tires, back up a trailer, charge or jump a battery, etc.  I don't know how people learn these things without having a Dad like mine though, good luck.
3. Gain experience working with people.  This one is easy to come by, people are everywhere.  You are gaining experience working with people if you are working in retail, fast food, or a park setting.  Its important to have confidence when you speak as well as to be welcoming and get your point across effectively.  It also helps to be able to read people.  It helps to know the difference between a funny face because the person is hiding a beer behind their back or a funny face because they are standing on hot pavement to talk to you.  Take advantage of opportunities speaking in public, or in front of a group.  Take speech classes if you can.
4. Be creative.  Its difficult sometimes to do everything that you would like to in the park on a tight budget.  It helps if you can think outside of the box and re-use things that you have on hand or make up an unusual solution to a problem.  In fact, it would be good to learn this skill to deal with life outside of work as well.  Rangers don't make a lot of money.  We have a lot benefits (i.e. going to work everyday in a place where people vacation) but money is not one of them.
5. Have some fun and do some outdoor activities.  I have led canoe trips and canoe tours, I am grateful for my boating and boating instruction experience.  People ask about fishing methods often, its good to know how to fish.  If you have camped before, you know what makes a good campground.  If you have visited a park before, you know what visitors want or are looking for.
6. Volunteer!  There is no better way to learn a job than to take part in it.  You can volunteer at a park or a nature center and accomplish a lot.  You can learn more, you can find out what you like and what you don't, and you can get used to working for next to nothing (kidding.... sort of).  Some great opportunities are out there for outdoorsy folk.  Check out Americorps or the Student Conservation Association or a similar organization.  They are volunteer and/or internship programs that can give you great on-the-job experience and some pay to help with college or living costs.


Linda said...

Daddy's beaming!

Anonymous said...

I love how you answered the question about being a park ranger for someone who might be thinking of becoming a ranger one day. Great job covering many of the things that people might not think of before they head in that direction.