On July 31st we recognize World Ranger Day; each year, we celebrate the creation of the International Ranger Federation—an organization that supports the hard work rangers do around the globe. It serves as a day to honor their dedication and sacrifices protecting parklands, freshwater ecosystems, and oceans throughout the world.
Park rangers are the front lines for national park sites—preserving, protecting, and restoring parklands for generations to come. They are interpreters, scientists, historians, educators, caretakers, and guides, coming from all backgrounds and walks of life. Each job is unique to the site, and changes day to day. To learn more about the life of a park ranger, we interviewed Ranger Jane Rodgers of Joshua Tree National Park:
What does it mean to be a park ranger?
To me, being a park ranger means having the honor of caring for the special places set aside for their historic, natural, and wilderness values. It is a job title that inspires humility and commitment to public service.
What inspired you to become a park ranger?
My dad introduced me to the Sierras at an early age; I was inspired by hiking with him to Devils Postpile, smelling the pines, riding horses, fishing, and boating in the lakes. He loved ghost towns and history, and I feel lucky to have been exposed to beautiful parts of this country as well as national park areas near my mom and dad’s hometowns in England. I started college as a biology major and quickly realized a lab wasn’t for me– I quickly changed majors to forestry and forest management. One thing lead to another!
How long have you worked for the National Park Service?
Nearly 30 years. It’s been awesome!
Which parks have you worked at; if multiple park sites, what was unique about each?
Joshua Tree National Park 1994-2003 (amazing geology, unique plants, vistas that go on forever), Point Reyes National Seashore 2003-2008 (incredible biodiversity, marine life, historic family ranches), Grand Canyon National Park 2008-2016 (5,000 feet of low to high desert ecosystems, thousands of years of human occupation, deep relationships with traditionally associated Native American tribes), and back to Joshua Tree National Park 2016-today (front line of climate change response, visitor use management, and new ways to connect with neighbors and the public).
What are your favorite parts about your job?
The people I work with are awesome - smart, humble, great senses of humor, all totally committed to protecting our national treasures. It’s great to be part of a team with a common purpose! And of course, experiencing all that parks have to offer, being a part of projects that get you out to some real wild places, and truelying getting to know a place like the back of your hand.
What’s something you’d like to share with park visitors?
Visit parks like a park ranger! Show you care, learn something new, try something different, immerse yourself into a place, leave it better than you found it.
When visiting parks, it is important to recognize the work of park rangers. They help preserve the spaces we know and love for the next generation, and their work is key to the survival of these special places. For more information on the work park rangers are doing, be sure to ask them!
To learn more about the life of a park ranger, we interviewed Ranger Jane Rodgers of Joshua Tree National Park