IamA Park Ranger who lives and works on site. Celebrate Earth Day and ask me anything about this crazy job! I'll answer as many questions as I can!
I have been doing this 2 1/2 years. I quit an office cubicle job of a decade to get into manual labor at the age of 31 doing my dream job of being a Ranger. It has been one of the best decisions I have made! I live on site alone, with a couple co-workers living about 2 miles from me.
I worked in social services for a decade, and I just really like connecting with people and putting them onto the outdoors. I wasn't an outdoors person until later in life and it's something that has been a great benefit for me, and so I love sharing it with anyone who care.
I'm not a part of the NPS and I'm not LEO. AMA about being a Ranger, from the dog poop bag you left for me yesterday to weeks of playing cattle rustler. I also make videos and post shorts from the job and my life on YouTube if you wanna check it out or see more proof:
Just some non-profits you can support for earth day:
- The Wildlands Conservancy - CA's Largest Non Profit Land Conservancy
-Pacific Crest Trail Association
Edit: How do you become a Ranger? Be willing to work your ass off! If you’re between 18-25 in California join the California Conservation Corp where they will reach you to be a badass. I’ve literally worked with their groups of much younger women and I was struggling to keep up! Their motto is Hard Work, Low Pay, Miserable Conditions and More! For the NPS lookup educational requirements and volunteer or get experience in addition to the education. For non-profits work on getting some education going if you haven’t already and volunteer to get some experience.
Edit: It's 1:36pm PST, I've been at this for like 5.5 hours. I need to eat and Ill jump back on later tonight. Thank you everyone for all the questions. I will return after a sanity break. GET OUTSIDE IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY! Happy Earth Day!Edit: 2:12 pm PST gonna hang for a couple hours until it cools off a little and I can go on a grocery run, lets go!
It's not super common but I had a feeling when I started I would eventually deal with a body in some way. I had heard of another staff member helping get 1 or 2 out but not much and didn't ask too much. I had never seen a body not at a funeral and I wondered how I would react in the situation. I am pretty calm about that stuff but you just never know.
I get to work one day and the gate is open when it shouldn't be, and there are two cop cars and a couple cops standing around. They hadn't called or anything I just happened upon the scene about the same time as them. It was a guy down the wash, bloated and sun cooked in a bush curled up. It just felt weird not scary. I go back to the main gate to turn around visitors. In that time the coroner comes and then leaves with the cops. I go back in to make sure everything is good and they left all the blood soaked clothes and belonging where the guy was found... backpack unopened, clothes.
It's summer in the desert, it's hot, if you were to walk by you would think you were smelling a body and then if you were to look you would have seen a bloody outline and clothes, not something I wanted anyone to have to see. So I returned with a storage tub, contractor bags, grabbers, eye protection and respirator and cleaned up the belongings. You could see the ground moving and at one point an open reusable bottle was emptied of it's contents.
I was odd, just me a lone with nobody around for miles, just hearing my breathing in a respirator, and I'm collecting bloody clothes and belongings. It didn't mess me up, the only thing I have held onto from that was some anger that the stuff wasn't taken. It felt disrespectful to the dead to me. If I ever died like that I would hope someone would have the respect to gather my belongings.
So they did all the investigating they needed? You didn’t mess up a crime scene did you?
That's all they needed even though they didn't open the backpack to look for an ID or anything and I found stuff tossed in bushes. We let them know they didn't care.
I guess some people just really need to be in air conditioning.
I almost made it through the screening process to become a park district emergency dispatch operator, so I got to do a sit-along one day with them. They told that it's quite common for people to commit suicide in parks, so they get a lot of calls of bodies being found. So, that will happen even in areas that aren't dangerous to hike alone in. Kinda ruined going on hikes for me.....I still do it, because nature is amazing, but I'm always thinking about that now.
I'm more scared to hike alone because of the dangers of being hurt alone. It might be scary to see a body but at least you aren't wondering how you are gonna get home. That's how I frame it for myself you know?
You should have been in Ukraine to stop the invasion.
Civilians turned into soldiers so mount up!
How does one end up being a ranger? Do you get to choose the park/forest? Also are you really far from civilization?
So the most important thing I tell people who want to do this is that the NPS isn't the only place you can be a Ranger. There's multiple government agencies and there are places like non-profits which I prefer after working in government for so long, they have taken care of me.
Education and experience is the key, and I think experience is more important once your foot is in the door. If going for a government agency your Education is a prerequisite. I had experience volunteering in a fire tower, which was really isolated, on your own, and had some responsibility. I was also taking classes in conservation though I was honest it wasn't much. I also had some flexibility in the hiring because they didn't care just about education or if I knew how to build trails. They said they could teach me all that but they can't teach me to have the passion for the work, which you need, especially for my location. But despite my lack of a college degree I interview well, I wasn't bullshitting, and I don't come off like a dummy until I get comfortable with you and let down my guard.
But that honesty is a big factor. We've had people say they love the outdoors and outdoor work and then 6 months later they are hating it and confused why they having to do Ranger duties, so I reminded them that's the job they applied for.
We aren't terribly far from civilization, a few people also live out here, but it's like 4 houses in our area. I have to off-road to get home and back to the street so what's hard is times like right now. My Jeep power steering is leaking and I don't want to have to off-road myself to a mechanic. So in a few days I will have to rent a trailer and get it out of here. So stuff like that adds up and makes you thankful you don't have rent. Plus police take an hour to respond here so there is a risk of getting injured and dying alone. Stuff like the car sucks. I had to do the same thing last April so it will be 2 birthdays stuck out here!
I’m pretty terrible at interviews. Can I ask, what do you mean you aren’t a dummy and keep your guard up but are also honest? I try to acknowledge any faults I might have in interviews which is honest but makes me look like a dummy, so how do you do both?
When I say dummy I mean more of a goofball. In an interview I am here to show you how I am as a professional. This is the way I will talk and behave as a representative of your company/whatever.
You wont always be able to have a really honest moment but if you can, you can. The reason I think mine helped is because I complained more of my personality not fitting at that job in terms of being able to do more with my life. I didn't complain about a person or the employer (even though they sucked), I spoke about me having a desire to do more, that the more to me has been a Ranger doing physical work. Because I had 10 years just about at that job I was more comfortable. That shows an employer that you aren't going to fuck them over just because you got bored of a job. It shows follow through that despite it not making me happy I did my job and I did it for 10 years.
You only have to acknowledge faults if they ask. And even then I make up a safe broad one ahead of time that is hard to hold against someone. So if I get asked what my biggest weakness is it would be something like, "Sometimes I doubt my ability even if I know I can do something. Its a weakness to me because I shouldn't have to think about what I know, but I always remind myself in those moments and snap out of it"
Like who's gonna say, "We're not hiring that guy, he said he sometimes doubts himself." It will make that question null and they can focus on your ability/experience/what you bring.
Got denied for the power rangers and this was the second best thing
I was an official member of the fan club I'll have you know.
As someone who lived in a remote fire bunkhouse, I loved the job and being in nature everyday. The manual labor was so rewarding, motion is lotion!! I will say though as a single 23 yr old at the time, I found the long term commitment would come at a significant interpersonal social and romantic cost. Do you find the isolation lonely and do you anticipate you'll find a partner to share your work/life with in the position and location you're in now?
That's awesome! Great point!
In terms of being isolated, that's not a problem, I've kind of done things on my own since I was in my early 20's. I can be very social but in my spare time I like being alone rather than going out or having people come over, unless they are old friends.
I actually do have a Fiancé, we see each other on weekends and we have really good communication so it hasn't been an issue. We would like to live together but we are ok with waiting for that to be easier. We both play PC games so that's what we do a lot during the week. Pretty quickly in relationships the "What's your favorite color?" questions are done with, so video games are a way for us to talk like normal while also doing something together.
Have you played firewatch?
Loved it so much that I volunteered in a Fire Tower the following season!
You have signal out there?
Some areas. You actually start to figure out what rocks and bushes to stand by to get one. Thankfully wifi helps. For navigation I just download a map ahead of time since the GPS position is overlaid without a cell signal.
As a Ranger do you prefer the bow or are you more into two weapon fighting? Are you more of a Beast Master subclass or Drakewarden?
I'm still trying to get another Ranger to let me into his DND group so I wouldn't know :(
Did you get to pick your park or did you go wherever you were told?
I don't work for a National Park. I didn't want to because I thought all Rangers were law enforcement and that's not what I wanted to get into. Maybe some time down the road but I doubt it. I work for a really great non-profit that I know has taken care of me in ways a government organization could not. It also allows us more flexibility to make changes, there isn't an approval process, it's a phone call.
I did get to work where I wanted with my employer as I waited until a position opened in the area I wanted. Turns out a lot of people don't like it here because it's hot and you aren't close to anyone or anything, perfect for me.
What exactly do you do if you're not law enforcement? I also thought all Rangers did law enforcement; what's your job title?
Stop people from damaging the land, restore the land, search and rescue, trail building, lately a ton of cutting and welding steel for new trailhead signs, tree trimming and landscaping, invasive removal, property patrols, assisting partner agencies wildlife studies like helping bring in big horns as a helicopter is bringing them in.
WE DO EVERYTHING
How’s the litter situation where you are? The pandemic has been horrible for this from what I’ve seen. Lots of tourists at Saguaro just threw masks wherever, along with garbage left by people (who almost always roll up to take some pictures for the socials and leave). Didn’t used to be like this pre-pandemic I feel.
I joined up in 2020 and we found a lot of masks that first year. Now I can't remember the last time I saw one. The biggest issue is two things. People pulling off the road at night shit faced, dumping trash and plowing over vegetation, and PEOPLE LEAVING BAGS OF DOG SHIT!.
People, the poop fairy isn't real. If you aren't going to pickup your dog poop don't put it in a bag!! You just took littering up another level by wrapping dog crap in trash and leaving both out there.
Sometimes I leave my dog's poop in a bag to pick up on the way back and I forget. I never have the intention of leaving it there on purpose. I suspect most of the poop you find is from people like that, otherwise they wouldn't bother to pick it up in the first place.
I am sorry though, it's not really an excuse.
We have people that repeatedly leave it by our stuff so that we will take it for them. And I find/have seen them in enough places to know that some people just bag it and leave it out of pure laziness.
Pack it in, pack it out! But a mistake doesn't bother me, it's people thinking we are the poop fairies!
Hey there from australia.
What do you do in your spare time/not working?
Hello in Australia!
Man, I get into everything...
Hiking of course, making videos for my private instagram or some for youtube, pc games (glad to finally play TLOU on PC). I like driving fire trails in my Jeep when it's running. Building or fixing stuff, making my home more comfortable, working out listening to podcasts reading (currently reading the last season), skating when the season is right now that I don't have concrete at home.
I jump between a lot of artistic hobbies videos/photography/drawing, but making simple edited videos is something I have been doing for fun for like 20 years. I don't like a lot of crazy editing, I try to make the most of my footage with just cutting and music. I was heavily and almost entirely influenced by skate videos growing up.
Do you ever have to deal with poachers?
I haven't but other preserves of ours do. I met some dudes from our other ones a few months back and they talked about reporting miles into the field at like 4am to get ahead of the poachers. Glad I don't have to start that early!
Have you ever come across a staircase in the middle of the woods?
· 2 hr. ago
Have you ever
I did a quick google search to see what this is a reference to. A lot of those actually had dwellings even though it seems like there is no sign of one, it's just long gone, probably water related. We have various ruins out here.
I have carved a stair case into a boulder with a pickaxes though!
Trying to answer as much as I can. Need a quick coffee break and I'll be right back!
Is it legal to keep wildlife, um... an amphibious rodent, for... um, ya know domestic... within the city?
Probably not and he probably hates it, and I also heard certain amphibious rodents will actually put a hurting on a person. I would check with your local game warden and if you are going to break the rules as all people do, at least make sure you aren't making their life worse.
I mean it's legal to take a bunch of snakes with a Fishing License in California but I don't think it's cool to collect a bunch of them in tiny glass cages you know?
Did you happen to see the recent documentary film "Cocaine Bear"? Would you say it depicts the job of park ranger accurately?
I did not because I got he whole story from the title.. jk.
I don't know how they are depicted, but the Rangers I know are all intellectual, self aware, and driven.
I put myself in that category but I think I might have a little extra thrill seeker in me that makes me try to find some sort of fun action on the job.
How often do you get reports of a bear wearing a tie stealing picnic baskets?
The closest I came to that was a voicemail or email about a bigfoot. My friend sent it but wasn't smart enough to remember his name was in the email address lol.
Any tips or advice for someone interested in entering that field of work?
Volunteering and education. I think volunteering is really important so you know what to study. You may think you want to be a Ranger, then you see how a lot of the job isn't just hiking and education but labor, and then you decide you would rather work in a position that is more guest education and interpretation oriented. This might make a difference in what you study, but both are important.
Do you get a lot of crime in the park? What kind of crimes?
Break ins and and vandalism. Usually dumb shit like that.
Are you more of a Leslie Knope or a Ron Swanson?
Really would have loved to see Ron Swanson teach Michael Scott how to really survivor man it. Or a Dwight Ron crossover. Also, Bill, the onions were getting cut so hot and heavy I had to finish the episode in the morning to not go into a full depression.
How often are you dealing with crazy people doing crazy things away from normal society?
Love this question. We usually find evidence... after things are done. People used to come out here and just do shooting halfway up our road but we have address it in a way that it doesn't happen anymore. It's just crazy because they would be shooting at low hills with a house behind them.
Have you ever seen a UFO out in the park?
The closest I've seen is a story that comes full circle. Not here but nearby I was camping with friends. I saw lights way up the mountain a few different colors. Just the like illumination, not the light source, but I could see it way up there. I said nothing, walked over and sat by my friend I still know and have known since kidnergarden. He turns to me and says, "I dont wanna say anything but I'm seeing lights on mountain". They were like red blue green, weird.
It was like 10 years later when I volunteered in the firetower, I realized it was right above the lake we used to camp at and their is a camp site way up there.
Other than that I look all the time. We get A LOT of crazy military fly overs. I've had blacked out helicopters flying over my house so low at 3am that I thought they were making an emergency landing.
I haven't seen anything paranormal, UFO's or cryptids, but would love to witness any and all of it.
I think it's awesome to be able to live surrounded by nature. It's one of the things I have really thought of, it's like an itch to be honest. I live in the city and the only times I feel relaxed is when I'm around nature, the canyons and parks.
But, how do you handle the isolation, and how do you handle the nights? Do you have to be a people person for the job? Is it easier to be around others in that setting?
The isolation isn't bad. It's scarier to live in a city with a ton of people for me personally. Even out here I'm more worried about people than anything else.
The first night I thought would be creepy but I slept fine, and as I've told others before, most nights I'm falling asleep to a true crime podcast or FBI files playing on the tv. I forget to lock the door half the time.
Going back to a city gets more irritating I think. Seeing so many cars move so slow drives me crazy, or noticing now how close my mom's house is to her neighbors.
How'd you get into it? This was my dream earlier in life.
I took a family trip to Yosemite, ashamedly I was so not into the outdoors that trip I didn't even get on a trail. But when we went to glacier point and I saw how big the world was (I hadn't flown at that time), I started working nature into everything I did. Books, games, movies, shows. I just kept it in my mind, then started volunteering, and then some classes.
"Networking" is a term I disliked. But just talking to someone is how I got in. I only said Hi to a Ranger I saw working, and 30 seconds later I had a feeling to run back and go talk to him which I did for just a couple minutes but enough to talk about experience and stuff. He remembered me a year later when I applied.
The conservation community is tight nit, especially at the top, so "networking" is just natural, everyone is excited to know everyone. So if you are still taking classes but people know you from volunteering that can really help when a job opens either at the place you are volunteering at, or a nearby place that knows who you volunteer with.
UK here, how big is your area? I know some parks over there are bigger than England lol.
Hello UK, you guys got the park ranger thing started in the first place so a true OG.
I actually work on two sites each day and the total is 30,000 acres.
I can see both sides as far as feeding/not feeding wild animals. We have elk, rabbits, ravens, etc. I do hang bird feeders that the elk can and do get. Can I put out some alpha hay for them and the rabbits? Also, can I throw out old fruits and vegetables for the ravens/animals? Thank you for the wonderful work you do!!
The only animals I really can get behind are bird feeders if you keep them stocked.
People food can get animals sick, it also gets them used to people which makes them do things like venture close to highways or worse. I had a bobcat that was hanging out like 10 feet away for a couple weeks and I would have loved to throw my sandwhich and watched the big house cat chase it but instead I tried to scare him away so he wouldn't get used to people. I had no effect on him whatsoever. If you do decide to feed animals I would at least research what is ok to give them. Old food isn't really good for animals though. Ravens are a problem since they go where there is people, there is a huge issue here with them killing the desert tortoises.
If I discover a previously undiscovered species of fungi, what is the process to get permission to take a sample for DNA sequencing and further study?
If you found something previously undiscovered give the place a call and let them know what you found, why its significant and what you would like to do. It depends on where you ask but I think everyone here would be stoked, want to see it and help accommodate the request if it's something previously unknown.
Have you experienced or seen anything "paranormal"? Bigfoot, UFOs, that kind of thing. Maybe just strangest explainable encounter if not.
Nope! I wish but sadly no.
do you play any video games, if so, what ones?
Currently playing through TLOU on PC. That's probably my favorite game and I haven't played since the PS4 came out.
We play MW2, Halo 2, used to play OW but having trouble liking it. We are waiting for the next big mulitplayer or CSGO2 I think. I play a lot of multiplayer so I can play with my fiance.
How is the pay? Is it enough to live off or do you have supplemental income? What's your standard of living outside of work?
I ask because being a park ranger sounds exciting but if it doesn't pay enough to live I feel like that will turn away a lot of very interested and capable people.
They provide a house for me to live in alone and the pay scale is good enough that housing was like a big plus. They also help with school but this semester I couldn't attend because of car problems. Again depends on where you work and how they decided to grow. We are a tight nit team and I feel we get good compensation and our best interests are always being supported.
So many questions.
I'm scared s**t less of mtn lions. How many have you seen/heard and do they sound like a shrieking kid when they howl or whatever? Any interesting stories about big animal encounters (bear mostly)?
How do you deal with lightening? Living in CO most people have a healthy respect for it. Any encounters?
What do you think about REAL bushcrafters (Les Stroud, Ray Mears, etc) and their tactics? Do you work on/try any bushcraft stuff?
Have you been involved with moving/extracting someone with a serious injury? I'm sure most of the area is jeep or quad accessible but there's probably plenty of trails well off the beaten path.
Bigfoot. Have you seen, heard anything that might be remotely considered the work of something like Bigfoot? Many people have seen broken trees and other things in the forest that don't seem likely to be done by man.
Thanks for hosting this!
We have black bear, Ive had the prints surrounding my house one morning, and I got him on camera at the watering hole about 100 yards away.
Mountain Lion, I was inside and heard a screaming, I went outside and heard one roaring in the distance, there is a clip on my youtube of that, its a little hard to hear but you can hear it. I was out of town the next day but back on the 3rd and I heard that bastard again as I was walking from the car. Found big prints.
I've loaded up my car with my stuff getting ready to close up, and as I was walking back to the station to lock up I froze. I just had a weird feeling and looked up scanning the 20 foot tall hill on the side of our station. It was dusk so every plant was a straight up silhouette. I'm just scanning for some reason and stop on one that looks like the outline of a cat. I stared for like 15 seconds wondering if I'm looking at a cat or the bushes are mixed together. Again everything is a pure silhouette I can't see detail just shapes. I said to myself "You're trippin" and as I take a step the cat turns and disappears behind the hillside.
Nothing crazy with lightning that I've experienced here up close. Hearing thunder roar through Yosemite Valley was probably the only time I've gotten scared of lightning. This whole area burned up in a fire from lightning though, so that's the biggest fear in regards to it. I went to Colorado two summers ago during like a record heat wave. It was beautfiul but I had the same weather as here in the desert, everyone was out of ice and sitting outside at night. Love the people, and the state. We talk about it all the time.
Les Stroud was a big reason I got into this. I watched a ton of survivorman because I loved his knowledge. The bushcraft stuff was cool but how he had all the knowledge of animals, plants and why some techniques will work was so cool. I always had that show on repeat leading up until I started working here. I've used techniques of his before I worked here and even now. The hand to measure daylight I always remember friends making fun of me and then me being on the money they were like holy hell! He has a lot of good info and the fact that he did the production I also loved because I've been making videos since I was skating in middle school.
Let me make it clear, no love for Bear Grylls.
I haven't carried someone out but had to meet a guy who should have known better that was severely dehydrated and scary looking. Just kept walking with him back he was shook up. He was like 2 miles out and as soon as he saw me he finished his last sip of water. It was a hot ass day and he was out all day.
My Bigfoot question was directly related to the shows that Les put together about searching for Bigfoot. The things he showed and his explanation, or lack thereof, for the disruption in the forest really got me curious. His original 'encounter' caught on camera (a sound somewhere behind him) was interesting.
So many people talk about having a 'feeling' that something was stalking them, then finding out it was a cat is freaky. I had that feeling once Mtn biking in the foothills just outside of Denver.
Thanks for the thorough responses
You know I respect that he approaches bigfoot in a serious way but I just can't get into it. If there was some more proof I would be more interested. But I can tell you it's pretty crazy how good I've gotten at noticing tracks and stuff like that, I find it really hard to believe if there was one, guys that are out there tracking more than me, like hunters wouldn't have found one.
What advice would you have for an entire nature nerd to get into a position like yours (even just adjacent) on not a large budget to "go to college" but with plenty of outdoors experience incl hiking camping some scientific stuff. I'm well into adulthood and since I can't afford four years I gave up initially, but perhaps there's a chance?
Go to community college. Get an associates. F the 4 year deal. People here have degrees in stuff that isn't related but they worked in this sort of background or had that interest.
Gain knowledge from community college even if you arent going for a degree. I had to take this whole semester off because I was burned out and then yesterday's class I had no transportation. Then volunteer and ask the people you volunteer with. Look at all jobs that are having to do with conservation in your area.
Have you read the book “Desert solitaire”? If not, you might find it interesting!
I own it. I was given a tip that in my interview it was going to get brought up. So before my interview I was ironing clothes and listening to snippets that I could bring up lol. When they asked about reading and I brought up Steinbeck we got going on that and Desert Solitaire was skipped. But an interesting note.
Actually this day last year I was on the biggest vacation of my life in Hawaii and I took Desert Solitaire with me. I had been so blown away by going from the desert straight to a tropical environment. I only read like the first chapter out there but it really hit me when he talked about all the plants in the desert having their own space to grown. I had been noticing in Hawaii how much everything was grown on top of each other. It made the desert feel even more calming, but Hawaii was really beautiful.
do park rangers have any role in alerting wildfire lookouts? How does information transfer between these roles, if at all, for surveillance and during wildfire suppression?
We don't have the towers here, that was something I did in the past. To be honest in this area they are kind of just an extra backup. I would hear the pilots on the radio before I could even see the smoke when I would be up there.
The internet good out there? What's pay like?
DSL baby 2MB/s! Fast enough for online gaming, but you better start the download for the game you want to play a day in advance. Pay is competitive and more than minimum wage.
Do you have a family? How does visiting work? Do they live with you on site?
No kids just my regular family an hour away, they dont visit much, I usually have to. My fiance comes over on the weekends and I go pick her up since I'm going to run errands.
Obviously this is gonna depend on your agencies policies, but how do you feel about off trail exploration and/or trespassers?
Might sound dumb but I like to explore our incredibly diverse terrain here in SoCal but access to much of it is blocked by red tape - whether it be public or private agencies, landholders, etc - which inevitably leads to run ins with folks like yourself. Was curious to hear your thoughts on the matter (assuming LNT is followed).
We like when people get off trail but you have to do it right. I go off trail when I hike but the problem is when people make it obvious they went off and then other people do it and then you have a ton off footprints in a huge section instead of inline like on a trail, then nothing grows there for a while.
I tell people they can go off trail when they are out of sight of the tourists that aren't going far from the station.
Landowners have a legitmate concern I think. Apps like alltrails are horrible. We find trails that go right by somebody's house. I live in the middle of nowhere so if someone is outside my house it's suspicious and I approach them as such.
If you are smart, you research the area and look at a satellite map. Stay away from people's property. being 300 yards from someone's door that doesnt have another house nearby for miles is like standing at someone's door in a regular city.
So I support responsible off trail hiking, which in my mind is nobody else seeing, leaving no trace, and showing some respect for others space.
Do you find that people are more respectful of nature being in national parks or do they still tend to constantly litter and not care? It’s always upsetting to me to see how much our planet gets trashed and I imagine it’s not easy dealing with that. And do you personally clean up trash, if so how long do you spend during each shift dealing with that?
Thank you for protecting our planet! 🌏
We clean up the trash and it just depends. It's usually one person who is a total slob dumping their fast food. Sometimes it's people dumping yard waste. Sometimes it's nothing, sometimes it's an hour. But we are usually picking up any small or large trash we see wherever we are walking. You get used to putting trash in your pockets.
I live in the UK so we don’t really have this type of job here but it’s always appealed to me. Was it hard to get this job?
In general yes. I think there was a lot of luck on my side but also persistence. It took me a year to get the courage to apply but I my now bosses business card by my work monitor and then monitor at home when I worked from home to keep it in mind. These jobs will be more and more available though if we can continue to focus on climate change!
Have you experienced anything paranormal or unexplained while out? Any super strange encounters?
No, I wish. Like 2 months ago I thought I heard a woman like wailing in the distance. I turned off the tv and everything and started recording with my phone, as I am walking around I hear it faint but close. My fatass cat was snoring.
Is it a lot less glamorous than many people expect? Or does everyone getting into it basically know what they're signing up for?
I think you have to be more aware of the fact that it is sort of thankless. Our job is to maintain things without you feeling like someone is keeping things good for you. Sometimes we get so many improvements done we have to be able to find satisfaction in the result of our work and knowing people are happy even if they don't tell us directly.
Cleaning a toilet doesn't feel glamorous sure, but when you're marching with a team of Ranger's each with tools and posts on their back that feels empowering. And when people see that they get excited and you know they know what you do. So it really just depends. Not everyone knows what they are signing up for even when it's made perfectly clear, I've seen that for sure.
Two questions and I won’t be offended if you just pick one.
1) What’s the strangest thing you’ve had happen? I just mean in general. People are weird with without anything paranormal happening.
2) What sort of first aide supplies do you wish every visitor carried with them?
We have a lot of conspiracies so I've had a conversation with multiple people at the same time explaining to them we aren't opening up a golf course. And when they say that they have seen it or a friend has, I tell them then you must be confused because that's where the house is that I live in, it would be impossible to do out here, and we are a conservation group that has a lot more improvements we could use over a golf course. Also that we have secret dam that we make a ton of money off of. When we get asked we tell people to up the canyon and let us know if they find it.
- Honestly, water and sunscreen. The only time I've had to help someone who was in scary shape was someone who worked for a government agency that should have known better.
NOLS is the best place to buy first aid gear IMO. I took their class for work and then found out they sell the gear pretty much at cost. Maybe also some gauze if you get a wound but without training a lot of the stuff on our list would waste time because they are things that require more time to sort of assess. A sam split is good to have for breaks and that's kind of straight forward. A comb if in the desert to put between your skin and cactus if you catch any.
- Honestly, water and sunscreen. The only time I've had to help someone who was in scary shape was someone who worked for a government agency that should have known better.
Our list of suggested items
Did your jacket come with the purchase of a new Ford pickup?
Thankfully not! We did get a Ranger last year though so we have a Tacoma and Ranger. I like the Ranger on the road but for work I prefer the Tacoma. I don't really like the dirt roads with the ecoboost, it feels like the power kicks in wherever it wants.
Ever been walking in the woods and just found a random set of stairs?
Everyone keeps asking and no. And they aren't mysterious, they are just probably dwellings that weren't as reinforced and washed away or deteriorated.
If people are seeing modern stairs I can tell you from experience it's some "artists" trash.
Edit: also, didnt mean to sound like I being curt lol
Okay big questionS!
Are there portals in the park ?
How many people have gone missing in ur parks ?
Are there cryptids in your park or worse ?
Are there any cursed place in your park ?
There's a spot where a guy was shot and laid on the floor for days and then finally died at a hospital about a hundred years ago. If anything is cursed I don't have anything to worry about because I got too much respect for the land and history that I feel ok haha.
How much of your job is working with nature vs just being a cop?
When I was considered pursuing a career in the field I was told by a Ranger in a small park that it’s basically just being a beat cop that has to police campers and hikers.
We aren't government so luckily 100% of the time I'm not enforcing the law, only rules. That's if you want to be an LEO ranger which can even be patrolling the US MEXICO border with BLM.
It's about 30% patrolling, routine maintenance and guest interactions and the rest of the time is usually building something or some other physical work. We are doing a lot of metal frames for signs right now. We usually do a big project and get started on the next one. It's like being in nature and learning to be a handy man. And it varies with the season. So you might be chopping wood on morning in winter to warm up and in summer you're making sure the solar system is all looking good to cool.
What's the uniform like? Is it practical? Can you choose, say, not to be in a warm/hot climate? What about time off per year? Thanks for doing this. I've always loved nature and being outside and also being alone. I know I'd love to have this job but I think I'm a little too old to start now. Anyway, thanks again.
We have work uniforms and can wear whichever we want. We get like an allotment each year to choose. I think its like 8 shirts. So Ill get a couple button up long sleeves, long sleeve t shirts, t shirts, we have the moisture wicking shirts and longsleeves. So I just pickout what I dont really have and you can wear whatever you want that has our logo.
We also get like 3 hats which we have mesh, dad hat, brimmed hats. I grab the dad hats. We also get a jacket/sweater or vest every 2 years. So I have a Carhartt hoodie and a carhartt vest that I loved, and rain jacket that is great but kind of falling apart.
Up here we sometimes where something without the logo if we are staying in the shop all day but I keep on a hat or something so if someone has a question they can ask me.
Pants and shoes we are on our own, but I found a decent company that makes pants $40 that have lasted a year. Boots I am about to order some, I'm overdue, I probably have 1300 miles or something on them.
You can always volunteer. We have a lot of older people that maybe don't want to still do manual labor that hike and cleanup and just make contact with guests. Id check areas around you for volunteer work.
What are your favourite or most effective little/no effort ways to help guests respect your park/humans respect the world?
Education. I find that explaining why I would like them to stop, fixes the problem 99 percent of the time. There were a lot of good practices I had to ask or be taught about when I started the job.
I was always on the street growing up, and I stayed connected with it in social services and my friends. I am very good at communicating and as someone who did debate it's pretty easy for me to support my argument, though I'm not hard headed so I will readily admit a mistake. I stress things like safety, previous history and the fact that the place looks as good as it does because of the work we put in just so the public can come out and enjoy it. And the fact that we do it without asking for money makes people look worse who want to just be outright disrespectful.
When someone is going over the line I spell it out clearly and pretty much tell them they need to leave now.
Any good book recommendations?
I love Steinbeck. His descriptions of the land and the people are beautiful.
I'm reading The Last Season right now about a Ranger who went missing in the Yosemite area. I hadn't read anything in a bit because work had been so draining but I'm enjoying this so far. A little too relatable at times!
Do you think you will still be playing with the packers this season?
No, I never played with them despite what people say, think, see or hear. I always declined their call.
What are some programs, laws, and things we can do to support the parks and to help out you guys? Thanks for all u do!
I would say support your local non-profit and visit your parks through volunteering, donating or practicing good habits or promoting them. Support doing away with recreation.gov. Practice and support Leave No Trace. Push for more funding towards conservation projects. Limit plastic usage! Aluminum can be recycled infinitely, don't believe the BS water bottle company ads on youtube that say if we recycle more plastic we can fix the problem. Plastic can be recycled once or twice and then it is useless.
Why do away with recreation.gov?
Booz Allen running it with a bunch of junk fees that just make it harder for people, myself included to get into the outdoors.
Thoughts on Rhoda: Episode 23 (7015)?
I've seen a lot of sitcoms that were before my time, but I have never heard of Rhoda. But I can give you my first impression from watching 20 seconds of the episode just now. Their building manager sucks, and I didn't like his sexist comment. A real jerk, and I gotta tell you, I wouldn't have minded if those two women jumped him and credits rolled right there!
You should watch the episode – It involves someone deciding to become a park ranger.
Making a note of it because now I will actually watch it lol. Firewatch the game got me into a firetower which lead me here. Maybe the reverse will happen though and I'll end up moving to Manhattan to try and make it big! Time will tell!
Would you be a federal employee then? What kind of training do you receive before starting your job?
I work in a non profit, I didn't want to work in government anymore (not saying I would have automatically gotten a job).
Job specific training I've gotten is CPR/AED along with Wilderness First Aid. Unfortunately we don't have an obstacle course which would have been cool.
What kind of tools do you carry typically? and use not typically?
So I'm not much of an EDC guy because of the weight but some stuff I do keep with me.
I keep a leatherman bond with me, I had a skeletool for 10 years but it's not rigid enough and the screw driver bit shapes suck. The bond is the smallest while being versatile and having a straight edge knife so I like it. I keep a flipper civivi with me just because it's easier to flick the knife real quick and it's light when I'm opening boxes or cutting stuff up. An all weather pen is good. And gloves, always gloves, sooo many pairs of gloves.
In my bag I have my gopro stuff, bear mace, snacks, water, electrolyte powder, sunscreen, chapstick, extra snacks, extra clothes, buttwipes, radio.
I might throw in a respirator and googles.
Do you yell at the locals for having their dog off-leash?
I only yell if I'm so far away that I have to to get their attention, plus my hearing.
It doesn't matter if someone is local or not, we don't treat anyone special, even ourselves. Some people also have a legitimate fear of dogs from being attacked before and shouldn't have their hike ruined because someone's dog wants to jump on them. Also a dog running around disturbs wildlife, dogs aren't wild animals, but they can run around and scare up birds, kill rabbits, or get bit by a rattlesnake. Even if a coyote would have ate that rabbit tonight, it might not get to now, or it might avoid the area because of some scent throwing it off.
I don't think I've ever yelled at anyone here lol. The closest was probably last week telling someone I'm done with the conversation as they started getting into some racist shit.
Are you the more feminine brother of Aaron Rodgers?
I saw a picture of Aaron Rodgers like a decade ago and thought, hey, that dude looks like me.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve had to deal with on the job?
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