As I am getting closer to starting my fourth season with the National Park Service, I’ve been reminiscing about why I wanted to become a Park Ranger. I didn’t always want to be one, but it was a dream in the back of my mind. My family visited the Grand Canyon in 2005 and we camped on both the North and the South Rim. One night, we went to a campfire program held by a Park Ranger. The topic was about mule deers, and that’s honestly all I can remember. There was a point during the program when I thought to myself …. I could do that. I could be a Park Ranger and teach people about nature. Then, I promptly forgot about that program and instead kept it as an idea in the back of my mind.
Throughout high school my career choice changed quite often. Ranging from any field in photography (mostly aerial or photojournalism) to different types of architects. The summer after graduating high school, my family visited Yellowstone National Park and the spark of being a National Park Ranger ignited. By the end my freshmen year of University though, the dream of being a National Park Ranger became a goal. After my freshmen year I decided to follow my dream, and promptly transferred schools and moved to a different state. During the summer of my sophomore year, I had my first job with the National Park Service, and I was hooked! I love helping people connect with nature. Plus I enjoy making visitors’ vacations memorable and special. Actually being able to speak in front of a group of people was never something I thought I could do as a career.
Growing up I was always considered to be a quiet and shy child. Standing in front of a crowd to sing, act, dance, or do a presentation was terrifying to me! With my family and close friends however, they knew I was a loud, silly, and outdoorsy kid. My parents took my siblings and I camping at least once a year and it was always a good time. Every year we went “Up North” camping to hunt for mushrooms. There was a year however, when my parents thought we wouldn’t be able to go. I became very upset that we weren’t going to go, and threw the biggest tantrum of my young teenager life. We ended up camping that year. To this day, that area is one of my favorite spots in the United States. I enjoy doing any outdoor activity and my favorite part is sharing those experiences with people. My mother has told me that my younger brother was my best pal, and I would show him so many things outside in our backyard. So the idea of teaching and sharing outdoor experiences with people wasn’t a new thing to me. Just the idea of standing in front of large groups of strangers was.
When I put on my uniform for my second season with the National Park Service, at Mesa Verde National Park, I learned that I could do my dream job. I had my very first program/tour in the summer of 2012, and boy was I a nervous wreck! So nervous in fact, that my co-workers could tell. They kept whispering words of encouragement to me and stood nearby for support. You know how in cartoons, a characters knees knock together when they are scared? That’s what happens to me! Turns out I only had five people on my first program, but I feel in love with the job. I don’t think I will ever be completely calm before I begin a program. I just can’t see myself doing a different job quite yet! I’m still going to stick with this dream job for a time.
The National Parks Conservation Association wants to hear your Park Story, and I do too!
Do you have a favorite memory of a visit to a Park? It can be from your neighborhood park, a state park, or a National Park!