Working with Nature: Park Rangers
Every year, people across Canada go to visit national or provincial parks. They go hiking or camping, and they spend time walking in the forests or swimming in the lakes. Have you ever thought of the people who help keep those parks going? Someday, you might be able to look after the animals and people in these places if you decide to become a park ranger – also called a warden.
Park rangers or wardens are people who help to keep parks running smoothly, helping both the animals that live there and the people who come to visit. If you love the outdoors and want to help preserve it for the future, working as a park ranger might be the job for you.
Many different activities can be part of a park ranger’s job. Rangers have to know how to deal with both large and small animals and to be able to work with them safely. They have to know about the different types of animals in the area and to be able to help them when they are sick or injured. This work can often be dangerous. Moving animals from one place to another spot inside or outside the park is also a dangerous but important part of the job.
Knowing about the plants in the area is also important for park rangers. If they know the locations of poison ivy, for example, they can tell people what areas to avoid and where they need to be careful. They can take people on nature tours to teach them all about the animals and plants they might see.
Learning all about the plants and animals in the park takes a mixture of education and experience. Normally, park rangers have four-year degrees in areas such as wildlife biology or botany (the study of plants). Having a general knowledge is important, but park rangers can also become specialists in one or two areas, like bears or insects.
In some cases, the work of park rangers is close to law enforcement, especially when they work with people who come to visit the park. Park rangers help to enforce the rules, such as the regulations about when people can build fires or what they can do in campgrounds. They might also have to search for people who are lost or help anyone who has been injured or is feeling sick. Park rangers have to know basic first aid and to be able to deal with whatever happens.
If you decide to become a park ranger, you should be prepared to live in a small community instead of a city so that you can be close to your work. You should be comfortable with working alone but also be able to work with people and to talk with the public. If this kind of job sounds good to you, maybe you should consider becoming a park ranger.