Description and Objectives of the Interview
The aim of the interview was to provide an opportunity to apply and expand understanding and knowledge of discretionary prerogatives of law enforcement officers, the stewardship of cultural, natural, and historical resources and professional responsibilities imparted in a position of public trust.
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A national park ranger participated in this interview.
Details of the Interview
From the interview, one can deduce that a park ranger performs several duties in managing parks as recreational and protected sites.
Some specific duties of a park ranger include protection of the park and property, collecting and disseminating scientific information about the park, developing and interpreting park materials for visitors and investigating all forms of complaints or encroachment.
A park ranger must understand the Federal Laws, natural statistics and features and history of the park reserves. The job involves collecting and reviewing data on a regular basis. Such data are critical when a park ranger provides tour services to visitors who wish to learn more about the park. Thus, knowledge about historical facts, natural changes and park dynamics is vital for a park ranger. A park ranger may provide such information to visitors. Park rangers must prepare in advance and have well-developed schedules to give effective tour guidance for visitors. They must present both current and past facts about the park to visitors. Visitors may ask questions and get responses from park rangers.
Park rangers are the customer-facing and most visible employees of the National Park Service. They, therefore, must act professionally and abide by the parks’ regulations and laws. In this regard, a park ranger provides information on critical laws and regulations to visitors and assists with all emergency cases.
Specific answers about the park and its officers
The interview questions were designed to highlight various aspects of the park’s operations. They covered the roles and responsibilities of the park ranger, park operations and activities, visitations, animals’ rights and protection, laws and regulations, safety and training programs for park rangers.
The park ranger noted that Federal laws and regulations guide many operations and activities, including their roles and responsibilities within the park. In addition, there are also codes of ethics and professional conducts that guide their behaviors, interactions with park visitors and protection of the park and property. The park ranger noted that rangers were subjected to regular training and development programs, safety training and information management.
Lesson learned about the present and future role of a Law Enforcement Ranger
We have established that park rangers must understand the past and history of their profession, roles and responsibilities (Mackintosh, 1999). It is imperative to comprehend present and future possible situations in law enforcement (Albright & Schenck, 1999). Unfortunately, the future could present significant challenges to rangers as the public become critical of issues and interpretation of the Constitution becomes highly liberal.
Currently, a park ranger must work within specific periods and guidelines. The present roles and responsibilities of park rangers appear to be focusing on changes in population at the park, human/wildlife conflicts and protection of the ecosystem alongside modernization of various infrastructures. Consequently, park rangers’ roles in the present time continue to evolve to meet new challenges.
While it is difficult to predict the future, one can speculate potential changes in the roles, responsibilities and law enforcement in the national parks. As we move into a data driven era, it is possible that park rangers will have to rely on intelligence-led service provision to protect and manage the parks. This approach will aim to maximize effective utilization of the available resources dedicated to national parks.
Academy training preparation and law enforcement in areas administered by the National Park Service
The interviewee noted that training and education have prepared him for his roles and responsibilities as a national law enforcement ranger. While the interviewee started his career at the US Marshall Service and then proceeded to the park service, he attended the SLEPT academy in NC, graduated from the academy and found employment at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. After five seasons, he got a full time opportunity at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. This career path shows that training at the academy prepares individuals for the role of a national park ranger.
Additionally, the ranger also noted that there were significant challenges in the job. For instance, he has to face bureaucratic processes, observe time, prepare reports and perform various roles. In this regard, academy training prepares rangers for such challenges. In addition, the training ensures flexibility among law enforcement rangers as they continue to receive in-service training and learn new materials.
Types of in-service and/or advanced training for park rangers after the academy
A park ranger must receive a Mandatory Physical Fitness Training as scheduled throughout their career. All participants must take part in such activities. There are several in-service training programs on the park and natural resources protection, changes in federal and state laws, regulations and policies on recreation. In addition, park rangers receive training on arrest, search and detention of suspects.
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Training on leadership skills, interpersonal communication skills and park protection have also become significant components of regular training programs. Moreover, there are practical training programs on emergencies, crisis interventions, search and rescue and firefighting.
Overall, the major aims of in-service training and advanced training programs are to prepare rangers for real-life experiences, leadership and management roles, interpersonal communication and highly specialized roles in the park.
Other topic discussed
Another topic of interest in the interview was the interpretation of information. During the interview, one aspect in the roles of a park ranger was the provision of a wide range of information to various individuals who visit the park. The interviewee commented that various rangers offer different forms of information to visitors. For instance, there are rangers who act as tour guides, organize trips and resources, offer information on weather forecasts and various activities within the park. In this regard, many rangers engage in the provision of interpretive programs.
Interpretation, in this regard, entails tour guides, information on the park’s past, changing ecology, lecturers and education to the public on conversation and park law enforcement.
The interviewee noted that all park rangers are trained to be experts in their primary and secondary roles within the park.
Conclusions / Reactions to the Interview
The interview was successful. The ranger interviewed was in a full uniform as required by regulations. This presented an image of professionalism and reflected the responsibilities of rangers in protecting natural resources.
The park ranger was friendly and answered all questions asked to the best of his abilities. He highlighted the best part of the job as being highly flexible to various circumstances. At the same time, the interviewee commented on the worst part of the job as too much paperwork and redundant reporting processes.
The interviewee provided critical insights on the National Park Service, responsibilities, roles and training requirements of a park ranger. Obviously, a park ranger must be highly knowledgeable and skilled in a wide range of issues involving the park.
It showed that the occupation is highly demanding in terms of training and personal skills. Moreover, the job exposes rangers to different situations that require various responses. At the same time, it is a flexible role, which allows a park ranger to perform various duties professionally.
From the interview, valuable information and insights were gathered. Consequently, the researcher learned about the National Park Services, roles, responsibilities and the requirements of the occupation. Most importantly, the interviewee highlighted how education, training, law enforcement and interpretation of information were critical in the National Park Service.
Park rangers have significant roles to play in the National Park Service. They preserve and protect natural and cultural resources of the country to create recreational locations for both current and future generations (Farabee, 2003).
Park rangers promote stewardship by providing facts, valuable information and guidance to visitors. They interpret a wide variety of data and enforce the law to ensure the safety of the park, visitors and infrastructures.
The interviewee offered vital insights in real-life situations of a park ranger.
Connecting the Interview to Course Concepts
Commissioned park rangers are Federal Law Enforcement agents and stewards that must conduct their broad roles within the Federal and State laws at the National Park Service areas (National Park Service, 2014). Park rangers have the primary role of enforcing federal and state laws at the national park areas (Angus, 2002). These are their major roles as commissioned officers.
As the roles and responsibilities of park rangers become diverse, challenging and numerous, they need specialized training, education and law enforcement discretion. Today, many rangers investigate sophisticated crimes within the parks, including assaults (U.S. Rangers, Park Police Sustain Record Levels of Violence, 2004). At the same time, the interpretation of the Constitution, laws, regulations and other policies have become extremely liberal.
Consequently, academic and training programs should prepare park rangers to work in such dynamic environments effectively (Lynch, 2009). Therefore, extensive training in Federal Law Enforcement alongside scheduled in-service training programs could facilitate law enforcement and discretion abilities of park rangers.
Park rangers may suffer assault at the course of their duties (among the highest cases of assault on federal law enforcement officers) (Dalton, n.d). Consequently, it is imperative for park rangers to understand law enforcement issues and personal defense in their roles and act at their own discretion.
Effective Communication and Education
Park rangers meet many visitors and therefore, they must possess effective communication skills. Effective communication should also include interpretation and interpersonal skills.
Generally, park rangers offer a wide range of information to visitors, including practical tour guidance and lectures, as well as technical information about the park. Visitors may not readily understand such information and therefore, a park ranger must interpret it.
Thus, training in interpretive programs can enhance communication and facilitate effective dissemination of information. Effective interpretation of the federal and state laws enhances professionalism. In addition, park rangers are professionals who must understand the art of communication and presentation, reporting and information management.
In this regard, formal education, training and in-service courses could support and complement dynamic roles and responsibilities of park rangers. Moreover, education programs for rangers should focus on specific areas that aim to solve certain identified problems and emerging issues.
It is also imperative to note that experienced rangers develop study materials for educational purposes, which could meet specific needs of a local area (Dalton, n.d). Thus, they increase opportunities for learning and understanding activities at the National Park Service for junior rangers (Posegate, 2013).
Physical Fitness Training
Physical fitness training is a critical qualification criterion for all rangers. Park rangers, therefore, must observe top physical condition as required by the fitness guidelines.
Physical fitness training consists of several hours in formal education training programs for park rangers. Training may involve rapid and strenuous body exercises in which park rangers must perform extremely well (Marten, n.d).
In some instances, park rangers may submit their physical fitness performances regularly to ensure that they are active and can handle emergencies. Park rangers who fail to achieve physical fitness training requirements may be dismissed from their duties, miss promotion opportunities or could be fired from their jobs. Physical fitness training, therefore, is an imperative component of National Park Service training programs that park rangers must consider (Association of National Park Rangers, 2014).
This interview revealed that park rangers have varied and diverse roles and responsibilities in the parks in which they work. The recent changes in the park management, laws and regulations have resulted in highly specialized roles for rangers and managers. Park rangers, however, must conduct various tasks based on the prevailing situations with the aim of protecting parks for both current and future generations.
National Park Service plays a significant role in protecting the parks. At the same time, the agency has provided educational materials for park rangers, which reflect history, the profession and challenges that face the park service. Education and training programs play vital roles in solving such challenges. Therefore, park rangers must be highly educated individuals in order to tackle dynamic and emerging issues that affect the parks. Physical fitness, interpretation, effective communication and knowledge on law enforcement among others have continued to be fundamental courses for park rangers.
Albright, H., & Schenck, M. (1999). Creating the National Park Service: The Missing Years. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.
Angus, C. (2002). The Extraordinary Adirondack Journey of Clarence Petty. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press.
Association of National Park Rangers. (2014). Seasonal Law Enforcement Training Program.
Farabee, C. R. (2003). National Park Ranger: An American Icon. Lanham, MD: Roberts Rinehart Publishers.
Lynch, M. G. (2009). California State Park Rangers. Palm Springs, CA: Arcadia Publishing.
Mackintosh, B. (1999). The National Park Service: A Brief History.
Marten, T. (n.d). Park Ranger Schools.
National Park Service. (2014). Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Posegate, A. (2013, July 3). What it’s like to be a national park ranger. The Washington Post.
U.S. Rangers, Park Police Sustain Record Levels of Violence. (2004). Environmental News Service.