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To: Unhappy Forest and Park Rangers: You can get out of these jobs if you follow my advice

Updated on June 26, 2014

Friendly Rangers are always there to help you

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Girls can be good Rangers

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My early encounter with a Park Ranger

The first time I met a Park Ranger was in 1983, in a State of Mississippi-owned campground outside of Gulfport. My wife, daughter and I were on our yearly-week’s vacation. We were in the process of learning just how rough it was sleeping in a department-store tent that sleeps five could be.

Sure the lure of the Holiday Inn’s and Best Western’s with their wide, soft beds, in-room mini-frige, and that oh so cool air conditioning was tempting, but memories compared to the money (we saved) in my wife’s purse came in a lagging third place. Besides for $10.00 a night and no check-out time made camping in an almost-vacant campground worth all of the sweating, using flashlights, mosquito battles and no television worth the sacrifice.

The Park Ranger’s name was Tim Vickery, who could have easily been “Mean” Joe Greene’s twin or maybe Andre, The Giant’s bashful little brother who he never talked about. Either way, Tim was huge. And by huge I mean muscular, well-proportioned, tall and business-looking. No nonsense about Tim. I learned that valuable lesson quick.

Rangers help people in all sorts of ways

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Ranger John Francis Smith (originally voiced by Don Messick) is a fictional character in the Yogi Bear cartoon series.

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Tim made a "big" impression on me

Until I met this Park Ranger, the closest I had ever come to meeting one of these guys was seeing “Ranger Smith,” on the fabled, “Yogi Bear Show.” I thought that all Park Rangers were like Smith. But I “did” know that all bears were not like “Yogi.”

As Pam, my wife, and daughter, Angie, unloaded our tent and other camping items, I said to Tim who was sidling-up to us, “Nice place you have here.” And I chuckled, hoping Tim would chuckle with me.

He didn’t. “Not many people stay here thanks to the state cutting-back on our budget, but I am glad to have you,” Tim replied staring down at me. Literally.

I asked the price, paid, and Tim wrote me a receipt and wished us a safe night and walked away and from behind reminded me of a Sasquatch. Honest to God. He was that huge.

Rangers help keep their areas free of rubbish and troublemakers

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A Ranger has to be able to deliver interesting lectures

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Rangers get to work in beautiful places

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Camping was fun in "the day"

When Tim walked away, we were so busy setting up the tent that we didn’t notice that the sun was setting. This next part is something out of a classic, black and white horror film: No lights in the showers, bathrooms, or around the campground. Yikes! Didn’t Tim not realize that there were dangerous, unknown creatures, possibly Satan himself hiding in those thick pine woods? The thought probably had never crossed his mind and with his size, the creatures would have died of fear just by looking at him.

But with some Southern-ingenuity and love of God, we “powered-through” these minor obstacles. But one thing kept nagging me: Tim never gave us an emergency number if we needed to call him. But then I would realize over and over, similar to Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day,” there were absolutely no telephones in the campground, and this was before cell phones were “the” things to have. I suppose Tim thought that anyone who was cheap enough to stay in his campground must have a carrier pigeon stashed somewhere for communications purposes.

But in all honesty, we had a restful night listening to “Mother Nature’s Orchestra,”—crickets, frogs, and breeds of birds who love singing at night. The next morning as the sun was breaking through the thick fog, “we” three people were the only souls in this huge campground. I thought about what Tim had told us about their budget being hacked in two by the State of Mississippi, but still, we made it. And I believe that other brave campers could have made it too. I bet all of those people who didn’t patronize this campground were all wimps.

A Ranger is a friend to everyone

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She's not a model, but a Park Ranger

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Being a Park or Forest Ranger would make a great career for young people

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Education needed for Rangers

Undergraduate and Graduate Education: Major study -- natural resource management, natural sciences, earth sciences, history, archeology, anthropology, park and recreation management, law enforcement/police science, social sciences, museum sciences, business administration, public administration, behavioral sciences, sociology, or other closely related subjects pertinent to the management and protection of natural and cultural resources. Course work in fields other than those specified may be accepted if it clearly provides applicants with the background of knowledge and skills necessary for successful job performance in the position to be filled.

Sometimes, even Rangers get weary

For a few months, I had my heart set on an “easy” job with benefits, so I looked into being a Game Warden. That dream went up in smoke too when I learned that sometimes a Game Warden has to arrest hunters who do not have a hunting license and some can be rather rowdy and like to fight. That left me out of the running.

So in 2014, I still think about Forest Rangers and their counterpart, Park Rangers, often. And the same thought keeps surfacing: “Are these guys and gals really happy in their work?” I mean, with all of the Federal and State budget-butchering, down-sizing and living in daily-fear of the “Red Tape” and “Bureaucracy” monsters, all may not be happy in the ranks of the guys and gals in green. They are human after all.

Never fear. I have just the thing for these overworked, underpaid, and seldom-appreciated employees who keep our Federal and State Parks running and kept in a peaceful existence and our beautiful forestlands free of dangerous insects and the demon: Forest fires.

These particular men and women who did work so hard to be a Forest or Park Ranger, can “turn the tables,” and do things in ways not found in the Ranger Handbook. Yeah! Do things their own way. Yeah! Rogue Rangers. I love it. Hey, this would be a great title for film produced by legendary Stephen Spielberg, starring Woody Harrelson as “Darryl Goodberry,” college drop-out, car thief and a hapless alcoholic who turned his life around by simply dedicating himself to being the best Park Ranger in his state. Something like that.

Any or all of these things below will work because even Park and Forest Rangers have supervisors, so someone whom is very contentious will report them for doing the things below and before you know it . . .Boom! They are relieved of their Ranger duties and free to pursue other jobs that have some excitement now and again.

Rangers have to stay in good shape

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Rangers have to deal with all types of situations

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A Forest Ranger is responsible for Smokey, the Bear

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Smokey's message is never to be taken lightly

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Some Rangers get to work while on horseback

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Kids learn a lot from our Rangers

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Rangers are great ambassadors for the U.S.A.

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Rangers, pay attention

Okay, Park and Forest Rangers, you all need to . . .

  • Start showing-up late at least three days a week. Your supervisor(s) cannot tolerate tardiness. Remember this.
  • Stop shaving and allow that “Five O’ Clock” shadow to blossom into a Grizzly Adams beard. But check your Employee Handbook first to see that wearing of beards is not acceptable.
  • Spit often when you are delivering a lecture to park guests who want to learn about “Why Buffalo Bill Loved Gopher Stew.”
  • If you work in a military park such as Shiloh Battleground, Tennessee, accidentally fire one or more of the historic cannons that are sitting on the park grounds. After each firing, shrug your shoulders and say, “Oopsie.”
  • Intentionally-offend a few senior citizens when they ask you for directions to the rest rooms. Snap, “Can’t you people find anything?” at them and walk away.
  • Take extra-long lunch breaks. Example: If you are accustomed to having a hour for lunch, take two and a half hours which includes a nap out in the open and listening to rock music on your earbuds.
  • When new groups of visitors arrive at your park or campground, intentionally be clumsy and cause the table with all of the various maps and pamphlets about other tourist sites to turn over while you skip and run wild as if you didn’t care, and of course, you don’t.
  • Get yourself a butterfly net and let visitors watch you run after imaginary butterflies.
  • Make a lot of mistakes in your lecture about Pre-historic animals that once roamed “your” park and show drawings and computer-generated cartoons of these animals who are all smiling or eating an ice cream cone.
  • And when someone in this group you are lecturing, catches you in a mistake and starts to ask you a question, stop all at once and growl, “Who’s delivering this lecture, you or me?”
  • Go to your supervisor’s office and without asking, clean-out the petty cash box. If the supervisor asks you what you are doing, reply, “I need to eat and my check being garnished for my ex-wife in our divorce settlement, I need to do what I need to do.”
  • Although there are signs everywhere that say, “$12.00 per night for tents,” you charge $24.00 a family and if they object and point to the signs with “$12.00 per night for tents,” act really upset and say, “You people never learn. Those are the old signs. President Obama allowed the Park Service to raise the rates and if you do not like it, leave.”
  • If you are in charge of a military park, let visitors see you with a shovel in the middle of the grounds digging for war souvenirs. If a supervisor tries to reprimand you, just smile and wave to the huge crowd of onlookers that have gathered out of curiosity to see what happens to you.
  • Drink beer in front of people visiting your campgrounds and even spill it all over your shirt and laugh about it.
  • Whistle at every pretty married woman who checks into the campground.
  • Stop wearing your shirt on the job. Just wear your officially-issued Ranger knee-length shorts, but instead of your regular shoes, wear sandals like the beatniks in the late 50’s wore.
  • Go wild and drive your officially-issued Ranger pick-up truck over the campgrounds yelling, “Quiet Riot Rocks,” and do dough-nuts throwing dirt all over the campers.
  • If you are a Forest Ranger and you are experiencing a dry spell, let tourists see you playing with firecrackers, sparklers and Roman candles near a dry patch of Pine needles.
  • When people visit your Forest rest area for a quiet family picnic, without saying a word, take everything they have on the table and put it in a sack with this explanation: “I need this for my afternoon break.”

Good luck, former Forest and Park Rangers in your new jobs at the “RoboWash,” the fastest carwash in town.

Coming soon . . .”Things That High School Principals Do Not Want You to Know.” Don’t miss it.

Schwarzenegger becomes Ranger

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(from left) U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, Schwarzenegger, and Smokey Bear – after a ceremony naming the former California governor as an honorary forest ranger.

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    • profile image

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago

      Hey, that made me laugh also.

    • profile image

      sheilamyers 

      4 years ago

      ROFL @ Kenneth. Exactly.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, sheilamyers,

      Wise move, not going to Ranger work.

      I can see it now.

      You: May I help you sir?

      Sir: Ms. Ranger, where might I find the outhouses?

      You: Outside! Where else would you find an OUT house?

      Right?

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      grand old lady (who is NOT old),

      LOL. Nice comment. I love it. And I will let you and others wonder about what you said about me being taken seriously or not.

      Peace.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, Graham,

      Thanks, my friend for your critique on this piece.

      She was cute that, huh?

      Thanks too, for your votes.

      Have a great day.

    • old albion profile image

      Graham Lee 

      4 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Kenneth. Very interesting Kenneth. I enjoyed it, we do not have Rangers to the same extent in the uk. Your photographs again add so much. I particularly smiled at the young lady with the 'Big hat'.

      Voted up and all.

      Graham.

    • profile image

      sheilamyers 

      4 years ago

      For a while I wanted to be a park ranger. After working customer service in a couple of different stores, I decided even being a park ranger was out of the question for me. When people get rude with me, I get rude back. I know I shouldn't, but sometimes I can't help it. If I were a park ranger and someone made me angry, I'd probably really end up doing some of those things on your list.

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      4 years ago from Philippines

      Lol. I must say you are getting better at this all the time, although I don't know if this is a good or a bad thing. I imagine someone may take you seriously and follow your advice. But for me, laughter is, as the saying goes, the best medicine.

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