Resource Education Ranger at Great Smoky Mountains National Park
“I am forever glad to have a job that I immensely enjoy.”
How long have you been working in park services?
Over four years.
Describe the park that you work at. What led you there?
My current position is a resource education ranger in Cades Cove, a scenic and historic site in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Smokies is America’s most visited national park, eclipsing 14 million visits last year. It is home to some of the greatest biodiversity of any site in our nation. The park also presents an extensive collection of 90 historic structures, including houses, barns, mills, churches, and schools.
What are your favorite aspects of this position?
Getting to interact with the public, including you, the reader! I love being able to provide educational programs. For example, my Creek Critters program takes place within our picnic area in Cades Cove. Multiple times a week, I’m able to scrounge and find aquatic insects, salamanders, crayfish, and other creatures with the help of visitors. Learning with our senses and physically being able to find these critters can help provide a bond with our natural resources. More times than not, the kids and adults are finding more species than I can keep up with!
What are the challenges?
There are many people who like to approach, and sometimes harass, our wildlife. Within the Smokies, it is a federal regulation to stay 50 yards or further from wildlife. When a ‘bear jam’ develops, I arrive to facilitate the movement of traffic, while providing education to anyone that is viewing wildlife.
Any memorable experiences you’d like to share?
I proposed to my wife within the park. I stopped by the Sugarlands Visitor Center to ask about a nice trail nearby. The ranger I found at the desk is now my current supervisor at Cades Cove. My wife and I were able to enjoy a moment that will forever be in our hearts and minds because of the informative advice from a helpful ranger.
What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a career in parks?
Chase your passion! There are many professions and positions at the local, state, and federal levels for you to have a career within a park. I am forever glad to have a job that I immensely enjoy.