Some rangers specialize in teaching people, especially children, about the wonders of nature. Generally these are called "Interpretive Rangers" or Naturalists. Courses in biology, botany, ecology, education and communications will help in this career field.
Work in the outdoors and make a difference!
Positions are usually in government agencies or non-profit organizations. Many people begin with a seasonal position to gain experience and get a feel for the variety of opportunities available. These positions often do not offer the full range of benefits such as insurance and retirement, but they do offer greater flexibility and experience that can lead to a better position later on.
Summer seasonal positions at Ozark National Scenic Riverways, and other national parks across America, are typically are advertised on the USAJOBS site in the winter months. Permanent positions open periodically and may also be found on the USAJOBS site. Seasonal positions generally run from early May through Labor Day.
National Park Service
US Forest Service:
US Fish & Wildlife Service:
Bureau of Land Management:
USAJOBs (all Federal openings):
State of Missouri:
(Use a search engine to investigate opportunities with other states as well as major cities. Usually they will be with a department of Natural Resources, Conservation, Game and Fish, Forestry or State Parks.)
Missouri Department of Conservation:
Missouri Department of Natural Resources:
There are many conservation and environmental organizations that provide both paid positions and volunteer internships. Investigate organizations that work on issues of concern to you. The Nature Conservancy is one non-profit that owns large areas of land within the Current River Watershed. Nature Conservancy:
HOW TO GET WORK EXPERIENCE
They say you can't get a job without experience and you can't get experience without a job. Spending a season or two volunteering will help you get that experience. It's an investment in your own future.
Volunteer Organizations and Opportunities:
National Park Service Volunteers: (there are volunteer opportunities in national parks across the US.)
Student Conservation Association: (the SCA offers a program to help pay off student loans with Americorps grants)
Concession Jobs: Sometimes you can get a job in a hotel or even gas station in national park like Yellowstone. Then you can learn about parks, get to know people, maybe volunteer on your days off while still earning a modest income. Check out www.coolworks.com for ideas.
There are many fields of study that can lead to great outdoor careers. Among them are Conservation, Wildlife Management, Fisheries, Biology, Education, Public Administration, Law Enforcement, Botany, Entomology, Communications and others. Many schools offer these programs. Keep in mind that while "Forestry" sounds good, the National Park Service generally does not harvest timber in the parks. Forestry courses may lead to great jobs in the Forest Service, BLM and state agencies however.
For a list of schools offering 8 week natural resource law enforcement programs click here. Even if you don't think you want to go into Law Enforcement, these programs can give you a great introduction and background, and may be more affordable if a two or four year program is beyond your reach.
For a list of schools offering programs in Interpretation (Naturalist), click here. Some are two year, some four, and some offer one year certification programs.
"Find what you love, then find a way to get paid for it." - Connie Toops, park ranger and freelance writer