Last updated: September 30, 2016
Behind the Scenes: Life as Park Ranger –Lacey Thomas
In American society a common conversation opener is asking what someone does for a living. Teachers often hear, "You must love kids!" after they answer.Doctors might hear, "Would you look at ____ on my ____?"When I tell people I'm a park ranger, almost invariable I hear, "That's the coolest job ever!"
It's true.Being a park ranger is a pretty cool job. You get to move to and live in exciting places. You meet people from all over the world. You gain an array of knowledge that has the ability to make you a Jeopardy! champion.*
However, it's not all fun and games. Being a ranger requires you to be quick on your feet, adaptable, and possibly most important of all…patient. Being personable and resilient in the face of challenges are also important characteristics. Rangers are called on to complete a variety of different tasks every day. Those duties fluctuate not only each day but from park to park as well.Some skills are useful at every unit. Others are not so much. For instance, being able to answer the same questions over and over again at the information desk is useful everywhere. The ability to predict geysers hasn't been all that helpful since I left Yellowstone National Park.
People love to ask what a typical day consists of here at the cave. Like many jobs, there is no such thing as a "typical day." Some days I come to work and watch hundreds of thousands of Brazilian free-tailed bats exit the cave to begin their nightly foraging. Some days I come to work, teach people caving fundamentals, and then crawl through the cave with them.Some days I come to work and attend trainings and fill out paperwork. Those days aren't exciting, but they are necessary.
This is where I'm calling on you. What behind the scenes information would you like to know?Is there anything you've ever wondered about being a park ranger? Please leave your questions in the comments or send them to our Facebook page. I'll do my absolute best to answer any and all questions submitted. If it's a technical question, I'll send it to the resident expert and get back to you.
Over the years and through the parks, one thing has never change: people are the best part of this job. This is just one small way of paying you back from giving me the privilege of being a National Park Service Ranger.
*Chris Wonderly of the National Park Service's Southeast Utah Group was a two day Jeopardy! Champion in 2015.