If you’re a big fan of Oklahoma’s myriad nature offerings, being a park ranger might be the perfect job for you. Constantly outdoors and basking in the Okie wilderness, the role is a truly wonderful one that has wide-reaching effects.
But what kind of expertise would you need for the job?
“Communication skills are key,” says Capt. Ranger Steven Fisher, based in Checotah. “We get the opportunity to interact with an array of different people. A number of rangers work alone during their shifts, so rangers really have to be squared away on the law enforcement side of things to keep the public safe.”
According to ranger Brittany Penix, “it is desirable that a candidate has knowledge of safety and security techniques, first aid, public relations, report writing, and the ecological and cultural heritage of Oklahoma.”
A typical day for a ranger runs the gamut, from patrols around forests to assisting law enforcement.
“We also make it a priority every shift to take the time to be a resource for park guests, providing directions, locations of the best fishing spots, as well as anything that may aid them in their visit,” says Penix.
Fisher continues: “Honestly, the best part of our day is the kids camping in the park. They are always excited to see us and it’s always great to interact with them.”
Common responsibilities also cover a wide array.
“No. 1 would be to keep the public safe,” says Fisher. “Not only do we enforce state laws and park regulations, we act as kind of a traveling information center for our guests.”
Patrols, far and away the most frequent activity for rangers, play a huge role in the day-to-day.
“This is where you get to know the people you’re tasked with serving and protecting, and how you find individuals that are engaging in criminal activities,” says Penix. “Patrol includes talk with people, performing traffic stops and investigations, making arrests, educating individuals on the rules and regulations of the park and answering calls for service.”
While on the job as a ranger, you’re bound to experience some fun, fascinating and even bizarre situations.
‘“I love to camp and I love the outdoors, so it’s really interesting to see how other people camp,” says Fisher. “We get people in tents cooking hot dogs and s’mores over campfires. Then there are people in RVs that have full kitchens and televisions, who are cooking gourmet meals and watching football games. So I guess the people who enjoy our state parks are the most interesting thing I get to see during my shift.”
Penix agrees, saying she enjoys the diverse set of people with whom she gets to interact.
“I had the unique opportunity of meeting a couple who were from Germany and were camping their way across the United States,” she says. “We connected over the similarities of our law enforcement jobs, despite us working half a world away from each other. Without this job, I wouldn’t have met so many of the amazing people that I have, who have such unique stories and interesting backgrounds that I had never been exposed to before.”