A park ranger is a member of law enforcement who works in an American National or State Park. Park rangers are employed either by the National Parks System (NPS) or by the State Park System for the state in which they work. This career is incredibly varied, and it's a great choice for someone who enjoys working with people, experiencing the outdoors, and conserving natural and cultural resources. Civilians should also remember that in the United States, park rangers are treated just like other law enforcement personnel such as police, with the authority to cite, ticket, or arrest lawbreakers, and offenses against park rangers are taken very seriously.
A working park ranger can work in a number of branches of the Parks Service. Rangers contribute to park maintenance, emergency services, law enforcement, and park education on a daily basis. Some rangers may specialize in something like guarding parks as law enforcement officers, while others make themselves more generally available to assist park visitors with a range of needs. In order to become a park ranger, someone must typically hold a bachelor's degree and attend ranger training.
In terms of park maintenance, rangers help to cut and clear trails, maintain park roads, and work on park structures. A park ranger can oversee a work team or work independently, depending on the type of maintenance involved. Specially trained rangers also respond to forest and structure fires in parks. A park ranger who works in emergency services for the park can respond to emergencies ranging from broken bones to missing hikers.
Since parks are designed to conserve cultural and environmental resources for Americans, a big part of a park ranger's job is conservation and education. Many parks have educational areas where park rangers can educate the public and conduct demonstrations which encompass everything from fire response to traditional crafts. Park rangers also protect the parks they work in by citing people for things like littering and damaging the grounds and buildings of a park. They may also work with game wardens to crack down on poaching and illegal harvesting of animal species.
Some people may refer to park rangers as park or forest wardens, rather than rangers. In most of the United States, wardens are not the same thing as park rangers, although park rangers and game wardens may work together on occasion. Like other law enforcement agencies, the ranger service has a training academy and a ranking system to keep its members organized.