20 Jul JR. Ranger Today, Law Enforcement Ranger Tomorrow
“I promise to protect Rocky Mountain National Park and all my neighborhood parks!” These are my favorite words out of the Jr. Ranger pledge here at Rocky Mountain National Park. Every time a child fills out his or her Jr. Ranger Book, they come in the Ranger Station to earn their badge. My job as an Interpretive Ranger has been to review the Booklets with children and award them their badge. It has been an amazing experience for me to have children pledge an oath to protect the environment, and become responsible stewards of conservation
Before this season I had my sights set on a career in law enforcement or policy with the National Park Service. Now, a month into my internship, I have realized that I really enjoy working with kids. I am considering getting my teaching credentials to work with children in the future. I think it is important that we plant as many seeds as we can in the minds of today’s Junior Rangers. Sometimes all it takes is a simple sticker or stamp to inspire a kid to want to come back to the park.
While working a shift at the Ranger Station, it is not uncommon to have visits every 10 minutes from children who have finished their Jr. Ranger books. Sometimes they are very nervous and won’t speak to the Ranger behind the counter; I totally understand because that was me growing up, I was very shy. I have learned to adjust to the different levels of enthusiasm in the children that come in. Some kids are happy to talk to a Ranger, while others may be more shy and need an extra sticker as incentive.
I feel really lucky to be that Ranger behind the counter passing on the message of conservation to the children who visit the park. These Children are the future generations who will ultimately become the next law enforcement, research, and interpretation personnel of the National Park Service.