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Park Warden  What They Do

Just the Facts

Conservation Officers Career Video

Insider Info

dotPark warden refers to a variety of staff positions -- guides, resource managers, protection rangers and administrative staff. People also use the terms forest ranger, park police, conservationist and ranger.

dotSpecifically, park wardens may:

  • Assist with guided tours to promote awareness, understanding and an appreciation of nature
  • Inform visitors of the park facilities and supervise public visits
  • Advise visitors of park rules and regulations
  • Direct parking, control traffic and collect fees
  • Ensure endangered animals and plants are protected
  • Ensure park facilities and equipment are clean and properly maintained
  • Participate in search and rescue operations
  • Supervise and coordinate fire management, weed eradication and pest control
  • Investigate and report to supervisors on matters relating to park management

dotAnother major component of the job is patrolling waterways, roads and tracks to observe and report on the park environment. The ranger patrols parks and wildlife areas by horse, boat, bike, car, plane, skis or on foot.

Those in supervisory positions also provide daily supervision and training of park staff, oversee crews of general maintenance workers and contractors, attend to administrative and clerical duties, and prepare, review and implement reports. They're also responsible for management plans, development proposals and environmental impact assessments.

dotRangers also enforce wildlife rules and regulations, along with state, regional and city laws. Their duties are approximately 80 percent public relations, 10 percent law enforcement and 10 percent paperwork.

dotStudents interested in this field should have a strong interest in land management, natural conservation and science. They must enjoy working outdoors in all weather conditions. Be aware that most park wardens work on weekends and public holidays. They often live and work in remote areas with few modern conveniences.

dotAll park wardens have contact with the public, so they need to enjoy working with people. "Those thinking about this field need to be able to work under stress, be able to make decisions based on judgmental criteria, be able to climb and balance, and be able to handle animals with confidence and patience," says park warden Gerry Borden.

dotOne important requirement for this career is physical fitness. Due to the extended periods spent outdoors in wilderness areas, a park warden must have adequate endurance and strength.

They are often responsible for the safety of others, in addition to themselves. A physical disability would cause serious difficulties for someone wanting to enter this field of employment. It wouldn't bar someone from doing related activities, such as administration or education.

At a Glance

Supervise, manage and control the safety of people, animals and the environment in America's parks

  • You must enjoy being outside
  • Physical fitness is a requirement
  • You need to like working with people