Park forest managers (also known as Foresters) are responsible for planning, directing and administering programs and initiatives related to managing forested lands. Forest managers plan and oversee the implementation of such forestry management techniques as prescribed burning, thinning, harvesting and planting in order to maintain or improve the health and productivity of a forest.
Step by step guide to becoming a park forestry manager
What does a park forestry manager do?
If you want to become a forest manager or a forester, you will need the right education, accreditation, skill set and attitude. A career as a forest manager can be a highly rewarding one if you are interested in nature and the well being of the environment. Following is a list of some of the things you will do as a park forestry manager.
- Develop and deliver public education and awareness programs concerning forestry issues
- Manage the public involvement processes to identify best practices for forest land use
- Develop and implement plans for reforestation
- Oversee tree planting initiatives for areas where trees have been harvested or destroyed by forest fires
- Assess new foresting applications
- Advise government and industry officials on forest management issues
- Plan forest use activities such as grazing, recreational activities, timber harvesting, mining and others
- Perform assessments of damages caused by forest fires, disease, insects and pollution
What kind of skills are required?
If you’re considering a career as a forest ranger, a good starting point is obtaining a bachelor’s degree in the biological or environmental sciences with an emphasis on forestry and wildlife. Many colleges even offer degree programs in forestry. Moreover, some universities tailor programs to specific climatic conditions. For example, the University of Hawaii offers a program in tropical forestry. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a 2010 median salary of $33,390 for forest and conservation technicians, its designation for forest rangers. The BLS expects job opportunities in this area to fall by 1 percent between 2010 and 2020.
As a forest ranger, you need to have a practical instinct to realize vulnerable or dangerous situations, as well as a theoretical knowledge of forest species. You’ll have to recognize changes in a landscape caused by extreme weather or illegal human activities that might pose future dangers like fires, landslides, rock falls, or falling trees. You’ll also need to readily identify endangered trees and plants so you can take measures to protect them.Related Reading: What Degrees Are Needed to Be a Park Ranger?
Forest rangers work outdoors in all seasons and all weather conditions. You should be physically fitness and mentally alert at all times. This is not a job for anyone who suffers from extreme hay fever or animal allergies. Typically, you’ll have to pass physical agility tests and obtain medical clearance before you’re hired.
The working environment for a forest range is usually in remote and isolated areas, albeit having a central office or base. As such, you might spend much of your day working alone or with minimum supervision. You must be self-motivated and have the mental ability to remain alert over long periods without a lot of human interaction. This is not a career for someone who craves company and conversation at work. Nevertheless, as a ranger, you must know how to maintain a diplomatic and polite attitude when you do deal with the public.
You’ll have to learn traditional survival skills as well as all aspects of modern mobile communications. Survival skills, such as building a shelter, starting a safe fire, foraging for non-poisonous foods, evading dangerous wildlife, and nighttime orientation, are still necessary for those times when all modern communications fail. You also might have to demonstrate these skills to visiting school or adult groups.
Forest rangers are essentially law enforcement officers — and most of them are armed. You’ll need to know how to handle firearms, use them when necessary, and understand all aspects of firearm safety. However, some states, such as Maine, do not arm forest rangers.
- Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
- Seek out seasonal park ranger jobs and volunteer opportunities
- Determine what type of park ranger you would like to be
- Get familiar with the park system
- Apply for the job