Sunday, May 15, 2016


In three days I begin my journey to Puerto Rico for the summer. But instead of just flying there from the east coast I'm going to road trip to L.A with some of the other ProRangers and will then fly to PR from there.

If all goes according to plan we will get to hit up some great spots on the way and meet new people.

Tentative List of Stops:
Fredericksburg » Louisville » St. Louis » Kansas City » Denver » Bryce Canyon » Zion » Grand Canyon » Phoenix » Joshua Tree » L.A. » San Juan

We are going to be heavily documenting the trip. If you want to stay up to date with our trip you can follow me on Instagram (NickFitzke) where I will be using the hashtag #RoadToRico on all related posts.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Announcing the new SLETP website at Temple University

 SLETP at Temple University
Temple University Criminal Justice Training Programs (professional training center for federal, state, and local law enforcement) in partnership with University College (academic and administrative center for the ProRanger Philadelphia Certificate program) is proud to announce the launch of a completely new website for the Seasonal Law Enforcement Training Program, or SLETP, as it is commonly referred.  The next SLETP Cohort starts August 15, 2016 and graduates December 19, 2016.  Temple’s SLETP is a full-time, federally-accredited 18-week program offered at the Temple University Ambler Campus.  The SLETP curriculum consists of more than 700 hours of professional instruction designed to prepare and enable men and women to obtain employment with the National Park Service as a seasonal law enforcement ranger.  Successful candidates are awarded a certificate of completion from Temple University SLETP and the National Park Service-Law Enforcement Training Center (LETC) during a ceremony showcasing the graduates’ achievements.

The new SLETP website design is the creative work of Paul J. Muller, Senior Web Developer and Designer for University College.  Mr. Muller’s professional experience and background in design transformed the old site into a clean, modern layout with an emphasis on user experience and accessibility to information.  Also contributing to this endeavor, Ms. Christie Willard, Assistant Director-CJTP and Physical Fitness Coordinator-SLETP lent her expertise on developing specific content including the physical efficiency battery (PEB) as well as the redesigned SLETP application.  The online application, which is now live and accepting applications for the next SLETP cohort, was designed and deployed using DestinyOne Solutions led by University College Associate Vice-Provost Nicole M. Westrick and David M. Benson, Associate Director, CE Systems.  Ms. Westrick and Mr. Benson, and their team, engaged with Criminal Justice Training Programs staff for several months on the new application’s structure, elements, and processes.  The SLETP was a member of the third cohort of non-credit, continuing education programs at Temple University to undergo implementation in DestinyOne.

Candidates submitting an application for the Fall-2016 SLETP (Class dates are August 15, 2016 - December 19, 2016) will benefit directly from the recently expanded and revised National Park Service curriculum.  The curricula includes additional instruction in visitor and resource protection, emergency vehicle operations, use of force concepts and skills, criminal investigation and evidence collection, continuing case preparation and courtroom presentation, physical fitness and nutrition, communication skills and scenario-based training. 

With an increased demand from the National Park Service for qualified candidates for seasonal law enforcement positions, now is great time to consider applying to the SLETP.  Enrollment at Temple’s SLETP is comprised of up to twenty-six students in each class.  While attending the SLETP at the Temple Ambler Campus, there are numerous off-campus housing opportunities for students within our surrounding communities.  Since graduating the first SLETP class in August-2011, Temple has welcomed students from as close as New Jersey to as far away as Hawaii.  Temple is a Yellow-Ribbon school, and military veterans may be able to apply educational benefits to offset tuition and uniform costs depending on their eligible service as determined by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

 SLETP Website at Temple University
Temple University welcomes and strongly encourages applications from women, minority groups, veterans, and under-represented groups.  It is the vision of Temple University SLETP to offer the highest caliber law enforcement training that prepares well qualified candidates who are reflective of the values and the diversity of communities throughout the U.S. to be professional first responders so that staff, visitor, and park resources are protected now and in the future.  If you aspire to protect and conserve the grandest natural, cultural and historical resources this country has to offer, we look forward to receiving your application.  Your career as a seasonal law enforcement ranger awaits!

For more information about Temple University or the next SLETP cohort (August 15, 2016 - December 19, 2016), please contact or, or call the SLETP at 215-204-7930 or 267-468-8600.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

2016 Philly Flower Show

Working the the flower show this year was definitely an interesting experience. Growing up, I was never particularly interested in flowers. But I've grown to appreciate them a little more with my chance to staff Temple's exhibit. The theme this year for Temple was Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site. I didn't know any of this prior to staffing the exhibit this year so here goes..

Hopewell Furnace is a national historic site in Berks County, PA. It is one of the first iron plantations in the U.S. during the Industrial Revolution during the mid to late 1700s and 1800s. This iron plantation is mostly known for laying the groundwork, along with other sites, for making
America the industrial giant that it is today.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Firearms Safety

Monthly Activity: Firearms Safety

In February, Ranger Fernandez illustrated the importance of firearms safety and taught us how to properly handle the firearms we will be using in the future. Being able to properly use our weapons and officer safety are critically important. The continual exposure to this knowledge reinforces the skills that we are developing.

Defense & Control Tactics

Defense & Control Tactics 

Thank you to Independence National Historic Park and Ranger McLeod for hosting our monthly activity this past December. Ranger McLeod taught us how to properly handcuff an individual and the necessary steps we must take to maintain control of the situation. We were also introduced to defense tactics, which is pertinent to officer safety. We ran through a physical drill to get our adrenaline pumping, then had to defend ourselves from a potential threat and handcuff an individual. It was a great experience to simulate how adrenaline will effect me in the field. I am appreciative to be exposed to this material prior to the academy.

My American Dream: A Journey to the National Park Service

I am around the age where I get asked the question, “What are you doing with your life?” on a pretty regular basis. When I say that I want to become a park ranger people are usually surprised and say, “How in the world did you decide you wanted to do that?”. I get this question a lot and understand it may not be the first career people come up with off the top of their heads but for me the NPS has always played a large role in my life.

I grew up in southern California outside of San Diego. Because of this I had access to some of the most beautiful parks and monuments on the west coast. I can remember my camping trips in the Mojave Desert the best. These trips brought my family together and I always looked forward to them.

When my parents wanted to move back to the east coast they decided a classic family road trip was in order. So we took a two week trip driving across the country and on the way got to stop at some of the most iconic parks out there. Grand Canyon, Zion, Dinosaur, Mesa Verde, Mount Rushmore, etc. This trip cemented my investment in nature and all the other amazing things the NPS has to offer.

 My younger brother and I enjoying Mesa Verde and Dinosaur NM.

It was these experiences and fond memories that prompted me to look into a career with the NPS. When I was looking for Universities to apply to I stumbled upon Temple. I had never heard of the school but saw that they had an internship program for future park rangers (ProRanger) and decided that this was what I wanted to do.

But this story was not without heartbreak and turmoil. After getting accepted to Temple I quickly prepared to apply to the ProRanger program. But alas that year the program would go on hiatus. Disappointed I decided to stick out my college career at Temple.

To my surprise during my senior year the program was back and looking for applicants. I jumped at the opportunity with renewed vigor and things looked promising. But being a competitive program I was worried about my chances of getting in.

Once again my dreams were dashed as I was the 13th picked while there was only 12 spots available. But I didn’t just give up or just walk away. I let the program managers know how much it meant to me to be a part of the program and asked them to keep me in the loop.

Luckily for me someone dropped out early on and I was ready to fill their spot. This journey has been an emotional roller-coaster but I am excited for the future and grateful for the opportunities I've been given. I have learned that you shouldn’t give up on your dreams even if all the odds are stacked against you.

So why do I want to become a park ranger?

Because the National Parks are a part of who I am.

Find Your Park: Spring Break

We are well into the Spring semester here at Temple University and our Spring Break just concluded. Classes have resumed and we are eagerly awaiting our Summer 2016 park assignments. For break, some students returned home, some worked, and others went on fancy vacations with beaches and hot weather. While planning what to do for Spring Break, my roommates and I were searching for a unique trip with a change of pace from North Philadelphia, while trying not to break the bank. Our answer? Lets explore some National Parks.

And south on I-95 we went...

The top of Brooks Hill
Monocacy National Battlefield
The Worthington House
Monocacy National Battlefield

I couldn't drive through Maryland without stopping at Monocacy National Battlefield. It was great to show my roommates and fellow ProRanger John Hesdon where I spent my summer, and it was interesting to see how the landscape changed through the months. After spending the day hiking around the park, seeing some old friends, and exploring downtown Frederick, we were excited to leave for our next destination the following morning.

Hawksbill Summit
Shenandoah National Park

For anyone who believes that you need to travel far out west to see the big and beautiful national parks, I encourage them to visit Shenandoah National Park. The views were breathtaking, the hikes were challenging, and the fresh air and environment reassured that we made the right choice for our Spring Break destination.

The Appalachian Trail was covered with ice and
made for an adventurous hike. 

John and I enjoying the view at SNP

Visiting Shenandoah only added to the anticipation of finding out where my next destination will be, and I am thrilled to continue on my ProRanger adventure. I encourage everyone reading this to go out and Find Your Park like we did.