Tuesday, March 8, 2016

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.

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