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State Park Jobs and Career Opportunities - Mississippi

Interview with a Park Ranger

By

Name: Terry Harp

Current Position: Park Ranger IV

How long have you been with Mississippi State Parks and in what capacity?
Three years full time and one year part time. My positions included part-time Ranger, Park Worker II and Park Ranger IV.

How did you become interested in working as a Park Ranger?
I applied for a part-time ranger position to see if I would like this type of work. I was enrolled as a full-time student at the time. I liked the work and stayed with it until I could get a full-time position.

Describe a typical day at your job.
(If there is no such thing as a typical day, then please tell us about your primary responsibilities and duties.)
There is really no such thing as a typical day. To summarize the duties/responsibilities, they include: meeting and greeting the public; making rounds through the park to ensure the safety and security of park patrons and facilities; inspecting all facilities to ensure proper condition and cleanliness; assisting in all aspects of park operations as needed; carrying out clerical work; housekeeping and maintenance, etc.

How many hours a week do you work in this position?
At least 40, but more when a situation arises requiring extra time.

What aspects of your job do you enjoy the most?
Meeting and greeting the public and providing a service they enjoy and will return to.

What do you find to be the greatest challenges of your job?
Having the patience to work within the shortages of funding, personnel and resources to accomplish goals set by management staff for the park.

What kind of training/schooling is required in your position?
Experience with computers is very helpful. Experience in dealing with the public is also helpful.

Is there any kind of training or general experience that you wish you had before taking your job?
I am satisfied with my training/experience upon job entry. Some level of law enforcement abilities beyond what we currently have would be very helpful (evaluated on a park to park basis). Training in drinking- and wastewater quality would also be helpful.

What are a few of the projects that you've been working on recently that have been the most interesting?

  • 2003 Halloween project at Tombigbee State Park, which was named "Fright Nights in the Park."
  • Assisting in planning and submitting request for RTF funding at Trace State Park, resulting in $160,000 of funding for new facilities (2006/2007)

If someone were interested in working in your position, what advice could you give them?
Be open to flexible scheduling and a variety of work situations. Also, be open to cross training in all aspects of park operations, including clerical, housekeeping, maintenance, food service, gate management, etc.

Please share any further thoughts you may have about working in the state park system:
Working in the park system presents its share of challenges. The rewards far outweigh the challenges, though, especially when first-time visitors express their delight in your state park and its facilities.

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