Proceedings of the First Park Naturalists’ Training Conference, November 1 to 30, 1929


No papers were prepared for these two last days of the Conference. Time was devoted to intensive discussion of administrative problems, particularly such as are common to most parks. The following summary is briefed from the minutes of the meetings.

Standards for the Selection of Ranger Naturalists: (Discussion by George C. Ruhle.)

There should be some variation in standards in the selection of ranger naturalists. Although our work with the public usually requires that a man be especially competent to guide, lecture, and meet the public, certain members of our staff may be chosen because they are specialists in lines of work in which the park requires research.

Ordinarily the ranger naturalist should have a well rounded scientific background. The following three factors, however, may to some degree offset technical knowledge:

(1) Ability to learn
(2) Industry
(3) Love of subject.

The ranger naturalist should also have a personality which is pleasing to the public. In lecturing, nature guiding, and announcing various activities this quality is almost indispensable. People will often follow a ranger naturalist if he has a pleasing personality where under ordinary circumstances they would not have contemplated the trip.

The ranger naturalist should have the ability of distinguishing in the field the interesting from uninteresting and the important from the unimportant — or he should at least be able to make things interesting which would be meaningless to the untrained visitor.

If the ranger naturalist likes people he will succeed very well providing he has the other necessary requirements.

Industry is absolutely necessary. The ranger naturalist must be willing to work any length of time, as the summer season is always so rushed that it is practically impossible to arrange for definite hours of service. Public contacts represent really hard work if the ranger naturalist endeavors to throw himself into the work to the best of his abilities.

Recruiting the Ranger Naturalist: General Discussion

It was agreed that the School of Field Natural History should be a fruitful source of recruiting ranger naturalists providing the men have chosen to take the work offered because of their love for the subject and not merely because they are preparing for a ranger naturalist job.

Mr. Yeager outlined several methods of selecting ranger naturalists:

(1) Selection of men from applications received.
(2) Selection of men who apply personally during the season.
(3) Sending of form letters to universities stating qualifications and asking for recommendations.
(4) Selection of candidates from application list on file at Educational Headquarters.
(5) Selection of specially qualified applicants for ranger positions, from chief rangers’ application files.
(6) Selection from among students of the School of Field Natural History.

It was agreed that the last method may be best because the park naturalist will have the opportunity of learning each man’s qualifications and also of giving special training in the subjects required. Also, the candidate will have had preliminary training in ranger naturalist activities such as guiding, lecturing, etc.