Forum Index > Trail Talk > Olympic National Park Welcomes New Chief Ranger Scott Jacobs 11/16/20
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PostMon Nov 16, 2020 4:19 pm 
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Monday November 16, 2020 12;18 PST

Olympic National Park News Release

Olympic National Park Welcomes New Chief Ranger Scott Jacobs


PORT ANGELES, WA:  Olympic National Park welcomes Scott Jacobs as the new Chief Ranger. Ranger Jacobs is coming to Olympic from the National Park Service Law Enforcement Training Center (LETC) on the Georgia coast, where he served as the National Program Manager for the Field Training and Evaluation Program (FTEP). The FTEP is an agency-wide collaboration that delivers real-world law enforcement training and experience to recent academy graduates.

“Scott has been entrusted with the care of a national program, and ensuring rangers are thoroughly prepared to do their job at any park,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum. “Scott’s leadership and expertise will be a great asset to the park and our local communities.”

Scott began his National Park Service career in the late 1990s.  As a seasonal Visitor Use Assistant at Rocky Mountain National Park, he quickly found a passion for public service which motivated him to a career in law enforcement. His prior duty stations include Boston National Historic Park, Big Bend National Park, Mesa Verde National Park, Yosemite National Park, and most recently, the NPS Law Enforcement Training Center.

“Olympic National Park is truly extraordinary,” said Scott. “I’m honored to be given the opportunity to join the park’s outstanding team and partners to support our shared mission to conserve the diverse ecosystems, dynamic landscapes, and awe-inspiring experiences of this special place.”

Scott is moving to the Olympic Peninsula from coastal Georgia with his wife and two children. In their leisure time, Scott and his family enjoy outdoor activities, hiking, and spending time in national parks.

Ranger Jacobs began his new duties at the park on November 16.

-NPS-

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zimmertr
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PostMon Nov 16, 2020 8:40 pm 
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Any tips for moving towards this line of work from software engineering? Is it too late for me at 27 with no relevant professional experience?

I think I hate computers. And I've never thought that about the mountains.
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HikingBex
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PostMon Nov 16, 2020 8:59 pm 
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zimmertr wrote:
I think I hate computers. And I've never thought that about the mountains

I think most park rangers find that while the mountains (or national parks) are great, many times the people who visit them & who they have to deal with are not so great. Try reading "Pickets and Dead Men" or "Ranger Confidential" - two very eye opening books about what it's like to work in a national park that made me think twice about my fantasy of becoming a ranger wink.gif

-signed, a 28 year old lab scientist with similar dreams
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zimmertr
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PostMon Nov 16, 2020 9:07 pm 
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Just purchased both, thanks for the recommendation.  smile.gif
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PostMon Nov 16, 2020 11:18 pm 
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zimmertr wrote:
Any tips for moving towards this line of work from software engineering? Is it too late for me at 27 with no relevant professional experience?

It's not the NPS, but the USFS desperately needs to upgrade its website. If you're any good at that, you might be the hero we've been waiting for  smile.gif
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smp77
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PostTue Nov 17, 2020 10:04 am 
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I spent a summer working as an interpretive assistant in a state park. The seasonal positions don't require any experience. Often the park will give you a campsite for free for the season. The pay isn't great, but once you get experience in a park it seems pretty easy to transfer to other locations and levels of government.
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markweth
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PostTue Nov 17, 2020 1:02 pm 
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zimmertr wrote:
Any tips for moving towards this line of work from software engineering? Is it too late for me at 27 with no relevant professional experience?

I think I hate computers. And I've never thought that about the mountains.

Getting full-time federal employment in the areas you want to live/work and in the departments you'd enjoy working is pretty difficult. I worked seasonally for the USFS in my early 20s and even though I was willing to relocate I never got a full-time position. So I ended up in another career that I like equally.

And you work with computers a lot now, so you hate them. I'd be somewhat worried about losing your love for the mountains after working "with them" for a decade or so. It doesn't always happen, but I do see some folks who work with the USFS/NPS get burned out on their job and unfortunately sometimes the landscape as well. And if you work a physically demanding job, like trail crew or something, you're often so exhausted on your days off you just want to watch TV and drink beer and not hike all weekend.

And honestly working in an admin or clerical position for the USFS or NPS (which is what most of the jobs are) it's not really that much better than any other corporation in a sense.

I'd suggest finding a career that you enjoy, that pays the bills, and then trying to maximize your time off and live as close to where you want to do outdoor activities as possible rather than trying to find a job with the NPS or USFS. Without a degree in Outdoor Rec or a related science, or professional experience, it will be a challenge to find a job that can support a decent lifestlye with those agencies. That said, you could also really pare down your lifestyle and chase seasonal jobs, but that lifestyle isn't a long-term sustainable one for most people and having to uproot yourself every six months can be stressful. Housing in mountain/outdoor towns is at a premium now and rentals can be difficult to come by. And with many municipalities or counties restricting where you can park/camp overnight, its just not as easy as it once was to live out of a van for a season.

Wishing you the best!
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treeswarper
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PostTue Nov 17, 2020 1:26 pm 
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Zimmer:  If you are serious, you need to do your homework and figure out when the application time is.  I think you just missed it for next year's seasonal positions. 

The FS procedure in the past has been to work people as seasonals and then choose from that.  It isn't anymore.  There are some permanent positions advertised in USA Jobs that are open hire.  These are in the hard to find categories like engineering and timber.  Timber management seems to be the job nobody wants to do anymore.  Timber and engineering were purged in the 1990s. 

Engineering takes both field work and computer work.  The same goes for timber.  If you were serious about this, you might want to research the locations.  Sometimes, going to a place nobody wants to go to, is a good strategy--Happy Camp, CA for example.  There's a good reason nobody wants to go there, but they may have a high turnover and a better chance to get started with. 

The jobs are physically demanding.  Be prepared for bruises and owies because you aren't on a trail.  There is actually a film made on how to fall down safely!  You are out in all sorts of weather.  Plus, you do interact with the public because they'll flag you down to ask questions.  Or in some cases vent their frustrations.  Like has been said, sometimes by Friday you can be exhausted and need the weekend to recover, or if you live in Happy Camp, you might be spending a Saturday per month going to town to get decent groceries.   Town is an hour or more away. 

The agency is under siege right now, as are most.  Morale is low.  That may change with the new administration. 

As far as wages go, well, they told us in school that if you want to make a lot of money, Forestry is not the career to choose.  With the FS, you can make extra by getting fire qualified and going off to fires.  You might get a few helicopter rides too.  But the helicopter is low bid.
smile.gif

Here is the link.  https://www.usajobs.gov/

A logger I was working with actually made it into the top three for a timber position.  Then he figured out the salary and benefits and decided it wasn't worth it.  So, you can get hired off the street for permanent positions if you have the right experience.

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PostTue Nov 17, 2020 2:04 pm 
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I've done my homework on this, because I've thought the same thing. I'm now 40yo, and sticking with my path (for now) because of the realities that TS and Mark bring up.

That said: Don't NOT follow your dreams.

The older you get and the more comfortable ($$) you get in your career and lifestyle, the tougher it is to stomach the necessary changes and sacrifices to embark on an outdoor public services career.

It's never too late, but take it from a lot of us that the older you get, the more "too late" it feels.

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PostTue Nov 17, 2020 2:09 pm 
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Quote:
Any tips for moving towards this line of work from software engineering? Is it too late for me at 27 with no relevant professional experience?

I think I hate computers. And I've never thought that about the mountains.

If you are serious about being interested in being an LE ranger, you may be somewhat in luck. The last time I had a serious conversation with someone rather high up in the NPS about where the jobs are, there were three areas: high voltage electrician, waste water treatment operator, and law enforcement ranger. With the first two, you make more money living in a city or town and doing that job, which is why they are hard to fill in parks. The housing situation is generally very tough, too.

Here is info on the LE training program: https://www.anpr.org/sletp.php

Former military get preference for federal jobs and I suspect they fill many of these. There have been so many federal jobs cut in recent years too that I also think you might, right now, have a lot of seasonal LE rangers competing for the jobs that are left. The pay is abysmal btw. Here is a random one: https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/584671700

If you didn't mean LE ranger specifically, but just NPS or USFS...it's hard. If you don't have military experience or significant relevant experience, the chance of getting a job from USAJOBS is low. Most people I know are either former military and had that preference, or started as students/interns and were able to build their resume that way. Volunteering your skills is one way to get a foot in the door in terms of seeing how parks work, whether its something you'd want to pursue, if so doing what, and then hopefully you meet employees that might be willing to help when it came to putting together a resume (the feds want a pretty different one than the private sector does). There are IT jobs btw. They pay a ton less than the private sector, but they exist.

It can be a pretty tough life. Competing for seasonal job after seasonal job (it has become extremely difficult to get a permanent NPS job), the places you might have to move to start or continue your career, the substandard housing (always with mice), having to bend to the political whims of whoever is in charge, and dealing with a sometimes very difficult public...

Btw in surveys of federal employee morale the NPS always ranks very low. It might have something to do with expectations; NPS people feel that their works is valuable and important, and when that is not recognized, low morale will follow. Whereas if you are an admin at the IRS you might not have high expectations to start with and so have corresponding morale. But still.
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PostTue Nov 17, 2020 5:53 pm 
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treeswarper wrote:
Sometimes, going to a place nobody wants to go to, is a good strategy--Happy Camp, CA for example.  There's a good reason nobody wants to go there

Bonus points for obscure reference location. I haven't heard Happy Camp referenced since leaving Northern California.

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PostTue Nov 17, 2020 5:58 pm 
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Luc wrote:
It's never too late, but take it from a lot of us that the older you get, the more "too late" it feels.

agree.gif
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Anne Elk
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PostTue Nov 17, 2020 6:26 pm 
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I can riff a bit on what Markweth and treeswarper said.  In the "good old days" filling federal jobs was a regional affair; e.g. when I worked for NOAA, my federal application was submitted and reviewed at the HR dept at their regional center on Sandpoint Way in Seattle.  When I fist landed in town in Seattle I was keen to get a seasonal NPS job in Stehekin - oh yeah!  I was dogging the NPS regional office about it, which was in downtown Seattle at the time.

Those days are gone. A few years ago I wanted a break from my regular job and saw that Mt. Baker and NCNP had some seasonal entry level jobs at their visitors' centers. It was my first experience with submitting a job application "online" at USAJobs.gov. In addition to the standard federal form for listing all your personal data and work history, there was a supplemental form that basically was a breakdown of the job description by task - and you had to list where and how you did similar or idential tasks.  It was so highly specific it was obvious that anyone who hadn't done something very similar would never get past the first computer algorithm's sieve.  Sure enough: I had a degree, tons of public service jobs, past federal experience, just nothing in biology, forestry,  etc.  The Giant Computer Brain in Wash DC rated me "unqualified" for an entry level seasonal job.  I figured there were a ton of over-qualified people out there with outdoor job experience, and even laid-off rangers, etc., who were likely trying to get back in the agency.

I can echo the comments of others - doing what you love for pay isn't always great.  I had a job one summer which included being the organization's "hiking guide".  Discovered I wasn't nearly as much a "people person" as that job demanded.

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PostWed Nov 18, 2020 7:34 am 
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The DNR is posting ads for fire crew folks on facebook.

It would be a foot in the door and a way to get relevant experience if you are truly interested in working in a forest or park.  It's a filthy dirty job, but you do get to see some good sunrises if you work nightshift on a fire, and you meet a lot of people/contacts.

27 is not too old for it either.

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PostWed Nov 18, 2020 10:19 am 
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North Cascades interpretation ranger jobs are posted here, live until 11/20

https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/580634300#

As for the questionnaire that asks you about your skills and experiences, know that everyone lies and says they are very experienced with everything so they can get past the algorithm. Hiring managers know and accept this.
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