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Ben Shryock (’14) named park ranger in Alaska


Ben Shryock Ben Shryock

May 15, 2017 – Ben Shryock (’14 B.S. wildlife science) has been named a park ranger with Alaska State Parks’ Kodiak Area. He had worked for the agency previously before a stint with the Kodiak Police Department.

Shryock submitted the following to describe his work, agency, and education.

Landing a job as a park ranger for the state of Alaska is not easy, the openings are few, require specialized experience, and are very competitive. People are very interested in the term “ranger” whenever they hear it, possibly because the job is very different depending upon the agency.

Alaska has about 25 park rangers and a few superintendents, who are land managers for a few million acres of “back country” park lands, as well as busy “front country” sites including many of the state’s most heavily used fishing, hiking, wildlife viewing, boating, and hunting areas. Unlike the National Park Service, which has many specialized employees, Alaska State Parks relies on a few employees with diverse jobs. Being a ranger means you must be able to work, often alone, in remote areas. Alaska’s rangers operate boats, snow machines, ATVs, and bush planes to accomplish department missions.

Alaska’s rangers carry a badge and gun, and are commissioned law enforcement officers with arrest and citation authority. They attend the Alaska Department of Public Safety Academy alongside Alaska State Troopers. Rangers work closely with wildlife troopers and often issue citations for fish and game violations, such as snagging salmon or hunting out of season. Rangers patrol Alaska’s park lands and waters to protect resources, deter crime, enforce regulations, participate in search and rescue missions, respond to human/bear conflicts, and to simply meet and greet park users.

Alaska State Parks works to provide safe and sustainable access to the state’s natural resources through maintained trails, fishing platforms, boat launches, campgrounds, remote cabins, and more. It is critical for rangers to be familiar with their local natural resources and user groups. Rangers develop plans for new facilities, issue permits, as well as draft grants, management plans, and park regulations that may have far reaching ecological, economic, and social impacts.

My wildlife science degree from Virginia Tech greatly helped in preparing me for this career. Concepts from classes like Human Dimensions of Wildlife Management and Conservation Biology have already helped me understand how to approach some of the diverse challenges this job carries with it.

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