First Advisor

Marion Dresner

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Environmental Science and University Honors


Environmental Science


United States. National Park Service -- Vocational guidance, United States. National Park Service -- Officials and employees, Park rangers -- United States




National Park Service interpreters around the United States are dedicated to connecting people to their parks and historical sites. While these interpretive rangers have an important mission of preserving the landscape and stories of our nation’s most treasured places, a gap in the research of significant life experiences and environmental education professions exists in understanding the motivations behind following a career in the park service. Through semi-structured phenomenological interviews, the significant life experiences of interpretive park rangers were investigated as to their degree of influence on their choice of career. The findings indicate that quality time spent outdoors, family involvement, and education were main factors. Identification of the overlap of these themes helps to validate the ability of existing significant life experience research to apply to interpretive rangers in order to better understand and potentially allow for greater and more diverse recruitment of National Park Service rangers in accordance to the 2016 A Call to Action goals. These findings agree with the existing work on significant life experiences and conclude main factors of National Park Service career choice.


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