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Please advise online resources for seasonal with NPS in Wyoming

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I just turned 65, retired and am now a full timer, I have a 34' class A gas rig outfitted with solar and cell signal and WiFi boosters for boondocking and a history and love western Wyoming backpacking in the Tetons and Wind River ranges in Wyoming. I would like to find seasonal work in western Wyoming, preferably with the national park service or the forest service.

 

Could you please advise where and how to best find and apply for these jobs?

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Are you interested in Volunteer or actual paying positions? Volunteer opportunities are listed on the Volunteer.gov website. You can also contact the Volunteer Coordinator at the National Park or Forest that you are interested in. For paying seasonal jobs with a federal agency, go to USA Jobs. Here is a link to the National Park Service Listings. For paying jobs with concessionaires that run stores, campgrounds, marinas, hotels, etc,; you need to contact the individual companies that have the contract for the park or forest that you are interested.

Edited by TCW

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I have been told it is hard to get seasonal ranger jobs unless you have points for military service.

I think it depends on what you mean by "ranger". Law enforcement rangers must have completed one of the approved seasonal ranger academies. Military service or previous law enforcement experience is rarely a substitute unless it was with an agency that trained at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. The qualifications for interpretive rangers are different. Some parks also hire seasonal maintenance workers, mechanics, heavy equipment operators and truck drivers which may need a CDL. Positions which require specialized training may be more available to those without veterans points. In the past, a common way to get a foot in the door was to apply for positions at some of the less glamorous parks. Places like Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon can be tough with no prior experience.

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The qualifications for interpretive rangers are different. Some parks also hire seasonal maintenance workers, mechanics, heavy equipment operators and truck drivers which may need a CDL.

One of the easier areas to get paid work in the parks is to apply for one of the fee booth attendant positions. We have known several who did this and who are not veterans, but even those will be more difficult to get at first if you seek a job at Yellowstone NP, but you might find one in one of the national monuments such as Fossil Butte or Devil's Tower, or perhaps Ft. Laramie. Even volunteer positions are more difficult to find in places like Yellowstone. If you are looking for volunteer positions, let us know an I will share some of those which I am aware of.

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Thanks so much for your advice. Maybe mine is a pipe dream but here it is. While NPS service would be a means of giving back to preserve nature's wonders for future generations, I am looking for paid work that is in line with my interests and experiences as a solo back country explorer.

 

I have read and been fascinated by the history and pioneers of Jackson Hole and Yellowstone. I have had solo encounters with a bear and their cubs by Amphitheater Lake and a moose and her calf in Cascade Canyon. I've climbed into deep remote canyons and up mountains in Big Bend National Park and read the stories of early pioneers to that area. I've been to canyoneering school in southern Utah and climbed in Potrero Chico in Mexico. I have no great skills at these things but I love adventure, remain very committed to more, and have a high pain threshold.

 

I want to find a way to be able to share those experiences as well as my interest in the development in lighter, more compact, backpacking gear that make my own high country experiences more enjoyable. I am looking for seasonal / part time work to allow me flexibility to seek new adventures. For this summer, I am looking at Wyoming but in the fall I will be exploring the eastern face of the sierras or the slot canyons of Utah.

 

Let me know if you have any suggestions about what opportunities might be available.

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Most positions for this season are probable already filled. We have a close friend who is a summer ranger at Grand Teton. It took her filling many other positions over several years to get this job. Those jobs are filled by the USA job site. I the process takes awhile. Good luck in your endeavor. Many people who get these jobs also start out doing unpaid intern positions. That may mean you might Need to do a few that aren't necessarily related to your specific interest to get you foot in the door.

I would actually contact a National Park in person, make an appointment to meet with the NPS employee and discuss how to do this. That person could give you an idea when the jibs are posted and what you need.

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Your past experience with backpacking would be valuable as a backcountry ranger.

 

... I am looking for seasonal / part time work to allow me flexibility to seek new adventures...

I do not know if it is still the case or not and whether it is true for every park, but when I worked in Yellowstone, the backcountry rangers were law enforcement officers which requires the special training that I mentioned in my first post. At that time, the seasonal employees all worked full time (i,e, 40 hours per week). Most appointments, at least in Yellowstone, were for the majority of the time that the park was open for the summer season.

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While I very much agree with what both Nana and TCW have already responded, I still think that you should investigate the possibilities as the worst than can happen is to be told no. If you are interested in a job that isn't in the back country but which allows you to go there in your days off, that would be much more likely to be available in that area. Even if you do not find what you are seeking now, it could lay the ground work for such a position in future years. I doubt that there are many positions which fit what you describe so I'd advise that you stay flexible and perhaps accept something less this season as a means of getting "in."

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Here is how I did it: I worked four seasons for Delaware North Corporation, who is the concessionaire for the 12 General Stores. My first season I was a Sales Associate (cashier) at the Grant Village store. My second season was as a Floor Supervisor at the Tower General Store.


Seasons three and four were as a Trainer on the cash register systems for all twelve stores throughout the park.


As a Trainer, all the personnel were trained by mid-August so my season terminated. I was not ready to leave the park so I went over to the Tower Ranger Station and asked if I could volunteer for a couple months each season.


I got along very well with that crew and was urged to apply for a full Ranger slot for this season. The application process was grueling at best. Many hours working on revisions and research on the internet on how to prepare a resume and fill out the application on UsaJobs. I do have the Veteran's benefit so that was a big help.


Bottom line - I got the position and am proud to be wearing a flat-hat this summer.


The best thing I can say is to introduce yourself to a major location like Old Faithful, Mammoth Hot Springs, Canyon Village or Grant Village and offer to volunteer. This is going to be a wild summer, already started out that way. They may be looking for help.


I don't have any names to share. Go to the main visitor center at each spot and ask who to talk to about volunteering.


Also, check out the concessionaires to get a foothold in the park. Here is some info:

Delaware North Corporation (12 Yellowstone General Stores)

Xanterra (lodges and other hospitality operations including commercial campgrounds)

Yellowstone Park Service Stations (gas stations and vehicle service/towing)


To say it is easy to get a job with one of the concessionaires is an understatement - super easy. And, while the season is already in motion there tends to be a certain percentage of no-shows for various reasons. There may be opportunities remaining.


Also, there are seven NPS campgrounds in the park. The hosts are volunteers. The other five campgrounds are run by Xanterra who I mentioned above.


Back-Country Ranger slots are coveted positions. All the BCRs in Yellowstone that I know have been in the Park Service for some time. I also know current rangers who are competing heavily for any open slots. And, as stated above, Back-Country Rangers are Law Enforcement Rangers.


Good Luck and enjoy the park!!

Edited by Kevin H

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...Bottom line - I got the position and am proud to be wearing a flat-hat this summer...

Congratulations!!

 

Curious about a couple of things. When volunteering at Tower Falls, where did you park the RV? The last time I was there about 4/5 years ago, they were still using the 1960's vintage single wides for seasonal quarters and I didn't see any RV's but did not walk back into the housing and coral area.

 

Where are you stationed? What are your duties? What is your work schedule as a Park Service seasonal? If you are a federal retiree, did they apply the retired annuitant pension offset?

 

Again, Congratulations on your new job!!!

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Thanks, TCW. It is indeed a dream come true.


I am stationed at the Tower Falls Ranger Station. You are correct on the 60's era trailers. There was one RV spot as well.


They moved the trailers out over the past winter. That created another large spot that we are parked in. There is another rig next to us in the spot we had last season during our volunteer. The spot where the other mobile home was is now a housing unit.


Housing is the main problem for the Tower station. There are lots of people wanting to work there but no place to house them.


I'm techincaly a VUA (Visitor Use Assistant) but am functioning as a General Ranger. VUAs are the folks manning the entrance stations but the Tower district can hire off the VUA cert for general positions.


I am scheduled for 40 hours/week. Probably putting in around 45ish. I man the Back Country Office, issuing BC camping permits and answering lots of questions as our location functions as a small visitor center. We are somewhat remote, halfway between Mammoth Hot Springs and Canyon.


When not in the BCO I am on the road roving. Right now we are handling about 40 bear jams per week. Black bears are everywhere so it seems I just run from bear jam to bear jam. Visitorship is way up for this time of the year.


Our district covers halfway to Mammoth Hot Springs south to Dunraven Pass and on out east through Lamar Valley all the way to the NE Gate. We are the area where the bison calf ended up in the back of the SUV.


I am not a retired Fed employee. I retired from the State of Texas but that did not mean anything for this. I am not familiar with the retired annuitant pension offset.


So far its been a ball. Lots of work but I'm livin' the dream!!!

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...I am stationed at the Tower Falls Ranger Station...So far its been a ball. Lots of work but I'm livin' the dream!!! ... I am not familiar with the retired annuitant pension offset...

Tower is a great District to work in. Sounds like they did away with the Lamar District? Are any of the old cabins built by the Army (Buffalo, Hell Roaring, Slough Creek) still surviving after the fires. When I was there they let us use them on our days off. Upper Slough Creek was my favorite because of the trout fishing and the great folks at Silver Tip Lodge.

 

The retired annuitant pension offset is a provision of federal law that says if a retiree goes back to work for a federal agency, they continue to receive their pension and the amount of the pension is deducted from their salary. When I checked it out after retirement, it was being applied to seasonal positions. Most seasonal positions in the park at that time were GS-4 & 5s with a few GS-7s. Since as an employee, you had to pay rent for quarters (including an RV spot), it would have cost me to work as a seasonal. As a volunteer, I would at least get a free site.

Edited by TCW

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Both my husband and I have lived and worked in Yellowstone for some 7 summers, as Xanterra employees, Yellowstone Ass and NPS fee collectors. Of course the federal gov pays a lot better than the others but getting a job there is very difficult (we were just lucky to be in the right place at the right time). Concessionaire jobs are very plentiful and don't require much like ordering uniforms and background checks and some are PT so you would have more time for your own adventures. Of all the jobs and employers in Yellowstone we liked the Association the best. Good company to work for. Park jobs are indeed difficult to get. The application process is as convoluted as the government itself. My best advice would be to start the application process and take it slow. It has changed some since we applied by asking choice questions instead of narrative, but if they ask you to explain your experiences and skills, you should phrase the answer in the same way it is asked. All the info that you use on the application is stored so it can be easily sent to many locations but it is just as easy to change the info too if you want to update. Don;t be afraid to sell your self in areas that you feel you have interest. And don't be afraid to send out lots of applications. Even if you get a referral or offer it doesn't mean you have to accept. My husband eventually got a permanent position with the Park service and retired out of Baker City BLM in 2010. Yes they do withhold your federal retirement from your pay even as a seasonal employee so that can take a big chunk of the pay and they do ask you to pay for your site. Military service makes a big difference in the applications with the new rules for hiring vets and in some parks they have the leeway to have it count a lot! Disabled vet and widow of vet also count alot. Sometimes it can take a long time to hear from the NP. We have waited 4 months to hear from some and others called in just a week. Our son now works for the NPS on trails. That kind of job would get you out in the backcountry alot but it is grueling work and at 46 yrs old he is considering a different position. Good luck!

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Tower is a great District to work in. Sounds like they did away with the Lamar District? Are any of the old cabins built by the Army (Buffalo, Hell Roaring, Slough Creek) still surviving after the fires. When I was there they let us use them on our days off. Upper Slough Creek was my favorite because of the trout fishing and the great folks at Silver Tip Lodge.

 

The retired annuitant pension offset is a provision of federal law that says if a retiree goes back to work for a federal agency, they continue to receive their pension and the amount of the pension is deducted from their salary. When I checked it out after retirement, it was being applied to seasonal positions. Most seasonal positions in the park at that time were GS-4 & 5s with a few GS-7s. Since as an employee, you had to pay rent for quarters (including an RV spot), it would have cost me to work as a seasonal. As a volunteer, I would at least get a free site.

 

I may have miss-spoken. We all refer to our district as Tower, but I believe, technically, it is the Lamar District. I was looking at some maps today of the districts. Ours was marked Lamar and nothing was marked Tower. Take a look at this page for more info.

 

There are still a number of cabins, two in the Slough area. I plan to visit some this season. Don't know if they are the originals built by by the Army, but it would be cool if they are!

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Another way to go is to work at a state park. I have been a volunteer at Custer State Park in So Dakota near Mt. Rushmore for 3 summers now. Mt. Rushmore is also a possibility for employment as well as The Badlands just east of here.

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