Kansas Park Ranger Training and Degree Requirements

According to an economic impact study commissioned by the Kansas Recreation and Park Association, 73% of the residents of Kansas use park and recreation services on a weekly basis.  The researchers also found that every tourist dollar spent on parks and recreation services in Kansas accounted for an additional $1.70 spent in the local economy.

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism manages the 24 state parks in Kansas along with the Prairie Spirit Trail.  These parks encompass about 25,000 acres of water and 35,000 acres of land.  Some of the most popular state parks in Kansas include:

  • Cheney State Park
    • One of the top lakes for sailing in the country

  • Scott State Park
    • Over 1,000 acres surround a 100 acre, spring-fed fishing lake

  • Tuttle Creek State Park
    • Excellent opportunities to watch wildlife, hunt, and fish

The state and national parks located in Kansas offer a variety of recreational options and diverse types of wildlife habitats.  The scenery in Kansas’s parks ranges from dense forests to grassland and canyons.  Visitors to these parks include both people from around the world and local residents alike.

Park rangers in Kansas work for the state and federal government.  They are all certified law enforcement officers with additional expertise in natural resource management.

How to Become Part of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism

Park rangers who work for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism are known as natural resource officers.  Applicants are expected to be highly educated, although experience can be substituted for education in some cases. 

In addition, they must meet the standards to be certified to use a firearm for their law enforcement duties.

General Requirements:

  • Be 21 years old at the time of appointment
  • Possess a valid driver’s license
  • Not have any of the following types of convictions:
    • Misdemeanor domestic violence
    • Felony
    • Any crime that resulted in federal prison or state jail time

Educational Requirement:

Bachelor’s degree in natural resources that includes no less than 24 semester hours in:

  • Intro to recreation; recreation & parks
  • Recreation commercial setting
  • Outdoor recreation
  • Recreation facility design
  • Leisure management
  • Group leadership
  • Interpretive service
  • Recreation games/activities
  • Park management
  • Camp administration
  • Program planning
  • Recreation program services
  • Recreation & lifetime skills
  • Nature recreation
  • Park operations
  • Park planning
  • Park user surveys
  • Park or recreation research
  • Wild land recreation or management
  • Travel, tourism & park management

Steps in the Hiring Process:

  • Panel interview
  • Physical exam
  • Drug screening test

Training Process:

  • Annual training
  • Basic law enforcement training
    • Must be a program recognized by the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Commission

Types of Duties:

  • Law enforcement:
    • Enforcing license and permit requirements
    • Detecting violations
    • Making arrests
    • Collecting evidence
    • Preparing cases
    • Testifying in court

  • Property and facility inspections
    • Both coordinating and conducting

  • Public relations
    • Both coordinating and maintaining campaigns

  • Supervising park staff and members of the Americorps program
    • Including participating in training development

  • Park maintenance
    • Coordinating and actively participating in

  • Educating the public
    • Contacting constituents and the media
    • Participating in educational programs
    • Speaking in public

  • Preparing and submitting budgets

Requirements for Becoming a Federal Park Ranger in Kansas

The National Park Service found that over 100,000 people visited national parks in Kansas in 2012, spending more than $4.6 million.  Kansas has the following national parks:

  • Brown v Board of Education National Historic Site
  • Fort Larned National Historic Site
  • Fort Scott National Historic Site
  • Nicodemus National Historic Site
  • Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
    • Nationally significant as an example of the tallgrass prairie ecosystem

Park rangers for the National Park Service have both protective functions as law enforcement officers and interpretative functions for the general public.  The job requirements are shown below:

Basic Requirements:

  • Being 21 years of age
  • Possession of a valid driver’s license

Educational Requirements: 

  • Bachelor’s degree for GS-05 positions
    • Must include 24 hours of related courses such as:
      • Law enforcement
      • Archaeology
      • Fish and wildlife management
  • Graduate school (one full year) in a field related to being a park ranger for GS-07 positions

Experience Requirements: 

Experience can substitute for education if it is in one of the following types of areas:

  • Experience such as a law enforcement officer or park guide for GS-05 positions
  • Experience using law enforcement skills to protect visitors and resources for GS-07 positions

Applicants can use a combination of experience and education to meet the requirements to be hired as a federal park ranger.

Quality Ranking Factors: 

Possessing the following types of skills will increase the likelihood of an applicant being accepted for a federal park ranger position:

  • Ability to operate power boats
  • Emergency response certification

Kansas Park Ranger Salaries

The National Park Service reports that there are five national parks within Kansas. During 2013, these parks accounted for $4.6 million in economic revenue and received an estimated 91,000 visitors. These sites include Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, Fort Larned and Fort Scott National Historic Sites, Nicodemus National Historic Site, and Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Strong City.

Park rangers work for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT), which is responsible for 26 state parks including the Prairie Spirit Trail and Mushroom Rock State Parks. According to the Kansas Department of Administration, State Employment Center, the park ranger salary in Kansas begins at $10.00 per hour as park rangers actually work on a seasonal basis.

Additional entry-level salary data is shown in the tables below. This includes various titles that park rangers in various roles are recognized:

Recreation Workers Salaries in Kansas

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Kansas City MO-KS
1960
23880
Lawrence KS
290
18690
Manhattan KS
130
25040
St. Joseph MO-KS
130
23960
Topeka KS
320
25100
Wichita KS
450
25460
Kansas nonmetropolitan area
1020
21480

Tour Guides and Escorts Salaries in Kansas

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Kansas City MO-KS
Estimate Not Released
27090
Kansas nonmetropolitan area
Estimate Not Released
19870

Recreational Protective Service Workers Salaries in Kansas

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Kansas City MO-KS
990
18090
Lawrence KS
150
17120
Topeka KS
Estimate Not Released
20020
Wichita KS
Estimate Not Released
17330
Kansas nonmetropolitan area
560
16910

Cedar Bluff State Park

Originally built to help with flood control, Cedar Bluff State Park attracts visitors nationwide and is now home to a wide range of wildlife.  Completed in 1951, the reservoir quickly became a popular tourist and recreational destination. In 1962, Cedar Bluff Reservoir received recognition as a state park.

Park rangers at Cedar Bluff State Park stay busy by ensuring a wonderful experience for more than 250,000 visitors each year. Home to 96 different utility campsites, park rangers spend a considerable amount of time reviewing all camping registrations and permits.  Knowledge and expertise of fishing will equip park rangers with a convenient skillset to assist visitors who take advantage the reservoirs large covered fishing dock. A unique responsibility for park rangers is ensuring all BMX riders follow regulations and necessary safety precautions while on the track. Overseeing the lifeguard operations is another way rangers ensure public safety inside the park itself.

Park Ranger Duties and Tasks in Cedar Bluff State Park

Park rangers in Cedar Bluff State Park perform a wide variety of job functions to ensure that the park operates efficiently and that visitors stay safe. These duties include:

  • Patrolling the park or assigned areas
  • Conducting boat enforcement or investigations’
  • Protecting all department and park property
  • Enforcing all state and federal wildlife regulations and statutes
  • Providing animal damage control, Protection for wildlife
  • Conducting wildlife surveys
  • Collecting and disposing of deceased wildlife
  • Assistance to other departments
  • Leading education programs and outreach to the public

Cedar Bluffs has a strict quiet hour’s policy and park rangers are on site to ensure all visitors refrain from disturbing others between the hours of 11 pm and 6am. If visitors fail to comply with this policy, removal from the park may occur at the discretion of the park rangers.

Park Promotion and Public Speaking – Park rangers at Cedar Bluff Park provide more than just public-safety services. In addition to the duties above, historical knowledge of the park can help provide insight to visitors interested in learning more about the park’s rich history. Cedar Bluff rangers promote wildlife conservation by engaging in public speaking events, as well as contributing to magazines and newspapers.

Wildlife Conservation Duties – Park rangers investigate all fish and game kills, incidents of pesticide poisoning, pollution occurrences, and sources of pollutants affecting both wildlife and the environment in the region. Park rangers also patrol all streams, lakes, ponds, fields and woodland areas on a daily basis. When patrolling the region, they enforce all state wildlife, fish, and public safety regulations, as well as compliance with state and federal laws by checking the permits of hunters, trappers, boaters, and anglers.

Cheney State Park

Originally constructed in 1964, Cheney State Park in Cheney, Kansas straddles the 6,800-acre Cheney Reservoir. Known as a superior sailing lake, Cheney Reservoir is a member of the Ninnescah Sailing Association and one of the top 10 sailing lakes in the United States.

Park rangers at Cheney State Park keep the parks two marinas running smoothly by offering services and supplies for anglers and boaters. The park’s main office oversees 9,600 surface area acres on the lake. With six boat ramps, four courtesy docks, and 22 launching lanes, park rangers are busy handling the day-to-day boating operations here. Ensuring public safety on the three nature trails including a five-mile bicycle and walking route is of top priority to all rangers in Cheney State Park.

Job Responsibilities of a Park Ranger at Cheney State Park

Cheney State Park is full of many amenities and services, and because of this, one of the main responsibilities for park rangers is ensuring public safety throughout the park and its amenities. Park rangers can provide this service by the following duties:

  • Conducting investigations
  • making arrests
  • patrolling the park grounds
  • resolving complains from tourists and other state agencies involving public safety and permit compliance
  • Responding to complaints and disturbance’s
  • Search and rescue for lost tourists
  • Staying up to date on all permit compliance
  • Testifying in court

Law Enforcement Duties of Park Rangers – Park rangers are responsible for handling many law enforcement duties within the park to ensure the safety of all visitors and employees. These duties include:

  • Criminal law, conducting investigations, collecting, preserving, and analyzing evidence
  • Ensuring all visitors adhere to all state and local laws pertaining to Cheney State Park, boating, natural resources and all recreational vehicles.

Park Promotion and Public Outreach Responsibilities – The duty of a park ranger at Cheney State Park is not limited to public safety, park rangers are also responsible for the promotion and public outreach within the park. Through public speaking, contact with the media, and management of education programs, park rangers help to provide the public with pertinent information relating to visiting Cheney State Park. All feedback, questions and complaints from park visitors are handled by park rangers.

Maintenance and Managerial Responsibilities – All park amenities and resources are kept up by park employees under the supervision of park rangers. Park rangers help to oversee the maintenance of the park grounds, public utilities, and facilities. Permit sales, accounting practices, as well as revenue collection and general office duties are handled by park rangers in a timely manner.

Cheney State Park runs smoothly and efficiently due to the behind-the-scenes administrative duties and task of park rangers. Rangers help to assign campground sites to tourists, manage seasonal staffers, provide evaluations, and training to employees, and help file, maintain, and write reports on park operations.

Clinton State Park

Dedicated in 1975, Clinton State Park is located on the northern shore of the Clinton Reservoir in Lawrence, Kansas. The park attracts more than 600,000 visitors annually, which means that a park ranger’s job here is never done.

Clinton State Park offers a wonderful balance between natural areas and recreational facilities.  It is a park ranger’s duty to make sure that everyone has a safe, enjoyable visit.   For visitors who enjoy the great outdoors, Clinton State Park offers a 25-mile hiking trail, a 5-mile cross-country ski trail, and a 1-mile nature trail.

Park rangers patrol these locations to ensure rules are being followed and that visitors aren’t endangering themselves – or others.  With over 383 campsites, park rangers also spend a considerable amount of time making sure visitors register and obtain the proper permits needed for camping.

Necessary Knowledge and Skills of Clinton State Park Rangers

Park rangers at Clinton State Park provide a diverse range of services to the public and all interested applicants should possess the unique skillset and knowledge necessary to successfully carry out these responsibilities.

Knowledge Required:

  • General knowledge of park operations, maintenance, and procedures
  • Understanding of the importance and preservation of natural resources
  • In depth knowledge of all local and state laws which pertain to the usage of state park facilities, boating, motor vehicles, and the handling of natural resources.

Skill Sets Required:

  • Interacting with a diverse group of individuals in order to maintain an efficient working relationship
  • Ability to stay alert and energetic for long periods, often under stressful and difficult situations.
  • Ability to use construction equipment, power tools and hand tools.

General Job Responsibilities of a Clinton Park Ranger:

Clinton State Park offers many facilities to visitors such as swimming amenities, multiple campsites, and a private marina for boating enthusiasts. Because the park has so much to offer, park rangers are involved with:

  • Maintaining a law enforcement presence in the park through the patrolling of all park facilities, ponds, lakes, woodland regions, and more.
  • Managing and maintaining a safe wildlife habitat for both the animals and park visitors
  • Ensuring compliance of all regulations and safety laws within the park perform the reviewing of all permits and licenses of boaters, hunters, trappers, and anglers.

Law Enforcement Responsibilities of Clinton State Park Rangers:

Park rangers at Clinton State Park are responsible for investigating hunting and boating accidents by collecting evidence and reporting all findings to the local authorities. The investigation of all fish and game kills is another important law enforcement responsibility of park rangers. Rangers must ensure that all kills are legal and are in compliance of all state and local regulations

When visitors make a complaint, they must report it to a park ranger, who then investigates the nature of the complaint for violations. Park rangers are also responsible for issuing warnings and citations, as well as apprehending violators, securing evidence and conducting interviews.

Eisenhower State Park

Eisenhower State Park in Osage City, Kansas was originally known as Melvern State Park.  It was renamed in 1990 to honor the state’s native son, President Dwight Eisenhower.  Located on Melvern Lake in the eastern location of Flint Hills, Eisenhower State Park spans 1,785 acres. With 1,000 acres of tallgrass prairie and 440 acres of woodland, Eisenhower Park is home to 186 different utility campsites, in addition to other non-utility sites.

The park is also home to a burgeoning trail system, where tourists are able to take advantage of horseback riding, hiking, biking and archery. The Crooked Knee Horse Trail offers a 20 mile excursion through an undeveloped west side of the park. The 10,0008 acre Melvern Wildlife Area, which is adjacent to the park, offers visitors an opportunity to see a diverse blend of wildlife, including wild turkey, waterfowl, whitetail deer and bobwhite quail.

Job Duties of Park Rangers Working in Eisenhower State Park

Park rangers at Eisenhower State Park must have general knowledge of the following areas:

  • Park’s operations, maintenance practices, and development
  • Park design and recreation practices
  • Visitor safety procedures
  • Agency procedures
  • Criminal law, investigative procedures, collection, preservation and analysis of evidence
  • Natural resources and management
  • State and local laws pertaining to state parks, boating, natural resources, and motor vehicle’s

The scope of a park ranger’s job duties in Eisenhower State Park include everything from law enforcement to engaging visitors in interpretive programs:

Law Enforcement and Public-Safety Duties – Park rangers at Eisenhower State Park perform a variety of law enforcement duties, including upholding and enforcing state statutes and park rules, as well as all laws and regulations within the park itself. Law enforcement duties include:

  • Patrolling permit compliance
  • Responding to disturbances and complaints
  • Making arrests
  • Conducting investigations
  • Testifying in court
  • Resolving complaints from visitors, as well as other state agencies involving permits and public safety
  • Search and rescue for lost visitors

Public Outreach and Maintenance Duties – Park Rangers are responsible for promoting the value of department properties through public speaking, media contacts, educational programs, and positive constituent contacts. Park rangers also prepare and present lectures about park safety. In addition, they manage feedback, questions and complaints from park visitors.

Coordinating and participating in park maintenance and development of the park grounds, utilities, facilities and public services is another important park ranger duty. By providing direction and overseeing employees in the administration of permit sales, accounting practices, revenue collection, and general office practices, park rangers are always on their toes and no two days are exactly the same.

Managerial Duties – Park rangers are also tasked with a variety of administrative duties, including:

  • Assigning campground sites to visitors
  • Assigning work projects to employees
  • Managing seasonal staffers, performing performance evaluations, and providing training
  • Writing, filing and maintaining reports on park operations’
  • Helping with visitor center operations as well as other park facilities’

El Dorado Lake State Park

Construction of El Dorado Lake State Park was completed in 1981 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. During construction, Bluestem Lake and old El Dorado Lake were combined to form the larger lake in existence today. If park visitors look closely, remnants of the Bluestem Lake dam can still be seen on the arm of Shady Creek along the lake.

El Dorado Lake State Park is home to an elaborate trail system for bikers, equestrian activities, and hiking, which means rangers must provide grounds surveillance to ensure the safety of all visitors. The park’s outdoor Amphitheater provides a venue for many outdoor events where park rangers provide law enforcement services.

Park rangers also provide information to visitors on fees associated with camping, utility permits, special event permits, and recreational permits like fishing.

Job Responsibilities and Tasks for Park Rangers in El Dorado Lake State Park

Law Enforcement and Regulations Duties – Park rangers at El Dorado Lake State Park have a wide range of duties associated with their position. Enforcing Federal and State wildlife regulations, patrolling assigned areas, conducting boating enforcement and protecting all department and park properties are all examples of regulation duties. Law enforcement duties of park rangers include investigating violations, making associated arrests, collecting evidence, preparing cases for the court of law and testifying in court.

Wildlife Duties – Due to the abundance of wildlife in El Dorado Lake State Park, park rangers are expected to aid in wildlife protection and wildlife surveys, as well as assist other departments with wildlife collection and disposal.

Park Promotion Duties – Park rangers are active in PR campaigns and are actively involved in a variety of educational programs associated with the park itself.

Fort Larned National Park

Established in 1859 as a response to hostilities along the Santa Fe Trail, Fort Larned was a security point for mail wagons, freighters and other trail traffic. Today, visitors from across the country visit this national park to see a well preserved army post that is full of rich Indian Wars era history.

Through live demonstrations, interactive historical figures, and park-guided tours, visitors are taken right back to the 1860s Santa Fe Trail. Adjacent to the fort’s main buildings sits a short ½-mile semicircle nature trail that allows park visitors an opportunity to observe the areas unique woodlands, riparian plants and animals.

Job Duties of a Fort Larned National Park Ranger

Physical Demands of the Position – Rigorous field work is necessary, including periods of prolonged walking, standing, bending, lifting, reaching, and carrying heavy items. Fort Larned rangers participate in ranger-guided tours, which require rangers to work in isolated outdoor environments year-round.  As such, they are subject to a variety of weather conditions conducive to Kansas.

Patrol and Park Regulation – Rangers at Fort Larned enforce all park laws and regulations and are tasked with issuing citations and making arrests when necessary. Rangers may find themselves in situations where they must provide emergency medical services to visitors so certification as a first responder, paramedic, EMT or park medic is preferred.

Law Enforcement Duties – Park rangers at Fort Larned are commissioned rangers with a board authority to enforce both federal and state laws within the national park, which means that all park rangers are required to complete additional law enforcement training. The National Park Service offers a curriculum conducted at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (F.L.E.TC.). All rangers must complete this rigorous law enforcement program in order to be certified as a law enforcement officer, which is a requirement of the position.

Educational Duties – Rangers help to engage the public and visitors in curriculum based programs. Cultural resource education is also provided by rangers that includes education and access to artifacts, and natural resources. All rangers, regardless of their main duties, are required to be experts on the resources within Fort Larned National Park.

Milford State Park

Milford State Park, located near Junction City, is home to one of the largest lakes in all of Kansas – Milford Lake. With some 16,000+ square acres to manage, park rangers here are tasked with the preservation of the park’s natural beauty, as well as visitor safety and grounds patrols.  In addition, park rangers here provide visitors with information on park amenities, ensure that anglers comply with all regulations and offer interpretive programs to visitors as it relates to the park’s wildlife.

The Job Duties of Park Rangers at Milford State Park

Milford State Park would not be as popular with visitors if it was not for the dedication of the park rangers that work there. Park rangers help keep the park running efficiently, creating the best possible experience for all visitors. Common job responsibilities include:

Law Enforcement and Regulations Duties – Park rangers in Milford State Park enforce wildlife regulations as set forth by state and federal authorities, monitor activities in assigned areas, regulate boating activities and strive to protect park property. Park rangers are also responsible for identifying violations, making necessary arrests, gathering evidence, preparing court cases and testifying in a court of law.

Wildlife Duties – Park rangers are responsible for animal damage control, protecting wildlife, and helping other departments with collecting and disposing of dead wildlife.

Park Promotion Duties – Park rangers are responsible for educating the public about Milford State Park.  They are also instrumental in public relations for the park itself and help to provide educational information and programs to visitors, which include public safety programs. All rangers, regardless of primary responsibilities are expected to be experts on all park resources, whether cultural or natural.

Fishing Regulation Duties – Milford State park is a popular destination for fishing enthusiasts.  Park rangers are tasked with ensuring they have the appropriate licenses to do so and that all park rules and regulations are followed.

Emergency Response Duties – Rangers are trained in search and rescue, as well as wilderness first aid. When emergency situations arise, park rangers are often the first responders on the scene.

Administrative Duties – Park rangers help to set policy for the park, handle all human resource related duties, manage budgets, and ensure the ongoing operation of the park.

Perry State Park

Perry State Park officially became a state park in 1968 through a lease with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and the U.S Army Corps of Engineers.  Located in Jefferson County, near Ozawkie, Kansas, Perry State Park offers a variety of recreational activities that attract visitors nationwide.

Park rangers at Perry State Park patrol camping locations through the forested rolling hills at Perry Lake. With 20 miles of biking and hiking trails, rangers also ensure visitors follow all specified safety regulations.

Since Perry State Park is home to a 25-mile horse trail, park rangers are encouraged to have knowledge in equestrian sports. Due to the parks close vicinity to highway 24, rangers use their specialized law enforcement training to safeguard visitors from outside influences as well.

Working as a Park Ranger in Perry State Park

Beneficial Knowledge and Skills – Individuals seeking Perry State park ranger jobs will benefit from the following:

  • Knowledge of park development, operations, and maintenance procedures.
  • Knowledge of natural resources.
  • Knowledge of local and state laws that pertain to using state parks, boating, natural resources and motor vehicles.
  • Knowledge of safety practices for visitors.
  • Knowledge of all park related procedures

Candidates should also possess the following:

  • Ability to work long hours under arduous and stressful situations.
  • Ability to stay alert for extended periods of time.
  • Ability to use construction equipment, hand tools and power tools.
  • Ability to interact work well alone, as well as a member of a team.

Responsibilities of a Perry State Park Ranger – Perry State Park features multiple picnic areas, a sandy beach with swimming facilities, boating ramps, and four utility campgrounds. With a large number of amenities for visitors to choose from, the job responsibilities of a park ranger are virtually endless. Primary responsibilities include:

  • Patrolling streams, lakes, fields, woodland regions, and ponds to enforce all state wildlife, fish and public safety rules and regulations.
  • Providing labor assistance in the maintenance and management of all wildlife habitats, as well as other associated facilities on both public and private lands.
  • Reviewing licenses and permits of all trappers, boaters, hunters and anglers to ensure compliance of all laws and regulations within the park and state.

Perry State Park Rangers Law Enforcement Responsibilities – Perry State Park rangers handle many different law enforcement responsibilities within the park to ensure the safety of all employees and visitors, including:

  • Investigating boating and hunting accidents by collecting evidence and reporting findings.
  • Investigating game and fish kills, as well as occurrences of pollution or pesticide poisoning.
  • Investigating complaints and violations by park visitors.
  • Issuing warnings and citations, apprehending violators, conducting interviews and securing evidence.

Park Promotion and Public Education – Perry State Park rangers are also responsible for providing educational information on the history, outdoor safety and ethics of the park. Promotion of the park and its wildlife through public speaking, media outlet reach, and bulletins is another responsibility of a Perry State Park ranger.

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