Nebraska Park Ranger Training and Job Requirements

Park rangers in Nebraska say they have the best job in the world. There are currently approximately 420 park rangers in Nebraska and that number is expected to increase 20 percent by the year 2016.

Rangers in Nebraska work for either the National Park Service or the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has eight district offices located in Alliance, Bassett, Kearrney, Aksarben, North Platte, Lincoln, Omaha and Norfolk. The commission has jurisdiction over Nebraska’s eight state parks, 10 historical parks and many state recreation areas, employing park rangers to work at these state facilities.

State park rangers in Nevada provide information to state  park visitors, man entry booths, collect park fees, assist visitors, conduct guided tours and plan, implement and present informative programs about the park’s history, wildlife, trees, plants and other natural wonders.
There are two types of national park rangers:

  • Protective park rangers – Responsible for protecting and securing parks, as well as performing search/rescue and firefighting duties.
  • Interpretive park rangers – Collect fees, provide information, give informative talks and conduct guided/tours

Requirements for Becoming a Park Ranger in Nebraska

General Requirements – Applicants for park ranger jobs in Nebraska must meet the following requirements:

  • US citizen
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Bachelor’s degree or better in a relevant field
  • Excellent physical condition
  • No criminal record
  • Able to pass a thorough background investigation
  • Knowledge of natural resources and wildlife
  • Willing to work weekends and holidays

Degree Requirements – Anyone interested in a park ranger career in Nebraska will need to earn at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year college or university. Suitable majors for park ranger jobs include:

  • Zoology
  • Natural resource management
  • Biology
  • Wildlife conservation
  • Law enforcement
  • Forestry

Nebraska is home to four public colleges/universities. There are also 16 private colleges or universities and eight community colleges. Cornhuskers can also opt to earn a degree from one of several accredited online four-year educational institutions

How to Apply – A list of open positions with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is available at their jobs website. Other information about full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal employment, as well as volunteer work, can be obtained from their main office at 2200 N. 33rd Street, Lincoln, NE 68504; 402-471-0641.

For job information and an online application with the National Park Service, visit their employment website.

State park rangers in Nebraska earn an average annual salary of $22,000; national park rangers earn an average of $54,850.

State Parks and Recreation Areas in Nebraska

According to a 2011 study, Nebraska residents and non-residents spent a total of 10,173,639 days visiting NE state parks in 2010 with a total economic benefit to the state of $749,888,228.

Nebraska has eight state parks:

  • Chadron NP
  • Eugene T. Mahoney SP
  • Fort Robinson SP
  • Indian Cave NP
  • Niobara SP
  • Platte River NP
  • Ponca SP
  • Smith Falls NP

There are also 10 historical state parks:

  • Ashfall Fossil Beds SHP
  • Ash Hollow SHP
  • Arbor Lodge SHP
  • Bowring Ranch SHP
  • Buffalo Bill Ranch SHP
  • Champion Mill SHP
  • Fort Atkinson SHP
  • Fort Hartsuff SHP
  • Fort Kearney SHP
  • Rock Creek Station SHP

Nebraska’s dozens of state recreational areas include such fun places as:

  • Blue River SRA
  • Bowman Lake SRA
  • Cowboy SRA
  • Long Lake SRA
  • Pelican Point

Although Nebraska has no national parks, it is home to:

  • Agate Fossil Beds National Monument
  • Chimney Rock National Historic Site
  • Niobrara National Scenic River
  • Several National Trails

National park rangers protect and secure all national sites. These national sites are also a boost to Nebraska’s economy.

Nebraska Park Ranger Salaries

The average park ranger salary in Nebraska is a bit difficult to pinpoint, mainly because there are so many titles under which park rangers in Nebraska can work. They have a variety of opportunities available to them within the parks system. In general, park rangers work under the jurisdiction of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and have responsibility over parks like Niobara State Park and Fort Robinson State Park as well as historical sites like Buffalo Bill State Historical Park.

The list below demonstrates the variety of positions which park rangers in Nebraska take on and includes salary information as well:

Game and Parks Superintendent I

  • Minimum: $35,366
  • Maximum: $51,217

Game and Parks Superintendent II

  • Minimum: $40,869
  • Maximum: $59,192

Game and Parks Superintendent III

  • Minimum: $43,160
  • Midpoint: $53,951
  • Maximum: $64,742

Game and Parks Superintendent IV

  • Minimum: $49,878
  • Midpoint: $62,350
  • Maximum: $74,821

Game and Parks Recreational Trails Manager

  • Minimum: $49,878
  • Midpoint: $62,350
  • Maximum: $74,821

Game and Parks Programs Specialist

  • Minimum: $50,770
  • Maximum: $73,530

Additional salary data provided by the U.S. Department of Labor is displayed in the table below, mainly entry-level salaries for a variety of different park ranger roles:

Recreation Workers Salaries in Nebraska

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Lincoln NE
260
23630
Omaha-Council Bluffs NE-IA
1290
24780
Sioux City IA-NE-SD
200
23030
Western Nebraska nonmetropolitan area
150
24700
Central Nebraska nonmetropolitan area
190
23170
Northeastern Nebraska nonmetropolitan area
160
22000
Southeastern Nebraska nonmetropolitan area
130
23140

Tour Guides and Escorts Salaries in Nebraska

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Omaha-Council Bluffs NE-IA
130
24570

Recreational Protective Service Workers Salaries in Nebraska

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Lincoln NE
110
19280
Omaha-Council Bluffs NE-IA
590
19350
Western Nebraska nonmetropolitan area
100
19360
Central Nebraska nonmetropolitan area
180
16970
Northeastern Nebraska nonmetropolitan area
200
16830
Southeastern Nebraska nonmetropolitan area
60
17390

Eugene T. Mahoney State Park

Nebraska is home to 12 state parks, one of which is Eugene T. Mahoney – the most modern and highly visited park in the state. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has jurisdiction over all state parks and state park rangers, who are often called “naturalists” in Nebraska.

Nebraska’s newest state park was dedicated on May 19, 1991. Named for a former policeman, state senator and director of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, it has become the state’s second most popular tourist destination after the Omaha zoo. Located on the Platte River near the city of Ashland, this ultra-modern park offers a variety of overnight accommodations including campsites, cabins and a full-facility lodge.

Features and Activities at Nebraska’s Eugene T. Mahoney State Park

Park rangers are involved in the planning, organization and security of all activities, including:

  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Fishing
  • Swimming
  • Bicycling
  • Bird Watching
  • Paddle Boating
  • Horseback Riding
  • Cross-country Skiing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Tobogganing/Sledding
  • Ice Skating
  • Naturalist Programs

Special facilities include:

  • Aquatic Center/Water Slides
  • Tennis Courts
  • Miniature Golf
  • Driving Range
  • Game Room
  • Observation Tower
  • Playground
  • Picnic Area
  • Kountze Theater/playhouse
  • Restaurant

Park Ranger Job Duties and Responsibilities at Eugene T. Mahoney State Park

Park rangers at Eugene T. Mahoney State Park have a wide variety of responsibilities such as:

  • Operating entry booth – collecting fees, distributing maps, giving directions
  • Maintaining order and security throughout the park
  • Giving first aid in the event of an accident
  • Protecting park wildlife and other resources
  • Helping visitors with various activities
  • Planning and presenting naturalist programs
  • Patrolling hiking trails
  • Enforcing fishing laws and park regulations

Special events held at the park include:

  • Art Show (May weekend)
  • Wine Festival (May weekend)
  • 10KRun for Wildlife (May 17)
  • Storytelling Festival (September 13)
  • Play productions at Kountze playhouse )throughout summer)

Eugene T. Mahoney State Park is close to a number of tourist attractions, including two golf courses and the Air & Space Museum. The total economic impact of outdoor recreation in Nebraska is estimated to be $2,400,000,000.

Fort Robinson State Park

Fort Robinson State Park, located seven miles west of Crawford, Nebraska, is a unique blend of scenic splendor, Old West history, outdoor adventures, exciting activities and modern amenities. The 22,000 acres of Pine Ridge scenery and its historic army fort are under the jurisdiction of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, as are the park rangers who work there. The popular park has an average of 350,000 annual visitors, primarily from May until November.

What Fort Robinson Has to Offer Visitors

The park’s location in the northwestern part of the state is not the endless, flat cornfields one tends to associate with Nebraska. Rather, it consists of a ridge of ponderosa pine forests as well as sandstone buttes and other interesting formations. Herds of buffalo and longhorn cattle roam the area. Historic buildings of the original fort give the park a feeling of the Old West.

Facilities – Park facilities include:

  • Fort Robinson Museum – The State Historic Society maintains a collection of exhibits and artifacts from the fort’s past.
  • Trailside Museum – The University of Nebraska maintained museum focuses on the natural and geological history of the region.
  • Nature Center – Park rangers are there to distribute hiking trail maps and answer questions. There are also wildlife displays and a gift shop.
  • Restaurant – Serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Sutlers store – Provides supplies, snacks, etc.
  • Indoor Olympic-sized pool with outdoor sun deck and wading pool.
  • Playground
  • Fishing pier
  • Tennis courts
  • Boat launch ramp
  • Picnic pavilion
  • Nurses station
  • Park ranger station
  • Campsites – both full hook-up and primitive
  • Other lodging – Visitors can rent luxury log cabins as well as rooms in the refurbished 1909 enlisted men’s and officer’s quarters

Activities – The following activities are offered at Fort Robinson State Park:

  • Hiking (on trails)
  • Bicycling (on trails)
  • Horseback riding
  • Fishing
  • Hunting
  • Bird watching
  • Nature programs given by park rangers
  • Historic programs provided by rangers and other experts
  • Steak cookouts
  • Hayrack breakfasts beneath the buttes
  • Horse drawn tours of the park
  • Jeep tours of the buttes
  • Nature tours aboard the Fort Robinson Express

Although the park and campgrounds are open year round, amenities and activities are limited during the winter months.

History – Fort Robinson was an historic outpost for the U.S. Army throughout the Indian Wars. It was the site of the 1879 Cheyenne outbreak and the death of the famous Sioux Chief Crazy Horse. After World War II the fort served a succession of varied functions as the Red Cloud Indian Agency, a cavalry remount station, a K-9 dog training center, a POW camp, a beef research station and, finally, a state park. The historic buildings were renovated or reconstructed to return them back to the way they looked in the 1870s.

The Boy Scouts Help Fort Robinson – During April 2014, over 1,000 Boy Scouts from five states are planting 10,000 ponderosa pine seedlings at Fort Robinson State Park as the final the stage of an effort to replace trees that were destroyed in the fire of 1989. The Nebraska Environmental Trust funded project began in 1900 and to date the scouts have planted 450,000 pines in order to return the park’s pine ridge scenery to its original glory.

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