Riley, Ben and Megan are three of 86 youth who were employed in the BC Parks Student Ranger and Youth Employment Programs across the province this year. The Student Ranger Program is now in its fourth year and employs student ranger crews. The Youth Employment Program is in its second year and took a new form this year with 11 co-op positions and 26 student ranger intern positions, under the broader umbrella of the StrongerBC Future Leaders Program.
Riley Strang was a student ranger crew member, based in Dease Lake. Riley studies at Selkirk College in a Recreation, Fish and Wildlife Program. Riley had some incredible experiences in some stunning landscapes. Along with other student ranger crew members, Riley went to Atlin/Áa Tlein Téix’i Provincial Park for a week to help the area supervisor with signage installation and clearing trails. Another trip involved an overnight trip in Todagin South Slope Provincial Park to record data for monitoring forest new growth.
A third trip was to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. “Edziza was really incredible. I really enjoy the long-term ecological monitoring. I learned a lot of plant identification and how to establish a transect,” said Riley.
Riley was also there to install four new tent pads. They hiked in and out on an eight-day backpacking trip carrying tools and supplies, with the heavier things transported by helicopter.
“My program (at Selkirk College) is designed to help people get into being a ranger so it’s directly related,” said Riley. The summer and being a student ranger confirmed for me that this is something I really want to do. What I thought was really interesting was some of the places we accessed by floatplane only, it’s not for everyone but I really enjoyed it personally.”
Ben Lenner was a student ranger crew member based in Alice Lake. Ben is studying public administration, with an environmental policy focus, at the University of Victoria. Like all the student rangers, Ben’s first few weeks started with training and office orientation. Over the summer, Ben did trail building, public engagement, learned how to use equipment safely and all while working closely with senior rangers in the south coast region.
One of the projects was doing revegetation surveys, with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, in Clendinning Provincial Park, which is still recovering from the Elaho Forest Fire in 2015. They did surveying in high and moderate-intensity fire zones and documented which trees and vegetation were growing back.
“When a fire burns intensely the soil is burnt deep down, destroying the nutrients in the soil,” said Ben. The group was monitoring the impacts of the high-intensity fire, and how the soil interacted with vegetation.
Ben can see the connection between his summer experience and his academic career. “It connects me with a lot of my school, policy development within public service. You can see the relationship and the correlation of how policy affects fieldwork and field research,” he said.
Megan Howse was a recreation services intern, based in Goldstream. Megan recently graduated with a bachelor’s in science from the University of Victoria, with a double major in geography and environmental studies.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to work for parks,” said Megan.“I’ve learned how parks are run, learned about park operator agreements, and have had the opportunity to explore parks I’ve never seen before!”
Megan worked closely with BC Parks and park operator staff to learn about the different aspects of facilities management, such as tracking facility inventory. One of these visits was at Montague Harbour Marine Provincial Park where Megan joined other regional staff for a meeting with park operators. They discussed contractual obligations and updated facility inventory, taking notes of everything in the park, including pit toilets and shelters.
Megan has also learned how many different types of jobs there are in BC Parks. “I’ve learned a lot about different positions – conservation[specialists], recreation services officers, [park and protected area] section heads. I’ve always thought it was only the rangers who were boots on the ground,” she said
“It’s been a great learning experience for me. It’s been a lot of fun.”