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July 31st – World Ranger Day

July 31, 2015
photo from internationalrangers.org

photo from internationalrangers.org

Today it so happens, is World Ranger Day. A day to celebrate and recognize all the folk who go above and beyond in the line of duty for the sake of our environment, our parks, our wildlife and our citizens. It is a dangerous, sometimes fatal duty but also a calling for so many who believe in the protection and promotion of our wild spaces.

Growing up, my father was a typewriter technician who realized that typewriters were quickly disappearing. He went back to school as an older than average student (OTAS) and after earning a degree in Biology. Upon graduating he took a job out west with Alberta Parks moving the entire family across the country (sans myself as the oldest child and starting post secondary school – yes – I turned 18 and my family moved away from home).

Rob Ridley (Sr)

Rob Ridley (Sr)

For more than ten years he was a Park Ranger, first in the Brooks area and later the majority of those years in Kananaskis Country. I enjoyed visiting and hiking through the mountains, and seeing sites and vistas others would pay good money to see while he earned a paycheque to not only see it – but to be a steward of it.

He cleared trail, he enforced laws, he laughed with visitors, he always had an ear for anyone who wanted to know something about where they were and, when needed he was there for a rescue or a helping hand to man or beast.

I recall one time while visiting he and I took a few days to climb up Mount Bogart. First hiking up the Ribbon Creek and then after a hard day of climbing coming back to the cabin right about twilight and finding a church camp group in distress. One of their youngsters had twisted his ankle severely and needed help climbing down from the neighboring pass.

I witnessed my father jump to the call that day.

Be it a Ranger protecting endangered species in Africa from poachers, protecting pristine waterways or forests from careless individuals or a Ranger who takes her time to sit with kids car camping in her park to tell them a goofy story of the shenanigans of the resident chipmunk – they are all dedicated to their jobs as steward of the land or water.

So on this day I challenge everyone to think what it would take to “bring out the Ranger” in your environmental education practices.

Thank a Ranger next time you go camping or visit a park for making that place so special.

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