Becoming A Maryland Park Ranger
Creating the next generation of rangers
This document defines the procedure to establish the future generation of rangers in the Maryland Park Service. Extensive background information exists in regard to the role of rangers in Maryland’s history as well as the role of the ranger in the stewardship of state forests and parks. While that background information is helpful in understanding the qualities of this special team, and will be useful as a part of the ranger’s curriculum, the intention of this document is to provide guidance to establishing the future corps of rangers.
For the past 30 years, rangers have been associated with law enforcement duties in addition to a wide array of other responsibilities. The enforcement work of the rangers was especially necessary due to the declining character of human behavior in state parks and other properties managed by the rangers. Maryland rangers became a well-trained, exceptionally competent team of enforcement officers who cleaned the lands of significant illegal activities.
The enforcement duties and the former ranger staff have now been assigned elsewhere in the department. This change creates the opportunity to redesign the function of rangers in Maryland’s state parks. For most of the past 100 years, rangers have been resource and service professionals, in a civilian capacity. They will continue to be a recognized icon of the department. We now shall construct a new team of elite employees.
The law enforcement employees of the Maryland Park Service who currently possess the title ranger shall retain that role for the remainder of their careers. If such employees decide to voluntarily surrender their police commission, they may still retain the title of ranger. This team of rangers shall serve as the mentors in the creation of the new generation of civilian rangers.
The assignment of the title “Maryland Park Ranger” will be based upon demonstrated ability and the successful achievement of required fields of skilled work. An employee may attain this title by hard work and demonstrated skill. No longer will someone walk into work on their first day and become a member of our full time ranger force. This title will not include any increase in pay or benefits, and does not ensure career advancement.
The following definition shall continue to serve as a guideline to rangers:
A Maryland Ranger devotes professional responsibility for stewardship and protection of Maryland’s natural and historic resources. In carrying out that duty, a Ranger incorporates education, enforcement, management, conservation, or some combination of these skills in regular interaction with the public.
The definition may generate some questions, especially in regard to the organizational changes currently affecting the Maryland Park Service. The reference to enforcement includes two purposes. First, the remaining law enforcement officer rangers certainly shall continue to use law enforcement in their regular course of duty. Second, the Maryland Park Service does enforce policy and regulation, at times through the work of a partner, so the ranger shall continue to use enforcement as a means to carry out their professional responsibility.
The title “Maryland Park Ranger” will be gained through the following process:
The following are the required skills and accomplishments that an employee must achieve in order to be appointed as a Maryland Park Ranger:
- The Superintendent’s approval must be obtained before the employee can become a “ranger candidate”. The approval is obtained by sending a letter of request that includes a supporting correspondence from the senior staff member who is at the top of the employee’s chain of command
- Once the Superintendent approves the designation of a ranger candidate, a ranger mentor/trainer shall be appointed from among the corps of Maryland Park Rangers. The mentor’s task is to ensure that the candidate successfully demonstrates the required skills, and the characteristics of a Maryland Park Ranger.
- The candidate must work at least 6 months and go through one performance cycle. The most recent performance rating must be at least satisfactory/meets standards
- Demonstrated expertise to the assigned mentor in ten specific functions of ranger work as described below in this document.
- Demonstrated expertise to the assigned mentor in five approved “elective” functions of ranger work. The electives must be selected from the list provided in this document or must be approved by the Superintendent or their designee.
- Once the above actions are successfully achieved, a ranger-candidate shall meet with a panel that includes three rangers who are also member of the Maryland Park Service senior staff. The Superintendent or their designee shall appoint that panel.
- Knowledge of Maryland Geography & History - Demonstrated expertise in the geography and history of Maryland. Anyone who has successfully passed the Maryland Office of Tourism Development Welcome Center National Certification Training Program (NCTP) will have met this requirement. An In-Service test may be completed by the employee. The test is available by the mentor’s request from the MPS Training Division.
- Knowledge of Maryland Park Service & Park Ranger History. Demonstrate knowledge of the MPS history. An In-Service test may be completed by the employee. The test is available by the mentor’s request from the MPS Training Division
- Successfully pass the Introduction to Search & Rescue course. Complete the 2-day ISAR course.
- Certified in CPR & First Responder (must attend required In-Service training). Complete the 40-hour CPR/1st Responder entry level course.
- Knowledge and ability in the field of Incident Command. Complete the online ICS 100 & ICS 700 courses.
- Basic skills in Natural / Cultural / Historical Interpretation. Attend Seasonal Interpretation School, Interpretive In-Service classes, Scales & Tales training or other related training. Must be able to demonstrate expertise in interpretive skills.
- Visitor Services skills. Complete the NAI Certified Interpretive Host training. Demonstrate visitor service / hospitality skills.
- Successful completion of Ranger School, Stewardship School or Operations School
- Knowledge in at least (3) Professional Maintenance skill areas. Completion of (3) Maintenance Workshops. Demonstrate maintenance knowledge & skills.
- Voluntary Compliance skills. Complete the 6-hour Voluntary Compliance course. Demonstrate skills in the workplace.
Required Elective Training:
- EMT Certification – complete course
- Wildland Fire Training – complete I130 or I190 course
- Canoe Certification – complete ACA course
- National Interpretive Certification – complete Certified Interpretive Guide / Trainer course
- Boundary Management Expertise – demonstrate expertise
- Resource Management Expertise – demonstrate / complete resource management related course / project / trail maintenance expertise
- Leave No Trace – complete LNT course
- Waterfront Management Certification – complete 8-hour Red Cross Lifeguard Management Certification course
- Hunter Safety Instructor – complete the Hunter Safety Instructor course and teach at least (1) class per year
- Boating Safety Instructor – complete the Boating Safety Instructor course and teach at least (1) class per year
- Living History Expertise – complete MPS Living History course and participate in at least (1) historic program or portrayal per year
- Historic Weapons Safety Officer – complete training and participate as a Safety Officer at a MPS event
- Leadership Development Training – complete training
- Fundamentals of Search & Rescue – complete a FUNSAR level leadership course
- Pesticide Applicator – complete training and maintain license
- Water Treatment Technician – complete training and maintain license
- Commercial Driver’s License – complete training and maintain license
- Heavy Equipment Operator – demonstrate expertise in equipment operation
- Certified Instructor – completion of instructor training related to MPS needs
- Other Training Certifications – must relate to MPS needs
Employees who earn the title Maryland Park Ranger shall be permitted to where distinctive identifiers and symbols on the service issued uniform. The ranger badge shall remain the law enforcement shield for the law enforcement rangers. However, that shield shall evolve into the premier symbol of the Maryland Park Ranger, with each of the points of the badge representing a characteristic of the ranger. The civilian ranger shall not wear a badge of authority at any time.
The Stetson hat will become the premier uniform symbol of the Maryland Park Ranger. The Stetson has a long tradition as an icon of rangers, a tradition that shall become a point of honor among this special team of employees.
Note: There may be identity confusion regarding law enforcement rangers and civilian rangers. The Maryland Park Service will take steps to minimize any misunderstandings, but the confusion may ultimately occur. That remains a characteristic of the evolution underway in the Maryland Park Service.
Note: There are currently some employees of the Maryland Park Service who have previously demonstrated all of the skills, knowledge, and ability described in the requirements to be a Maryland Park Ranger. In such cases, the Superintendent may grant them the ranger title without the redundant requirement to demonstrate the above skills.
Note: Long Term Contractual employees are encouraged and may accomplish the requirements to become a Maryland Park Ranger, but must become classified to be assigned the title “Maryland Park Ranger”.
Note: Volunteer Rangers and Junior Rangers are abundant throughout the state. In each case, those individuals are required to complete specific tasks and/or demonstrate identified skills in order to gain the honor of the ranger title. That process shall remain part of the Maryland Park Service, and while related to the Maryland Park Ranger, the process for Volunteer Rangers and Junior Rangers shall remain distinct.
Note: Seasonal Park Rangers will continue to be identified among the workforce throughout the state. A specific procedure will be identified in the Maryland Park Service that enables employees to earn and use the title Seasonal Park Ranger.