By CHELSEA DRISKELL
Three ProRanger cadets at this college agree that being in the ProRanger program has prepared them for a career as a ranger in national parks.
The two-year ProRanger program offers two 12-week paid internships at a national park in the United States.
These internships are paid in full by the National Park Service, which starts at about $12 an hour for 40 hours a week.
About 15 students are chosen per semester.
Experiences among students at various locations for the ProRanger internships this summer were similar.
Rosileen Ferioli, ProRanger cadet and former intern at San Juan National Historic Site, in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, said their internships and their classes prepare them for what to expect in the national parks as well as how to prepare a résumé, how to deal with other people and how to improve fitness.
The program helps mold them into the employees they want to be, she said.
San Juan National Historic Park includes the forts of Castillo San Cristobal, Fortin San Juan de la Cruz, Castillo San Felipe Del Morro and parts of the city walls.
These massive forts date back to the 1600s and were created to protect the “New World.”
San Juan is one of the oldest cities in the U.S. territory.
“My favorite experience was going to the shooting ranges and learning the step process of shooting a gun,” Ferioli said. “I had the opportunity to learn how to use them from experienced federal law enforcement officials from two different agencies.”
Ferioli said it was important for interns to stand out.
“Be open and willing to learn. Take advantage of the class. Take initiative and be willing to do anything. Learn everything you can about the parks. In order to move up, you have to stand out.”
Clifton Henning, former ProRanger intern at Big Thicket National Preserve in Kountze, said his best experience was the canoe trips on Village Creek in Silsbee.
Big Thicket National Preserve, the first national preserve in the National Park System, its known for it unique biological diversity containing species that are endangered or threatened.
“I fell into the creek about seven times on different occasions,” he said. “I eventually learned how to do it pretty well. Everybody on those trips had fun and enjoyed each other.”
Some things he just could not prepare for, Hennings said.
“I came across a search and rescue for a teenage boy. The end result was that the boy drowned. Some kids were crossing a river when one lost balance. He was found stuck between two logs.
“To see the family’s expression was something that I was not prepared for.”
Nathaniel Moreno, former ProRanger intern at the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, said his favorite experience was climbing to the top of Mount Rushmore for patrol every day.
The Black Hills includes a carving of four presidents of the United States.
These carvings include George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
“It was something I had always dreamt about, to have the opportunity to go up there and be a part of history and get to see the view from that perspective,” Moreno said. “The view is absolutely amazing. Most people will never get to say they had the chance to see that because it’s a closed area. It is something I will never forget.”
He had advice for others. “My advice to future interns would be to take a chance. You never know what’s in front of you until you actually do it. Pull up your boots and go with it. See what can happen. Take the opportunities.”
The ProRanger class meets 3 p.m.-6 p.m. Thursdays in Oppenheimer Academic Center.
For more information, call Dr. Lavell Merritt, program manager, at 210-486-1701.