The state parks system has a mandate to protect the natural resources contained in the state parks and to educate the public about those resources.
Resource protection is part of the job of every ranger and park superintendent, but they’re guided by a staff of resource protection specialists. These specialists are required to have bachelor’s degrees in related fields such as biology or environmental science, and they very often have advanced degrees. They’re involved in such things as prescribed burn programs, invasive species control, wildlife management and species inventory. They often work alongside researchers from universities or other state programs and they work with local governments on resource issues that extend beyond park boundaries. They make sure that good science is part of the decision-making process in the state parks. The parks system also has similar specialists for trails development in its State Trails Program as well as land acquisition specialists.
The parks system also has a cadre of interpretive and education specialists. They also have backgrounds in natural science, but often also have skills in communications, photography and graphics. These specialists work with park rangers to create interpretive programs for park visitors and school classes as well as outdoor displays and exhibits in the parks’ visitor centers.
Exhibits are such an important part of environmental education that the parks system has a team of exhibit coordinators. Under the direction of a curator, the team collaborates with rangers to develop themes into museum-quality exhibits on natural history and cultural history. They also work closely with contractors who build the exhibit halls and exhibit centers.