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Ask a Ranger

A view from Pilot Mountain State Park

Ask a Ranger

Ranger Crystal and Ranger Jess host a monthly podcast that answer a variety of questions about North Carolina State Parks.

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To listen to the episodes, visit our BuzzSprout page or click each headline below.

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Ask a Ranger: Freetown and Shaffer Tract Portion of Mayo River State Park

This episode is part of a series that will tell the histories of portions of Mayo River State Park before these tracts of land became the park. It is a brief synopsis of a larger history of the surrounding area.

This is an early release as Fletcher's health is declining, and we want to make sure he can hear his contribution. Thank you to our historians: Fletcher Dalton, Bob Carter, and Kitty Williams. It was such a pleasure to sit and speak with you all.


Ask a Ranger: Deserts, Burros, and Stacked Rocks

Last year, while in Reno, Nev., for the Park Rangers Association of California's annual meeting, we sat down with Ranger David! He's a park ranger at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park (right outside Las Vegas). He tells us what it's like being a desert park ranger!


Ask a Ranger: Bottlenose Dolphin Conservation with Jess Taylor

This month, we chat with Jess Taylor, who is the Director of the Outer Banks Center for Dolphin Research! They have internship opportunities that will be posted on their website starting in January! Please enjoy this episode learning about bottlenose dolphins and the steps that are being taken to gain more information on their populations off the coast of North Carolina.


Ask a Ranger: Reedy Creek State Park; A Personal History of Segregation

James Johnson grew up in William B. Umstead State Park in Raleigh, North Carolina during Jim Crow laws and segregation. At that point, there were two separate parks: Crabtree Creek State Park and Reedy Creek State Park. His father, James Johnson, was one of three African American park superintendents for the three segregated NC State Parks. This is a fascinating conversation on many levels. James Johnson is a great history and storyteller of North Carolina and Raleigh/Cary history.


Ask a Ranger: Stagville State Historic Site

Ranger Jess and Ranger Crystal sit down with the site manager of the Stagville State Historic Site in Durham, NC to discuss why it's important to talk about slavery and its impact on the country.


Ask a Ranger: Sea Turtle Internship at Hammocks Beach State Park

Ranger Renee is back to sit down with us and let us in on one of NC State Parks' coolest opportunities for students – a sea turtle summer internship! Listen in to find out how you can be a part of helping the critically endangered loggerhead turtles.


Ask a Ranger: The Den Owners Association

Ranger Crystal travels to Yates Mill, a Wake County park, to help Ranger Rebeccah get things lined up for the annual Den Owners Association meeting. Listen in as they hike and canoe around Yates Mill, and chat with everyone from otters to toads and squirrels to grumpy ole Walter the groundhog. You will learn some interesting facts about many of the Yates Mill residents and concerns of den dwellers.


Ask a Ranger: Edible Plants

In this episode of Ask a Ranger, we sit down with Ranger Neil who will chat with us about edible plants.

Disclaimer: This episode is intended as a brief introduction to edible plants. We do not advise anyone to go out and try plant life without proper and intensive education and technical ID knowledge of plant life.


Ask a Ranger: Prehistoric Mammals

We sit down with Dr. Kammerer from the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and explore what prehistoric mammals roamed North Carolina BEFORE the age of dinosaurs.


Ask a Ranger: A Hike at Franklin Mountains State Park, El Paso, Texas

Yay! Another episode with Lydia Pagel from Franklin Mountain State Park in El Paso, Texas. In this episode, Ranger Jess gets to tap into her inner 7-year-old and ask Ranger Lydia Pagel, "What's that? What's this?" all the way up the mountain. We find out how Franklin Mountain State Park is like our very own Mount Mitchell State Park, how some of the different flora you will find on this mountain compares to ones on our mountains, and how little herds of tiny hippo-related mammals inhabit Franklin Mountain as their home.


Ask a Ranger: Exploring Park Ranger Careers in State and National Parks

We sat down with Ranger Austin Paul who has been fortunate enough to have experienced being a park ranger in both state parks and national parks. He takes us on the journey that led him to both state parks and national parks, as well as some of the similarities and differences between state and national parks.


Ask a Ranger: Japan Parks with Ranger Naoki

Welcome to the start of our third year and third season for the Ask a Ranger podcast. For this episode, we return back to the beginning, when Ranger Jess was just starting to fuss with the recording and editing equipment. Ranger Jess has been hanging onto this interview from her trip to Japan for a couple of years, wanting to release it because Naoki was such a great guest with wonderful information, but holding onto it because, well, the quality of the recording was not great. So because this is a reflection on how far we have come, we though our listeners, who have been loyal and patient from the start, would be willing to bear with the quality of the recording in order to listen to his wonderful park ranger from Japan. Thank you for coming on this journey with us! And a huge thank you to Naoki for your warm welcome and willingness to conduct an interview with a newbie to the podcasting world. Thank you Naoki!


Ask a Ranger: Prehistoric Sharks with Dr. Kammerer

Let's go back in time, to a time where prehistoric sharks swam the ocean, some with a spiral of bottom teeth, some with bony protrusions off the top of their head, and one that was 30 times larger than a great white shark! We sit down with Dr. Christian Kammerer from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and pick his brain about all the wonderful and wondrous prehistoric sharks that lived in the ocean well before our time.


Ask a Ranger: Hank the Hognose Snake Sets the Record Straight

Hank the hognose snake asked us to do a quick podcast release to set the record straight on the rumors of "Zombie Hognose Snakes" in North Carolina. So for this #factcheckfriday we chat with Hank the hognose snake and find out about this misnomer and the TRUTH about Hank and other hognose snakes like him.


Ask a Ranger: Franklin Mountains State Park – El Paso, TX

Ranger Jess took a trip out west and was able to explore Franklin Mountains State Park with Park Ranger Lydia Pagel. After, they sat down and Ranger Lydia talked about her journey into becoming a park ranger at Franklin Mountains as the Education Ranger.


Ask a Ranger: Good Fire

Join us for a discussion with Ranger Scott about what prescribed fires are and why they are so important to the forest.


Ask a Ranger: What Does Recreation Really Mean?

In this Ask a Ranger episode, Rangers Crystal and Jess sit down and chat with David Rogers, director of UNC's Carolina Outdoor Recreation Center. David helps us explore not just the idea of recreation, but the relevance and connection to the human soul that recreation provides us.


Ask a Ranger: Ranger Jess Takes a Trip Out West

In this episode, Ranger Jess is out in the western United States exploring Bureau of Land Management lands with BLM Park Ranger Daniella Barazza. Join Ranger Jess as she sits down with Ranger Daniella and delves into the beauty and intrigue of New Mexico's Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument and Prehistoric Trackways National Monument.


Ask a Ranger: Music and Environmental Education

Tune in with us this month and sing along with this musical Ask a Ranger Podcast episode: Music and Environmental Education. Ranger Keith shares with us how to connect outdoor education and music.


Ask a Ranger: Hiking 101

Lucky us! We get to sit down and chat with Ranger Kim from Eno River State Park again! This time, she makes sure Ranger Jess, who is about to go on a hike, is prepared for a safe and fun hike at Eno River State Park. Listen in and find out all the hiking essentials so your next hike will be safe and fun!


Ask a Ranger: SSSSSSnakes Alive!

In this episode, we chat with the affable Ranger Kevin about his favorite animal – SNAKES! Ranger Kevin delves into the wonderful world of snakes and helps demystify some of the myths and fears that sometimes surround these wonderful creatures.


Ask a Ranger: Howling Coyotes

Listen in as Rangers Crystal, Jess and Kevin sit around a campfire and demystify the often misunderstood coyote.


Ask a Ranger: Wall Climbing Eels!

In this episode Ranger Crystal and Ranger Jess delve into the wonderful and mysterious world of the American eel. Listen in as Ranger Crystal and Ranger Jess explore the research history, ecology, and behaviors of this awesome species of fish!


Ask a Ranger: Archaeology Dig at Lumber River

Ranger Jess learns the difference between archaeology and paleontology with Assistant State Archaeologist Mary Beth Fitts and helps with an archaeology survey area down at Lumber River State Park.


Ask a Ranger: Yates Mill Pond

Many of our North Carolina state parks were affected by gristmills and millponds that were created in and around our North Carolina communities. We do not have any working gristmills in North Carolina state parks, so Ranger Jess and Ranger Crystal traveled to a Wake County park in Raleigh, Yates Mill Pond, to talk all things millpond and gristmill. From how a gristmill works and the community aspects of a gristmill and millpond, to the nature that is in and around a millpond — Ranger Rebeccah Cope educates on it all!


Ask a Ranger: Christmas in JULY!

Ever wondered what to do with your tree after the holidays? The families around Fort Macon have a time-honored tradition of gifting their tree to the dunes around the fort. Join us as we discuss this program with Park Superintendent Randy Newman.


Ask a Ranger: Solar Energy

In this episode, Ranger Nick discusses renewable energy and, in particular, the power of solar energy.


Ask a Ranger: Maggie the Dolphin

Ranger Renee Evans talks about her discovery of a dolphin that washed up on the shores of Bear Island and the steps her and others are taking to use the dolphin's skeleton as an educational tool for Hammocks Beach State Park.


Ask a Ranger: Wave the Loggerhead's 50th Birthday Bash

Take a road trip with Ranger Crystal and Ranger Jess as they bring Terrance the Turtle and Snooty the Snapper down to the 50th birthday party for Wave the Loggerhead. Meet a few different types of species of turtle native to North Carolina and laugh at the antics of Snooty and her cousin Shirley.


Ask a Ranger: Water Safety

Our guest for this episode of the Ask a Ranger Podcast is the stupendous Ranger Jake from Hammocks Beach State Park. In this episode, we cover the basics of what you need to have a safe and fantastic trip on your next canoe, kayak or paddleboard excursion.


Ask a Ranger: Cannons

In this episode of Ask a Ranger, Ranger Paul Terry lets us in on the secret to the cannons at Fort Macon — teamwork! Learn all about the various cannons at Fort Macon State Park and how the replicas went from an idea to a reality.


Ask a Ranger: Here Fishy, Fishy

During this episode, we discuss the North Carolina State Parks education theme for 2018 — the year of the FISH!!! We talk with Ranger Brian Swanson about fish and fun crafts you can do with — you guessed it — FISH! Who knew there were crafts you can do with actual fish?


Ask a Ranger: Camping

The peace of the woods, the crackle of the campfire, trying different s'mores recipes — who amongst us doesn't love camping? From its past as a necessary part of exploration to its present status as an excursion and break from our daily lives, camping is something that is held near and dear by most people who do it. Whether you enjoy camping in a van or living out of a backpack for a week, camping is personal and treasured by us all. In this podcast, we discuss everything from wearing socks while sleeping to a perfect camping environment. Join Rangers Jess and Crystal and guest Ranger Brian as we discuss the finer side of camping and maybe even share a couple of our favorite camping hacks to make your experience even better.


Ask a Ranger: Winter Wonderland

Ranger Crystal is out in the winter bluster interviewing a few of our animal friends to find out how they survive a North Carolina winter.


Ask a Ranger: NC State Parks Year of the Spider 2017

In this episode, we wrap the year up talking with our Piedmont Region Education Specialist Brian Bockhahn about the North Carolina State Parks theme for 2017 — spiders!!! Brian helps us dispel spider myths, expands our minds about the wonderful world of spiders and helps us develop an even greater curiosity about these wonderful arachnids!!


Ask a Ranger: Night Hike... Wait! What was THAT sound?!

Ranger Jess is a little nervous hiking at night, but NEVER FEAR, Ranger Crystal is here! Ranger Crystal is taking Ranger Jess and you on a night hike to demystify the sounds and the animals that make them. Come, join us and take a virtual night hike!


Ask a Ranger: Campfire-Ready Ghost Stories!

In this episode of Ask a Ranger Podcast, join Ranger Crystal and Ranger Jess as they recount personal ghost stories and tell spooky North Carolina ghost stories. This is perfect for your camping trip to a North Carolina State Park — ready to be played or retold around your campfires.


Ask a Ranger: What Does a Park Ranger Do?

In this episode of Ask a Ranger, we will delve into all the things a North Carolina Park Ranger does. Our guest is Superintendent Joe Shimel from New River State Park in Laurel Springs, N.C.