In the United States, there are over 400 national park sites within the National Park System, and a new picture book showcases the importance of the work done by the dedicated rangers to keep these areas maintained and preserved. Catherine Stier’s If I Were a Park Ranger, with illustrations by Patrick Corrigan, gives a fun peek into the myriad of responsibilities held by park rangers and even encourages kids about how to pursue such a career!
Starting off, several key figures in the history of the NPS are highlighted, including the founding directors, Stephen Mather and Horace Albright, and financier John D. Rockefeller Jr., along with Captain Charles Young, the first African American superintendent of a national park and Gerard Baker, a Native American superintendent who helped preserve native heritage in the parks. From there, many aspects of the work of park rangers are explored, with a focus on the diversity of the parks as a group. While some parks exist within areas of natural wonders such as mountains, caves, or seashores, others are at historic battlefield sites or presidential childhood homes. Just as the sites vary, so do the responsibilities of their stewards. Whether focused on public safety, natural preservation, education, research, or more, park rangers all provide an invaluable public service.
As these parts of the job are described, different NPS sites are featured in the illustrations from the most famous, such as Grand Canyon National Park in AZ and Mount Rushmore National Memorial in SD, to others that may be less known. The illustrations are bright and cheery featuring a group of happy children as uniformed park rangers. This book is a lovely introduction of the value of our National Park System for young readers, and it may spark enthusiasm and appreciation of natural resources. Be sure to check out the Author’s Note in the end for extended information about the research, education, and art initiatives that are integral in the NPS, as well as the suggestions for kids interested in becoming a park ranger when they get older.