Running a state park is like running a small town. Many of our parks have water and waste water plants, there are facilities to repair, natural resources to manage, police to protect our visitors and facilities. You get the idea. Unlike small towns we don't have the luxury of staff that specialize in those areas. Years ago you might have said a Park Ranger was a jack of all trades. Today, they need to be experts in them. The new Ranger Academy will coordinate all of the Virginia State Park training efforts.
You might imagine that our State Parks are busiest in the summer. Visitation is also high in the spring and fall without our seasonal staff to supplement our workforce. That means training activities need to be held in the winter. The last several weeks have been filled with various training programs for our staff.
Thirty-three employees attended the Ranger Academy Orientation Training last week. Due to budget issues, this training had not been held since 2008 so a number of the attendees had been working as full time employees for a few years. The purpose of this training is to give an introduction to all aspects of Virginia State Parks. It helps the employee understand the history and culture of the park system and what goes on in operational areas they might not be involved in.
Enjoy this slideshow of the Ranger Academy Orientation Training
The Orientation Training topics included: Park culture, customer service, resource management, visitor experience planning, park master planning, maintenance project management, operation and maintenance standards, employee health and safety, law enforcement, uniform policy, budget development and tracking, cash management, financial management, retain management, reservations, marketing, media relations, community relations, volunteers and alternative labor, and human resources. Additionally, attendees were divided into groups to do a table top exercise that involved planning a special event. The training concluded with their presentations. To make the exercise realistic, each group received several "wrenches" they had to handle.
Ranger Academy Orientation Training attendees, committee members and instructors
In addition to the orientation training, training events held already this year include Advanced Skills for Visitor Experience Planning and Law Enforcement Supervisor In-Service Training (several sessions are held in the winter to include all of our law enforcement staff). Site Safety Manager training will be held this coming week.