A View From the Overlook: “How Do You Get A Permanent Job With The NPS?”

A ranger's job, and how to get one, have both changed quite a bit since these ranger's posed for a photo at Mt. Rainier in the 1930s. NPS photo.

“How Do You Get A Permanent Job With The NPS?”

This is a frequently asked question, neighbors! If the National Parks are “America’s Best Idea,” then it logically follows that the agency that services the National Parks, that is, The National Park Service, is the best damn bureaucracy in the world, and (therefore) NPS rangers, including myself, are the best damn bureaucrats in the world. (There is a flaw in logic in there somewhere, but you get the drift.)

Everyone enjoys basking in the reflected glory of an elite organization; this is one of the many reasons for the popularity of both the National Park Service and the U.S. Marine Corps. (Admittedly, the Marine Corps is easier to get into.)

Another reason for NPS employment popularity is Positive Feedback: People actually like you and like what you’re doing. Many of the federal agencies are regulatory, which means you have an established Enemies List, people that hate you automatically, even before you arrive at work at eight in the morning. Not so in the case of the NPS (except for Tea Party fanatics!)

Consider the Internal Revenue Service. Have you ever wondered why the IRS does not have a “Junior IRS Agent” program similar to the Park Service’s Junior Ranger Program, in which aspiring juvenile IRS agents could conduct mock audits of the neighbors? No? I thought not. The same is true of the CIA.

A third reason for NPS job popularity is the physical setting.“Vignettes of Primeval America, at the point of European contact: Towering trees! Thundering waterfalls! Limitless vistas!"

No doubt about it, friends, the NPS is a feel-good agency that many people would like to join, and they are not easily dissuaded.

Recall the last cocktail party you attended. After the host has introduced you as a retired or active member of the NPS, you will be asked two questions: (A) “What is your favorite bear story? (Pretty difficult if you were at Statue of Liberty), and (B) "How can my (son, daughter, grandchild) get a job with the NPS?”

Now the answer to question B is complicated, ambiguous and fluid.

You might like to hedge, particularly if you are feeling a tad malicious.

“Do you want your child to be happy?” you might solemnly inquire.

The answer will, of course, be “Yes! Yes!” (America being the first country to be founded on the “Pursuit of Happiness" as a goal.)

“Then,” you reply, “Your child should get a job as a Federal Prison Guard.”

Your questioner will be appalled.

No, you have not taken leave of your senses due to Sequestration Frustration; you are merely alluding to a famous yearly study by The Partnership for Public Service in which they ranked the various federal agencies as “The Best Places to Work.”

Now the NPS has never done particularly well in this survey, landing somewhere in the low middle. One notable year, the Federal Bureau of Prisons was found to be a happier place to work than the NPS.Why is this the case?

Actually, it is an unfair comparison. You see, there is a difference in expectations.

A person who applies for a job as a prison guard has rather low expectation of approval by the clientele he serves. Most federal prisons are located in rural, low rent areas with few permanent jobs. Our prison guard candidate will be looking for a favorable retirement and medical package rather than Spiritual Fulfillment. In addition, he/she will be pleasantly surprised that they were not murdered the first day on the job. Every day after that is an improvement.

The NPS seasonal acolyte, on the other hand, has high expectations. If only he/she can enter the Nirvana of permanent employment in “The best job in the world,” our Newbie expects 30 years of blissful contentment. What they fail to realize is that the National Parks are not administered by “towering trees or thundering waterfalls,” or even by a John Muir clone, but by rather fallible and ordinary human beings. There will be difficulties and frustrations.

When approached by young men or women desiring a career in the National Park Service, Roger Siglin, former Chief Ranger of Yellowstone and Superintendent of Gates of Arctic National Park, would ask, “What is your second choice for a lifetime career?” They rarely had one. One should have a back-up plan, unless one is wearing a suicide vest.

“Yes, I know that!” our acolyte exclaims irritably. “I understand that the NPS has some serious personnel management problems, but I am different! Once I become permanent, I will reform the organization from top to bottom (WASO is clearly shaking in its boots!), BUT FIRST I NEED TO GET A PERMANENT JOB WITH THE NPS!”

Thereupon hangs many a frustration, neighbors! There are many rumors abounding that “One must know someone” before the Holy Grail of a permanent position can be grasped, or that certain jobs are “wired” for certain individuals or certain minority groups.

“Outsiders,” those brave, noble souls who are not part of the “Conspiracy,” are condemned to wander forevermore in the Twilight Zone of seasonal employment or working for free as a volunteer. Since the NPS is one of the more gossipy agencies of the Federal Government, rumors abound. Some of them are true.

It is true there is malfeasance and corruption in the obtaining of government jobs, but less so than in the rip-roaring, wide-open period after the Civil War known as the Gilded Age, when everything seemed for sale, even if seller didn’t own it. Federal jobs were just some of the merchandise available. People worked for political parties and voted for candidates not because they were interested in Good Government and Progress, but because they wanted the postmaster’s job in their town or the lighthouse tender’s job, or wanted to be the lucky chap that handed out land to railroads.

This was called Patronage, and constituted a venality tax on just about everyone as the wheels of government ground slower and slower. The various presidents of the Gilded Age may not have been personally corrupt, but many of their appointees certainly were, and the country was shot through with graft from top to bottom.

How were we to get out of the Civil Service corruption trap that even today bedevils most of the poverty stricken countries of the Third World?

“If in doubt, ask a ranger!" So, I asked Ranger Todd Arrington of James Garfield National Historic Site in Mentor, Ohio to clear things up for us. You see, in addition to being in charge of the tallest tree and tallest mountain in America, the National Park Service is in charge of American history. If you are interested in the history of the light bulb, you contact Thomas Edison National Historic Site; if you are interested in Civil Service corruption, you contact James Garfield National Historic Site. It seems that President Garfield died for our sins.

Here is what Ranger Todd had to say:

“…Civil Service Reform was something that was awaiting James A. Garfield when he became President in 1881. Garfield was inclined to agree that some reform to the civil service system was necessary to get rid of patronage and replace it with a merit-based system in which only qualified candidates who passed exams could receive appointments to federal positions. However, Garfield became much more adamant about this need after his election to the presidency, when he was almost immediately bombarded by letters and visits from people seeking jobs. Very few of these individuals had any real qualifications for the positions they sought and to which they felt entitled simply because they were Republicans or knew someone who knew a Congressman, etc.

Alternate Text
President James Garfield supported major changes in hiring practices for federal jobs in the 1880s. Library of Congress photo.

This continued after Garfield’s inauguration when he unhappily spent hours each day receiving job seekers. One of those who tried to convince Garfield to appoint him to a position (American Consul to Paris) was Charles J. Guiteau, a mentally unbalanced stalwart Republican who had given a meandering, unimportant speech promoting Garfield in New York and wanted to be rewarded for it.

Guiteau didn’t get the job, and he soon grew concerned about Garfield’s intention to replace the patronage system with a merit system, as the new president engaged in a very public battle with New York’s Senator Roscoe Conkling over who would be appointed to the most prestigious and lucrative patronage job in the country: Collector of the Port of New York.

Charles Guiteau eventually decided the best way to handle this was to murder President Garfield so that Vice President Chester A. Arthur, a New Yorker and Conkling acolyte, would be elevated to the presidency.

Guiteau shot Garfield on July 2, 1881; the wounded President lingered until September 19.Vice President Arthur then became the new president and, to his credit, immediately distanced himself from Conkling. It was President Arthur who signed the Pendleton Act on January 16, 1883. That law reformed the Civil Service, as Garfield had desired, by instituting exams and qualification requirements for those seeking federal jobs. This was the beginning of the end for the patronage system.”

Thank you, Dr. Arrington. You will note that Todd said that it was the beginning of the end, not the end of patronage.

Do we still have Patronage? Sure do, neighbors! Even in the National Park Service? Yup! These are called Schedule C jobs and are awarded to deserving, helpful people by the political party that won the last election. This is sort of a sanitized, “Living History” patronage relic of the Gilded Age, as the Schedule C jobs are relatively few in number and mainly deal with policy. (Nothing secret, neighbors! The Schedule C jobs are listed in a handy little book produced by the US Government Printing Office. It is called “The Plum Book” because, among other things, it has a purple plum colored cover. (Who says the Federal government has no sense of humor?)

But what of our original question: lacking patronage, how DO you get a permanent job with the National Park Service?

Again, James Garfield National Historical Site was most helpful. According to Ranger Arrington:

“Jobs with the federal government, both permanent and temporary, as well as paid internships, are advertised on www.usajobs.gov).">USA JOBS. You may search by the type of job you are interested in and the agency. National Park Service jobs are found under the Department of Interior. Be sure to read the announcement very carefully to determine what documents you will need to submit. On-line submittal of your application is preferred.”

Now is there any other way? (Aside from that of Charles Guiteau).

Well, yes, neighbors, at least for the protection ranger (law enforcement) there is something known as the Pro Ranger Program.

You see, the NPS, along with the rest of the Department of Interior, has a “Diversity” problem. That is, the Department of Interior is the “Whitest” of all the Federal Departments. (It is also regarded by some as the most corrupt, but any cause-and-effect correlation could be interpreted as racist.)

Anyway, how to solve the Diversity problem? Rather than trying to recruit graduates, it was decided to seek colleges with large minority populations and set up a program to steer undergraduates to a guaranteed career in NPS law enforcement.

Undoubtedly, there will be (or are) more colleges, but the ones that show up on Google are Temple University in Philadelphia and the very enterprising San Antonio College, a two-year community college in San Antonio, Texas.

According to the Temple blurb: “Upon graduation from Temple University and successfully completing the Pro Ranger Philadelphia Program, participants are placed in a permanent career tenured law enforcement park ranger position with the National Park Service.”

San Antonio College says, “Rather than recruit or find the next generation of NPS law enforcement rangers, the Pro Ranger Program is a proactive approach to creating them.”

So, neighbors, I guess where your child goes depends on whether he likes Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches or Mexican food!

Comments

What the public should know is that participants in the “pro” ranger program are guaranteed permanent jobs and will be commissioned law enforcement officers in the NPS. If you look at some of the promotional materials for the program you’ll see “Pro” Rangers who say they had never been to a National Park or thought about a career in the NPS until they were approached at their college and talked into doing this. The scuttlebutt in the agency is that none of the graduates of the program have been able to complete the training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center that is normally required of all permanent protection rangers. But the requirement has been waived.

Meanwhile there is a cadre of folks who’ve already finished their education, paid for training that qualifies them as law enforcement officers in the NPS, and they have already proven themselves as rangers at actual NPS sites in temporary seasonal appointments. These are people who've paid a ton of dues. Many have worked as lifeguards or fee collectors in the parks in attempt to get that foot in the door on the way to fulfilling their dream of being a ranger. They have moved from place to place far from family and friends in pursuit of that dream; all the while working with almost no benefits and with the possibility of being let go at any time.

Who do you think is more likely to be the better ranger? Someone who’s struggled for years competing against other applicants nationwide? Or someone who really just happened to be one of a small group of students in the right school at the right time and who said yeah OK I’ll do that after having the opportunity handed to them?

Those familiar with my posts here know that I've often tried to spread the word about how the agency uses temporary employees to do what is permanent work in order to avoid paying benefits. More and more though the agency is using student hires not only with programs like pro ranger but their other program known as “Pathways.” Unlike “Pro” Ranger, Pathways participants are working in parks as they go to school and they are not guaranteed permanent jobs. Also Pathways participants hold jobs in interpretation, resource management, and maintenance. Hopes of an NPS career are kept alive in Pathways participants because the agency has the option of appointing them to a permanent jobs during a short window after they complete the “internship.” Often the park hiring the student has no intention of converting them to permanent status when the "internship" is over. They work at the park until they complete their degree (or take out loans for second degree) and then the next student is moved in and the former one is shown the door. Hiring through the regular competitive process open to all applicants is almost a thing of the past. Why does the agency engage in such a practice? Aren't they just throwing away loads of experience? Well the answer to that is the same as why the agency has so often rotated “seasonal” employees on a year round basis; so that they wouldn't have to pay benefits.

There are many instances of rangers who've served at a particular park for years in seasonal positions and they are being replaced by people who haven’t even completed their education.

The bottom line is that if you want a career in the NPS the way to do it is to somehow make a supervisor aware of you and get them to like you. Then they might figure out some way to work the system to get you in. Almost no one comes though the front door anymore. Almost all hiring is done through the backdoor through the use of the various "special hiring authorities"

What is needed is the creation of a special hiring authority for those with the most merit. Passage of this bill may be one way to do that I enrage everyone to sign this petition: http://www.nffe.org/ht/display/ArticleDetails/i/100811/pid/176

I am convinced that the way around this issue is to go back to the Federal Service Entrance Exam which many of us had to take to get into Federal Service. It was a glorified iq test. The ones with the highest scores were first referrred to the agency. Lower scores were either not referreed or referred later. Yes, it was discriminatory as it favored those with the most education but I knew many college graduates who could not pass it, And after all, some federal jobs do require some intelligence.

Rick

Mr. Smith, I’m glad there is something we can finally agree on. Having clear, objective, benchmarks where everyone can compete is the right way to go. I am sure the fear is though if we did as you recommend your friend Director Jarvis would not be able meet his goal of getting more minorities into an NPS uniform --his "call to action" item #36. I am not so sure that is true. Reducing the role of cronyism in hiring can’t help but bring in more minorities. However I don’t think it would immediately result in as many as the administration wants. And so the agency openly states in internal documents that supervisors are to use heretofore rarely used “special hiring authorities” to get more racial and ethnic minorities jobs in the parks even when there are other more higly qualifed applicants.

The Pro Ranger program has been scrutinized so much by those current NPS LE Rangers that just this week the US Park Ranger Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police (a national organization representing law enforcement officers) began an investigation into the program. Many of the complaints include things like why is the NPS paying students to attend training when there have been literally thousands that did it for free? There are hundreds of current seasonal LE Rangers who want a permanent job and are experienced yet these Pro Rangers are given permanent LE positions after working a 2.5-3 month LE "season." The NPS has seen a huge decline in the budget, why start a new program that costs millions of dollars when there are already hundreds of seasonal LE Rangers working in the parks.

It would be one thing if it was hard to recruit seasonal or permanent LE Rangers, but it isn't. There are more seasonal LE Rangers with active LE commissions then there are seasonal LE Ranger positions.

And you wonder why the NPS continues to see a decline in the view of the workplace?

I'm with Rick. The FSEE was a fair and unbiased way to determining qualifications. I remember the days back when vets were returning from Viet Nam and civil rights were the first reasons given for watering down and finally eliminating FSEE. Things have changed considerably. Perhaps it's time to go back to something similar.

But instead of casting blame entirely upon Jon Jarvis, don't all those programs date to far before his time? Where are the real roots of those programs? Perhaps Dr. Runte could give us some insight. I'm reading his book National Parks: The American Experience right now and just checked the index, but found nothing about such things.

Surely there must be someone out there who could educate all of us.

As long as the "face" of the NPS doesn't look like America's, there will be pressure to bring in those who have, for one reason or another, been excluded from employment with the agency. I think there was in EO offce in every park and region in which I worked. And Lee is correct, these programs started long before Jarvis' time. That's why most seasonal law enforcement programs are located at schools that primarily serve students who have not been attracted to the NPS before. It was the idea from the beginning.

And, oh by the way, I know Director Jarvis but I wouldn't consider us buddies. Perp seasonal, I think your sentence would have read as well without "your friend:"

Rick

Point taken Mr. Smith on the "your friend" comment. Pro Ranger is new and was started under Jarvis. The Pathways program is also new and was ordered by the current President and has been embraced wholeheartedly by the NPS leadership. The manipulation of a few loop holes in what was supposed to be a merit based hiring system; making those loop holes into the primary source of new permanent employees; is entirely a policy direction from the current director and the current administration. It was President Obama who as one of his first acts ordered the elimination of KSA essays to rate job applicants. Jarvis said in his speech introducing his "Call to Action" program that he intended not to seek new authorities to carry out this agenda but would take current laws and regulations and interpret them in creative ways to get the desired outcomes.

I would also add that no one has been excluded from employment because of minority status in a couple of generations. In fact, for the few minorities who wanted a career in the NPS I think it is probable that its been an aid to their careers. It is just a matter of cultural differences that tend to take them down a different path. There are no offical barriers put up by the agency and I don't know that there ever has been.

I will also add that Pro Ranger is different from the old seasonal academies because its participants must be full time students and must be residents of the city the school is in. To attend a seasonal academy students faced no such residency requirement and were on their own as far as getting employment --nothing was guaranteed. People came from all over the country to attend for the several months of training that qualifies one for a seasonal LE commission. Most of them them are people who've already completed at least an undergraduate degree.

The third Pro Ranger school not mentioned in the article in in Browning Montana. Can anyone guess what it is about the tiny community college in Browning, Montana that caused the NPS to make it a pipeline to a much coveted permanent ranger job?

IQ test are racist.


IQ test are racist.


That argument has been made from time to time, although it would be interesting to see an analysis of that from an unbiased study.

One would also suspect that there are many intelligent individuals from various ethnic groups who would reasonably take offense at the suggestion that they couldn't score just as well on "IQ" type tests as anyone else.

The lack of upward mobility for talented, hardworking staff is one of the biggest causes of the poor morale in the NPS. It isn't that there are no permanent jobs, it is that they tend to be reserved for special groups, like the students discussed here, or for people with political connections somewhere. It isn't all the time, it might not even be most of the time, but far too often good employees are passed over for much lower quality people. It seems to be done in the service of some goal like returning a favor, punishing honesty or percieved disloyalty, or promoting diversity, that doesn't relate in any way to the job in question being performed well. Because of veteran's preference, a temporary "seasonal" employee has almost no chance of getting a permanent job unless a hiring official goes to bat for them in some way. Unfortunately the only legitimate reason to do that, proven performance in the same or a very similar job, is not very important to a lot of managers. The best proposal to fix this that I know of is the attempt by the NFFE Forest Service Council to get a bill through Congress which would give competetive status to temporary employees after a few seasons, and in situations where a job that a temporary employee has been doing well for years is converted to a permanent job, agencies would be directed to fill it with that temporary employee. There is more information here:

http://www.nffe-fsc.org/committees/legislative/temp-hire.php

That bill would solve a lot of the problems. Just not the cronyism and ladder climbing. One of these days it will all get straightened out I hope. It really takes a toll.

I am afraid that there is no legislative "fix" for this issue. As long as two people compete for a job, the one who doesn't get it will harhor ideas of cronyism and political favoritism. I applied for several jobs in my career that I didn't get. Whenever I called the selecting official to ask wny, he or she had a good answer. We aren't owed jobs or promotions; we have to earn them, And we will have to compete with those commng into the Service who have systematically been excluded from NPS jobs previoiusly. We used to say the same thing about women. I can remember when we got our first African American seasonals in Yellowstone--it was 1960 I believe. That's a long time from 1916.

This is a tough issue.

Rick

Rick, thank you for this post. I must agree, as one person said, the efforts to make the NPS more inclusive are very important, they should be supported. I do remember the anguish/handrining of allowing women to participate fully in the NPS organization.You and i both can remember some of the terrible battles involved. In my own case, my spouse was actually better qualified for a ranger position, in some respects, than I, but women were not considered. However, I am still hung up on the part time/Intern/seasonal employment issue. This is not just a problem for the NPS, but for other governmental agencies and private sector operations. I was in a very nice supermarket the other day talking to one of the "Head Clerks", a personable and intelligent person. She informed me that every position in the store is part time except for management. All starting jobs are minimum wage, little or no benefits. Hours cannot exceed 40 a week, off season they are lucky to get 20 hours. It is the nature of areas that have off seasons, gateway communities to NPS areas a classic example, but I do think perpetual seasonal has an issue, If the job requires a full time employee, that should be the route we take. A complicated issue at best.

Mr. Smith, I know the go to move of NPS leadership is to attack the critic and claim they are just disgruntled kooks etc. but this is not about two people competing for jobs and one not getting it. This is about the NPS excluding certain people from even competing because of factors that have nothing to do with their job performance.

The bottom line is that our beloved NPS in the last several years has, at every turn, attempted to rig a system in order to favor people of certain races and ethnicities, at the expense of job seekers from other races and ethnicities

They can't openly state in a vacancy announcement that only those of certain race can apply. So what they have done is to get very creative and manipulative with the regulations they do have in an effort to rig the system to produce more of the kind of candidates they would prefer. And those qualities they prefer have absolutly nothing with a candidates ability to do the job.

As long as the sensitive issue of "diversity" in employment is being discussed, I believe one segment of our society that is notably missing from the ranks of park rangers are Americans of Asian and Pacific Islands descent. Often, I read where the absence of certain ethnic groups among those who frequent parks is due to economic and cultural barriers. Yet, as an identifiable ethnic group, Asian Americans are certainly present among those who frequent our parks. Yet, I can only think of a few who wear, or wore, the green and grey.

One area in which substantial advances have been made since the 1970's has been the marked increase in the number and percentage of women in the NPS ranger, resources management, interpretive, and administrative workforce, which includes many park superintendents, two past NPS Directors, and several Regional Directors.

As a past seasonal NPS park ranger-naturalist myself, I certainly hope that volunteer and seasonal experience with the NPS would be given a higher priority when personnel decisions are made about new hires for permanent career positions. If such experience is not considered relevant, then I most certainly can understand the frustration expressed by Perpetual Seasonal.

The real question is: Is there any value in having the "face" of the NPS look like the face of America? As we become a more diverse nation, our voting population will become more diverse also. Will they support an agency that does not look like them? I don't know the answer to that question, but it is on my mind often.

Rick

Very good question Rick. I'd like to also ask, to what extent should the face of the NPS take priority over education, skills, experience, and passion for the resource in NPS hiring? I would imagine that the public's support for the NPS will depend more on the quality of the services provided than any other factor.

PJ's article above addresses that somewhat elusive goal of obtaining a permanent career position with the NPS. As you are well aware, the "face" of the NPS is for all practical purposes presented by fee collectors at entrance stations, law enforcement rangers out on patrol or responding to incidents, and interpreters and information specialists, most of whom are seasonal, furloughable, or, with the exception of the patrol rangers, volunteers. Few employees in permanent career positions with the NPS are involved with daily visitor contact as part of their duty assignments. The public per se seldom encounters a permanent employee, let alone a Chief Ranger, a Chief of Interpretation, or a park superintendent. In fact, other than the fee collectors, in many locations the park employees most encountered by park visitors are those who work for the park concessioner. These positions are also seasonal.

I said I don't know the answer to that question I do know that having a diverse seasonal staff, including fee collectors, and a different looking permanent staff is not going to work well. Can you imagine the tensions that would exist? They would far exceed those that existed when a large number of seasonals were women yet the permanents were male.

I vote for diversity. Many of the seasonals and permanents we hired in Everglades knew little about the ecosystem there. In fact, when I drove to the VC my first day there, I could not name one living thing I saw except for the tomato plants that grew near the park. It was a steep learning curve, but I managed, but for the first couple days, you can bet that I referred a number of questions to Everglade's vets. Others can do the same.

Rick

The above comment is indicative of the low regard the NPS leadership has for providing high quality interpretation and visitor services. They put a greater value on an attempt at social engineering than they do at fulfilling their number one mission --providing the tax payer the best service possible. Over my career in interpretation there have been many occasions where my experience, and resource knowledge, has not only helped the visitor have a greater appreciation for the park, and greater enjoyment during their stay, it has also led me to take actions that have kept people safe. I can think of five occasions where due to my experience and vigilance I passed along information to protection rangers that has led to arrests for criminal activity in parks, and instances where I intervened in situations to avert resource damage and serious injuries to the public. I have the letters of commendation to prove it. However I was cut out of my last seasonal job so that it can go to a Pathways student working at their first NPS site. But hey jumping on the latest political bandwagon is far more important to NPS leaders.

Rick-

Regarding your 9:03 comment about there being no legislative fix. I have to respectfuly disagree. One specific problem, the lack of competetive status for long term temporary employees, is absolutely a legislative problem with a legislative fix. The idea behind veteran's preference was that it was mostly for entry level positions, once they got their foot in the door they would compete on merit for promotions. That is where status comes in. When they wrote the law they did not give status to temporary employees because they thought they were truly temporary. I don't think anyone anticipated that the land management agencies would use temps the way they do: year after year, for ongoing work, often in jobs that are a few steps above entry level. Parks often leave permanent positions vacant for a few years to save money. Those jobs are not going undone, they are being done by temporary employees. I have seen temporaries who are doing their supervisor's vacant job volunteer hundreds of hours in a year because they can only be paid for 1039. I have seen them hire, train, and supervise as many as a dozen employees, with little or no help from absentee managers, sometimes for years at a time. Reading resumes and interviewing, all on their own time, mid winter. You want to talk about earning a job? In the end, when after a few years the job is filled permanently, they can't even have their application considered. Every single permanent federal employee in the country who is interested, and every single military veteran, can have their application looked at, but not the person who has actually been doing the job, without being paid for it, for years. Even the OPM has said it is a problem, but that they can't fix it without legislative action. Status for temporary employees after a few years would solve it. I don't know how anyone could argue against it. Most people understand that you have to start out in jobs without benefits. They understand that if the NPS were to follow the spirit of the rules about which jobs should be permanent, it would be very expensive and there would have to be cuts to public services or cuts in the regional offices. People don't mind working jobs that don't pay well or don't have benefits, as long as there is some way to eventually move up, and a link between job performance and advancement and security. Currently there really isn't, and it is hell on morale, and on park operations and public service.

Regarding diversity. Diversity is great. Why don't they go to these colleges they have identified and tell students about the NPS, give them an overview of what we do and what kind of jobs are available, show them how to use USAjobs, and encourage them to apply to whatever vacancies appeal to them? Just handing people who haven't earned it a permanent job because of their race is insane. It will lead to all kinds of tension, bitterness, and the assumption that every person of color hasn't earned their job.

Has the NPS done a study to support their selections? Why not do a FOIA request to explore the NPS hiring policies?

I had no idea that the competition for NPS jobs was that fierce. My assumption is that the NPS is probably the only employer to provide good paying jobs with benefits and pensions in the rural areas where the parks are. If people are really falling over each other to join the NPS, the agency should lower its salaries as there is clearly an imbalance between supply and demand.

Perpetual Seasonal, I do believe that you make some valid points about the perceived abuse of seasonal/ part time and VIP appointments. On the issue of diversity in the work force, I must disagree. I think the efforts on the part of congress, going back to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, was to enable minority groups the opportunity to have access to all employment opportunities. I remember well the contentious work place discussions surrounding the inclusion of women, not to mention other minority populations. I do not think this is social engineering, nor do I think the NPS administration is insensitive to the need to have the agency represent all of America, still recognizing that long term seasonal and others are frustrated by it. I also still work in a public contact and education function with the NPS (emergency basis only), it helps us all to have all segments of our diversified population represented in our efforts, at least that is my experience.

rmackie, it is interesting that you mention the Civil Rights act of 1964 because the NPS leadership seems to have taken a cue from those who crafted the laws of the South from that era in that they are rigging a system designed to guarantee a certain result racially. They are not trying to guarantee equal opportunity (which I am all for) they are trying to guarantee a certain result. When you do something like place one of the three pro ranger schools on a remote Indian reservation; enact a requirement all applicants must be from the local area, and then only allow a few days after the positions are announced before all those requirements be met, it is tantamount to declaring that this is a quota of X number of jobs for people of this particular race.

Now I have nothing against people of that tribe. I am sure they would probably make better Park Rangers than the average American. But I do know it is illegal for the federal government to start handing out jobs on the basis of race. As Chief Justice Roberts said: "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."

Perp seasonal--I am glad that my push to make the "face" of the NPS look like that of America represents, for you, the low regard senion managers have for high class visitor services. Are whites the only ones who can provide that? Are seasonals with 4 or 5 years of experience the only ones who can do that? Are no minorities capable of doing what you say you did? That is not my experience as some of the best employees I have had were first year seasonals who were excited about their jobs and didn't spend endless hours bitching about their working conditions.

I have a great deal of respect for your seasonal service. It sounds long and complete. Unfortunately, you are competing for positions at the same time the Federal government is trying to provide jobs for veterans and those who have not had an equal chance for employment. But keep at it. It took me 11 years as a seasonal.

Rick

Here's an interesting idea from a former senior manager:

I think it is high time to re-consider the whole "seasonal hiring" program. As some have indicated, it's too easy to ignore or exploit them, and current law does not really allow them to be perceived as an easily accessed recruitment pool, even when there are vacancies. Instead, with a few exceptions (such as folks with prior law enforcement experience and teachers who serve as senior interpreters) I would scrap the whole seasonal program and replace it with "interns" (e.g. such as SCA Resource Assistants) signed up under the Public Land Corps Act authority. In most cases they can be, and often already are, the same people NPS has hired historically - college students or recent graduates with degrees in relevant fields, or veterans of conservation corps work crews with good hand skills. But, unlike seasonals, PLCA interns can access non-competivie hiring authority into federal service, and come in at about half the price of a seasonal, so the Service can either save money or hire twice as many.

Rick

Rick, your last comment was a total mischaracterization of what I wrote. I never said only white people can do something so stop being ridiculous. But putting that aside how would you have liked it if after those 11 seasons you like to remind us of that you were passed over for a permanent job in favor of someone who'd just gotten out of school, and had never worked in a park before other than those few weeks in the summer that the "Pro" Rangers do? I know that if I had my car swept into a river by a mudslide I'd rather have the guy with 11 seasons behind him coming for me than the girl who had to have her hand held all through the process of getting a commission and who never really had it in their heart to be a ranger in the first place but got talked into it at their community college.

And if you've got people complaining about working conditions after being there long enough to really know what it is like, why not work to rectify those conditions rather than cut the experienced person loose to bring in the naive person who isn't entirely hip to the situation?

Ok so I just p**s everyone off.

For Rick, perpetual never said only white males could do the job. What he said is (in my words) discrimination is discrimination and it shouldn't be done against anyone, not blacks, not women, not Indians NOR white males. Equal opportunity, not equal outcome.

For perpetual, if you (or anyone else) are willing to work under the provisions of a temporary contract and the NPS can get the work done using a temp rather than a much more costly full time employee then I say great. As Zebulon points out, if there are so many people seeking NPS jobs, the deal can't be that bad. However, I am in full agreement with you that if a permanent position is being filled then prior experience and presumably positive performance should bear far more weight than race, sex or national origin. In fact the latter should bear no weight at all.

ecbuck, I agree with what you write except for one thing. Whether using temporary employees to do what is permanent work is a good or bad right or wrong doesn’t matter. It is illegal and following the law is not optional. The NPS should be better than latching onto a legal interpretation just because it gives them results they happen to prefer. The NPS should have more honor than to try to find intricate little ways to evade the law. We should be better than that and comply with the sprit as well as the letter of the law.

"Agencies are prohibited from using temporary employees to avoid the costs of employee benifits or ceilings on permanent employment levels." -P. 324 Federal Employees Almanac.

Why does it take the FOP to speak out on this? Where is the ANPR? Where is the Coalition of NPS retires on this issue? Oh that’s right they are thoroughly co-opted by the powers that be and care little or nothing for those outside Regional offices and Park HQs.

Howdy Y'all, Retired NPS veteran of 37 years, military veteran, and a member of the multicultural tapestry of the American folk, JT here. Thanks folks for allowing me to witness a great discussion. These are the kind of discussions our beloved NPS, and our beloved USA should have, should have occurred decades ago on a broarder scale. Unfortunately folks do not have the courage to spaek their TRUE mine. I appreciate PS (Perpetual Seasonal-voice for all seasonals-NOT, and for some selecting officials) for sharing her/his thoughts (probably a white male). Well, PS and others, I sense that some of you would desire we go back to the good ol' days of hiring, whether it is FSEE, Coop. Ed., clerk typist, seasonal, and such. There are others who favor or seem interested in seasonal (still available), STEP and SCEP (no longer available), Pro Ranger, Pathways (developed to better consider hiring vets) and such. Stay tuned for the DOI Corps Program. Take all of these hiring authorities, if effectively used, could work to recruit, hire, and retain some top tier employees from our American Multicultural Tapestry to fill positions in all career fields. If any of us really care about our beloved NPS, we will agree that the NPS must become relevant to many more potential users and supporters. We all see what is going on currently that demonstrate how impairing and resource degrading businesses supercede resource protection mandates. Folks with money are buying our legislators and presidents. When we raise a nation of citizens who do not give a "crap" about protecting "Mother Earth" or people. We get what is happening now: environmental injustice, climate change, mining and drilling near NPS sites, just to name some. I support Jarvis and others who believe the NPS must do a better job of hiring folks of color. Some say we must hire the best qualified (certs given to selecting officials provide this). How many of us have been hired, and did not hit the ground running? Maybe if the NPS will improve and enhance the Employee Development Program, we may discover the staffs will be better equipped to perform. Also, take in consideration those of you who have witnessed poor performers. Could the experience exodus (transfers to other agencies, and retirements) contribute to some of the performance issues? Do you think poor training or lack of training cause some of the performance issues? Do we have babies raising babies? PS is speaking the same rhetoric and smoke screen I have heard for decades, "...no one has been excluded from employment because of minority status in a couple of generations. In fact, for the few minorities who wanted a career in the NPS, I think is probable that its been an aid to their careers. It is just a matter of cultural differences that tend to take them down a different path." PSeasonal, I am unsure of where or how you collected your information and you consider as fact. I must say your research is incomplete and flawed. There may be some folk of color (some white folks) who may fit your "cultural differences" comment but the cause of this leads this discussion to a discussion about the larger more complex topic, "Injustice." We'll save most of that for another time for when we seek solutions, if anyone is interested. Believe me, I have had this chat with Jon and other directors. These discussions continue today. I have witnessed, and I know some of you have witnessed racist selecting officials sabatage the hiring process by selecting individuals with obvious flaws, and then state, I told you those people would not perform well, while allowing folks that look like them to screw up and wave it off as no big deal. I have also witnessed decent selecting officials attempt to overlook veterans to reach a friend or acquaintances. I believe the NPS can improve the diversity of culture issues and improve all employees performances by developing a "succession program" that include clear performance competencies, OJT assignments, mentors, and such (...there exist such a plan sitting on shelves collecting dust). Fortune 500 companies have such programs. Even the military has schools to develop staffs. The NPS spends less that 2% of total funds on employee development while 500 companies and the military spend over 5%.

Check the DOI and NPS demographics' numbers. It has not changed much for decades and even when the numbers increase in some categories, the white male and female still reign supreme (over their % of the US population). This demonstrates we still have a long way to go to make our beloved NPS more relevant. Sooo, when white males say they can not promote to higher positions of responsibility and pay because the NPS is hiring minorities. BULL! White males have been competing with other white males and females. I have said to those who share the "speak," maybe check yourself and search your role for why you did not get the promotion?


It is illegal and following the law is not optional.


Agreed. The law should be changed.

JT - I wish I could follow your ramble. Could you clarify. Do you believe minority status should trump experience or competency in hiring?

A simple yes or no will suffice.

ebuck, I am sure there are many in the NPS leadership who would quietly support the change in law you propose right up until the moment that folks with GS numbers in double digits had their benefits and job security threatened in the name of cost savings. Then you would see them sequel as they did when Mike Snyder was director of the IMR and they called Core Ops a "reign of terror"


Then you would see them sequel as they did when Mike Snyder was director of the IMR and they called Core Ops a "reign of terror"


No doubt. Probably all the more reason it should happen.

Thank you JT, I followed your statement, understand and agree with it.

Mr ecbuck, I know the NPS can find folks of color who have experience. I have gone on recruitment trips to universities and colleges, found very qualified candidates, requested them to apply, and hired them. To improve our workforce, we should hire the candidate of color if experience levels are the same.

I have had some of my division chiefs attempt to hire a white male candidate when the person of color was more qualified. We discussed, and the person of color was hired instead of the white candidate.

I know some of you guys are uncomfortable working with folks of color. Ok, I understand the concern if you believe you may say something that may offend. How do you think a person of color feels when she or he is the only person of their culture working in a park with the typical staff make-up.

This issue is not easy for anyone, however, I believe we must get our demographics in line with our Country's demographics. We can agree to disagree. I am OK with that. It still is refreshing to have the discussion and learn from each other.

Do you believe we must resolve the hiring inequities? Do you believe we must create a welcoming environment for all?

Rick-

"some of the best employees I have had were first year seasonals who were excited about their jobs and didn't spend endless hours bitching about their working conditions."

If all you want is for people to smile and be excited about their jobs, I'm sure you are right.

When things actually need to get done though, it is the longer term seasonals who do them, even if you don't see it from the superintendent's office.

How many permanent employees do you think run chainsaw anymore? Rig and hook helicopter sling loads? Manage helicopters? Blast? Go out on the fireline? Very few, and those who do are aging and unlikely to be replaced by new permanent employees. Would you send out a first year seasonal to do any of those things? Would you invest the years and thousands of dollars it takes to train people to do these necessary tasks with the assumption that employees will move on once they are trained? There is now a huge body of knowledge which is mostly in the brains of term and temporary employees, and could easily be lost when those people leave for less tenuous employment. Once it is gone, it will take many years to rebuild.

I once had an NPS manager tell me: "I think the ideal is for people to do a job for 2-3 years and then leave, and longer than that and they get bitter." When I suggested that if everyone who worked for him longer than 3 years got bitter, the problem might lie with him rather than everyone else, he just gave me a vacant look.

There are some serious problems with NPS hiring practices, at great cost to park operations and taxpayer value. If you really want a more effective agency, better to admit the problems and try to fix them, rather than reflexively defend the NPS, come what may.


Do you believe we must resolve the hiring inequities? Do you believe we must create a welcoming environment for all?


Yes and yes. We should stop hiring based on race, sex, origin, orientation et al and focus exclusively on qualifications. To try to "fix" discrimination by discriminating is absurd as is your accusation of " some of you guys are uncomfortable working with folks of color."

A lot of wisdom in your post, willj.

As I have experienced much of what JT Reynolds has posted, not only in the hiring of racially diverse candidates (as well as women), I must agree. In a perfect world this issue might not be so contentious, however this is not the case, at least from my own perspective. There is an excellent book, Doris Kerns Goodwin, titled "THe Bully Pulpit" which tells the story of Teddy Roosevelt, President Taft, many of the very progressive people they associated themselves with and how (and why) they pushed many of the then Republican Party progressive reforms of the early 1900s. Very much worth the read for those interested in why (among many other issues) some of the "turn the clock back" political discourse of today is so disconcerting to many citizens.

Rick-

You posted an idea from a former senior manager. Regarding temporary seasonal employees he said:

"current law does not really allow them to be perceived as an easily accessed recruitment pool, even when there are vacancies."

Exactly. That is the problem. How can an organization like the NPS function at the highest level possible when the majority of their entry level and field staff are blocked from most avenues of promotion, yet college students with no relevant experience can be non competitively hired? How can this not be considered one of the major problems facing the agency?

The solution the manager proposed is frankly pretty out to lunch. He would throw away a whole generation of field workers, thousands of people with tens of thousands of years of experience in the parks, and replace them with SCAs. Seriously? A bunch of college kids working for cheap, replaced with new ones each year, with a chosen few handed permanent jobs non competitively? It would be a catastrophe for everyone involved. Volunteers would die on the job. Visitors would die due to failed emergency response. Hard won knowledge and skill that has been passed down for a couple generations would be lost. I realize that it is not your proposal, and you may not agree with it, but you took it seriously enough to post it.

How can you take this proposal seriously, when it is just a bizarre idea to circumvent a problem with the law, yet so cavalierly dismiss a well reasoned effort to fix the problem in question: “I am afraid that there is no legislative "fix" for this issue”?

I ask you to read the text of the bill, here:

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-113hr533ih/pdf/BILLS-113hr533ih.pdf

as well as an informational brief here:

www.nffe-fsc.org/documents3/Temp_Reform_Brief_140128.docx

Tell me what about this proposal is a bad idea. What about it doesn't fix the problem that your colleague was talking about when he said that “current law does not really allow (seasonals) to be perceived as an easily accessed recruitment pool, even when there are vacancies.”? I'd really like to know if there is a downside that I am missing, because I just don't see one. I'd like to know why organizations such as CNPSR and ANPR aren't pushing this as hard or harder than the NFFE. Management should want this just as much as the workers.

Hi - Can anyone touch on nepotism in the parks?

I remember talking to one of the rangers from Pea Ridge Battlefield a few years ago. He told me that unless you were a "one eyed one legged lesbian of color" you would not get a job with NPS. Lo and behold, however, the daughter of the Chief Ranger at GW Carver National Monument who is white and not a veteran now has a position at Pea Ridge. I know this because she was bragging about it to me. I am not affiliated with NPS and much of what I do know about it comes from this insightful site, so I would like to hear those with NPS experience address any issues of nepotism that may exist. Thank you!

Gus, nepotism is rampant. I recall looking at a list of personnel at one park and probably more than half of the last names of people at the headquarters repeated. And that didn't even include the several instances of women who didn't take their husband's name. I've seen positions created for spouses and even seen organizational structures changed to get around the rule that prohibits supervising a family member. As reported in other NPT articles a seasonal ranger at Mesa Verde reported this kind of corruption and was subjected to reprisals by the NPS leadership. Here is a link to his report: http://www.schundler.net/CuratorPosition2-2-2010toOIG.pdf

This is an additional reason for the lack of minorities in the NPS -so many of the jobs go to folks who are family.

To a certain extent this is understandable given that parks are often in remote communities and people meet and marry each other. If you are in some remote place and you needed a clerk at HQ for example, it probably made sense in the old days to give the job to the spouse of a ranger for reasons such as not wanting to further stretch limited housing etc.

One thing that makes it difficult for a male to get anywhere in interpretation is that division has often been used as a place to put the wives and girlfriends of law enforcement rangers and maintenance personnel. No doubt interpretation is used to make up for the lack of women in other park divisions. I would guess that maybe 70% of interp chiefs in parks are women and at least 65% of permanent employees in interpretation are women --not quite representative of the face of America Maybe we need more "out reach" for men in interpretation. :)

The bottom line is there are enough loopholes in the "merit" system for crafty supervisors, and crafty HR specialists, to get virtually whoever they want into a job.

I'd also add Gus that if that Pea Ridge Ranger was in uniform, and on the clock, when he told you that it was very unprofessional, and dumb, for him to do so. I have never been a believer in pushing personal opinions and political views on visitors as too many of my progressive colleagues do.

"As too many of my progressive colleagues do?" And by the way, you are absolutely right about the ranger at Pea Rige. Those kind of off hand comments have no place in an exchange between an employee and a visitor. Thanks for pointng that out.

Rick

Howdy All, I'm sure we all can share examples of how selecting officials have used past and current hiring authorities to select inidividuals they desire. This demonstrates these folks did their research and determined how to use the authorities to their advantage. Those of you who are still working for the NPS, do your research and use the system to your advantage. It is obvious to me that those of us who are sharing our thoughts will not agree totally, and this is OK. I know what I did as a superintendent to ensure I had staff that functioned to carry out our mission. I did not violate any laws while hiring entry level staff (we created a welcoming environment, provided effective training, and help these employees grow), and we hired upper level staff as well. We hired white males, white females, native peoples, pacific islanders, latinos, etc.. We did not hire any asian folks at Death Valley, however, we were successful at Manzanar. Some of the current hiring authorities, Pathways as an example, will give some of our returning veterans a opportunity to work for the NPS. I totally support this program, and believe the NPS will get some quality folks, and many will not hit the ground running. However, with some time, these vets will develop into some good employees. All I hope those of you who are still working for the NPS and are selecting officials, please do not just have staff members that look like you. You will discover your organizations will be more effective, in many ways.

I'm signing off for now and hope those of you who believe the NPS is not serving you well will share your recommendation for improving the hiring of staff with your supervisors, or with someone who has the authority to make a different. Good luck boys and girls, stay safe and keep on protecting the resources.

Simply an excellent post by JT Reynolds. I encourage those seasonal personnel to share their concerns with other employees. I think you will be most effective if you stay on the issues, and away from broad generalizations about the integrity and competence of many of your supervisors and managers, not that they are not deserved at times. There are organizations that may assist you in doing that, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility is a good place to start. I think it also important to remember that much micro-managing of agency policies begins in the US Congress. Ceilings on the federal work force etc. An interesting book in this regard is "Duty" by Robert Gates. There was also a very informative opinion piece in the New York Times yesterday. A Very interesting discussion Traveler and for those seasonal personnel, the issue is talked about on other websites including the Coalition of NPS Retired members.

Rmackie, in my experience the chain of command is fairly useless in addressing this issue. You just end up being labeled a bitter troublemaker. See Rick's "...endless hours bitching about their working conditions" above. We do try to educate our coworkers, management, the public, and whoever else comes along, but there is only so much you can do when you can be dismissed at the wave of a bureaucrat's hand. As a seasonal you are seen, rightly or not, as not truly informed and just trying to better your own lot. Management, both retired and active, need to step up and push this issue. They will be seen as having credibility on the big picture, and not having a personal stake in it. They have personal connections at the policy level. They have ironclad job security or a pension, they no longer have to worry about making a living and can say what needs to be said. If every level of the organization is saying something needs to happen, it will get taken much more seriously than if it is just a few squeaks coming from the bottom now and then.

I realize that it is easy to think that if the system worked for you, and you are top notch, then the system itself must be top notch, and the people who it doesn't work for just aren't up to snuff. Obviously that is true in some cases, but in recent years I have to say that the average quality of the people who I have seen let go or otherwise treated poorly has been much higher than that of those who management has gone out of their way to help and promote.

I think you all need to remember that it is not the same system now as when you were coming up. The 1039 hour limit only came about in 1994. Before that a seasonal could work year round if they were needed, and many did work far more than 6 months a year. You could raise a family on 9 months a year. It used to be that if you eventually did get permanent, your seasonal years could count toward the 30 you need for retirement. That is no longer the case. Health insurance is a much bigger deal now, as the cost of medical care has risen far faster than wages. There are just fewer permanent jobs, at least in the front line roles. I, and most of the people I came up with who are still in the business, are doing jobs which when we started, were being done by your generation as permanent employees. As the baby boomers retired, we moved into the jobs, but as seasonals, terms at best. I think that when you were starting out, the higher levels of the NPS were more focused on park operations, and saw it as their job to keep good workers around. I just don't see that now, at least not in the parks I know personally. The bosses don't seem to care about anything real anymore. This all mirrors what is going on in the labor market as a whole, but it is neither cost effective nor good for the agency in any way. I have seen far too many good people leave recently, and take their difficult to replace skills with them.

The NPS was good to you, and if you care about the future of the agency, you should use the credibility you have as retirees to push Congress and the NPS to do whatever they have to do to retain the people who have been keeping it running over the last decade or two. When people advocate replacing us with Public Land Corps Act interns, they need to be roundly denounced, no mater how “senior” they are. When retired managers strut around saying, in effect, "I got mine, screw you", they need to be called on it. People need to have it beat into their heads that long term seasonals are the backbone of the organization. We are not interchangeable. We need to have competitive status, at the very least. The parks, and the staff who run them, need to be looked at again as the core of the agency, rather than just as an advertisement for a bigger budget for the NPS.

Superintendent Reynolds, I would agree in cases where candidates have equal qualification the tie to go to the minority candidate but how do you tell from someone's job application their race or ethnicity? That kind of information isn't supposed to be on applications. And if it was someone you already knew therefore giving you knowledge of those personal, supposedly irrelevant, factors could it be you were getting close to the line of prohibited personnel practice #2?

http://www.osc.gov/pppwhatare.htm

As a former "year-round" seasonal park ranger-naturalist, with supervisory responsibilities (1969-71) in Yosemite Valley, I support Perpetual Seasonal and willj for commenting here on the importance and plight of seasonal employees.

Similar issues extend, of course, to the use of VIP's performing assigned duties that were once covered by paid employees.

With respect to the relationship between managers and front line workers, in my era, which is a time period just prior to when Rick and JT began their tenure in Yosemite, I felt the rapport between park management and the professional team of park ranger-naturalists and protection rangers was outstanding. Of course, at that time, our team of seasonal and permanent staff was nearly entirely composed of white males, with a few females. Julia Parker, renowned for her work in reviving knowledge of Native American arts and crafts, was employed with the Yosemite Natural History Association. I believe her husband worked in maintenance.

I had heard over the years that one reason that the NPS professional naturalist series was eventually abolished was to make it easier for the interpretive division to increase diversity and hire outside the academic disciplines of the natural and cultural sciences. As I mentioned in a previous comment, great strides were made during the 1970's and 80's to hire females, despite the large number of Vietnam veterans that had entered the Civil Service employment pool. Efforts were made to increase diversity at all levels.

I am dismayed to read comments about the perceived decline in NPS management concern for the quality of performance of duty. I hope this perception is not a systematic issue. Management concern for the quality of performance of front line staff was very evident in my era. I recall the park superintendent attending my campfire programs, and the assistant superintendant helping out at the visitor center information desk.

Some years ago I was reading the autobiography of Dr. Alvin Weinberg, one of the early legendary directors of the prestigious Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, TN. In this book, Dr. Weinberg reminisced about his performance as an administrator and manager of this highly accomplished research institution. He said, "Basically, upper management at ORNL had two main objectives, (a) maintain standards and (b) demonstrate that we cared about the content and quality of their research." I believe these same two simple principles should apply to NPS management as well.

Therefore, when it comes to recruiting and hiring new employees, I believe that education, knowledge, experience, skills, and passion for the resource should be of paramount importance. If it's not, then this may probably be a contributing cause to the low ranking career employees are giving the NPS as among the best places to work in the Federal Government.

willj, Owen, others, very interesting posts. I am in agreement that the seasonal employee is getting the short end of the stick. Unfortunately, in my own humble opinion, it goes beyond the NPS, it is among many hotly contested political issues, "trickle down economics", distrust of the government, economic trade policies, outsourcing, record corporate profits and management pay while employee wages stalled, benefits eliminated, well the list of debatable issues is quite lengthly. In all this, the lower tier of employees and wage earners are not doing to well. It actually began in the 1980s, but in any case, I am very supportive of your comments. Again, you may need to go to a citizen activist group like PEER to get some results. Please excuse all my posts on this issue, but willj, perpetual seasonal, I believe many of your issues are valid and well stated.