A View From The Overlook: Peter And Paul

My previous column, “How do you get a permanent job with the NPS,” provoked a great deal of reader comment. (Had your humble correspondent mentioned the words “guns” or “mountain biking,” the rate of comment would have been even higher!)

We are pleased that everyone remained “on subject.” No one went off on a tangent, wondering if Your Correspondent was a Communist, or even possibly a Democrat. (Well, hardly anyone.) The comments were well-reasoned and well-written, showing a great deal of thought, effort and, sadly, anguish.

It seems that there are too many well-qualified candidates chasing too few NPS permanent jobs. A matter of supply and demand. Conversely, if you are a graduate of a medical school, ANY medical school, and can pass the boards, chances are you will be doctoring somewhere. Not true in the case of Public Land Management graduates.

So what can be done to balance NPS permanent jobs and candidates?

One of our commenters, a Social Darwinist named “Zebulon,” made the happy suggestion that NPS salaries be reduced to the point where it is difficult (but not impossible) to find any applicants for NPS jobs and thus a balance would be achieved.

My own suggestion would be expand both the staffing and the number of units of the NPS. (Knowing Congress and the Tea Party, the former rather than the latter suggestion is the one most likely to be adopted!)

So, how does one get a permanent job with the NPS?

Eccentric Millionaires Program

Well, there are several “Minority Preferment Programs.” My hands-down favorite is the “Eccentric Millionaire Program.”

“Millionaires are a minority?’’ you ask, incredulous.

Yes, and a despised and persecuted one, neighbor! Consider the poor Koch brothers; hardly a day passes without some left-wing fanatic demanding that something bad happen to these enterprising orphans! It’s only fair that the NPS established “The Eccentric Millionaire’s Program” to fight prejudice against America’s smallest minority by hiring some of them!

“How long has this program been going on?” you ask, dumbstartled.

Since the very first! Stephen Mather, the borax king, was our first hire!

“But why 'eccentric?'” you inquire.

Well, you have to be a little bit crazy to spend your own time and money on a government agency, but that’s exactly what Mather did. In fact, he got his friend, fellow millionaire, Horace Albright (potash), to join the program.

Understandably, hires under the “Eccentric Millionaires Program” are rather rare, but they do happen.

I recall two cases during my own career. Here’s one of them:

The first was at Bryce Canyon where I encountered the millionaire Chief of Interpretation, Jimmy Barnett. He had made a great deal of money as a self-made manufacturer at an early age. In between deals, he visited a national park and fell in love with “America’s Best Idea” and signed up. (Jimmy would good naturedly remark that his GS-12 salary just about paid the taxes on one of his factories) Jimmy was energetic, innovative and creative, as one would expect of a millionaire. He was also kind, helpful and charming, not always the attributes of a millionaire.

He had one disconcerting habit, however. (Disconcerting at least to the park superintendent). One of most enduring rituals of the NPS is the annual divying up of the pot of money that Congress allocates to each park for operating expenses. This ritual allows each division chief to show the superintendent just how shrewd and Machiavellian he/she could be in moving money around and subtracting money from the program of less articulate division chiefs.

Jimmy refused to play the game. When dolefully told that there was not enough money to fund certain of his interpretive projects, he would cheerfully say, “That’s OK! I’ll fund it out of my own pocket!” And, backed by his Daddy Warbucks fortune, he would write a check for the difference.

Any Other Minority Preferment Programs?

Are there other minority preferment programs? Yep! Nearly every historically persecuted minority can go to the head of the NPS employment line, and, given American history, that is potentially quite a few people. (Now there are those who claim that “Rednecks” have been a persecuted minority since that unfortunate day at Appomattox, but this is more a class issue than racial or ethnic.)

Is reverse discrimination in employment fair? It depends. As George Bernard Shaw once famously observed, “He who robs Peter to pay Paul will get no objection from Paul.”

However, the NPS is now getting vociferous objections from “Peter” (“Peter” being a member of the rapidly dwindling White majority who desires a permanent position with the National Park Service.)

“Peter’s” desire for permanent employment conflicts (at least temporarily) with the NPS desire for “Diversity in The Workplace;” that is, “Faces like America’s” on its Federal Work Force.

In order to get more “Pauls” into the NPS workplace, the Park Service has decided to nurture them in career choices by subsidizing a program called “Pro Ranger” that would provide basic skills training in being a law enforcement ranger with the all-important proviso that there would be a permanent job in the NPS awaiting the “Pauls” who completed the program.

While the NPS did not come right out and say that the program was a minority hire program, one of the participants, Philadelphia’s Temple University (Alma Mater of Bill Cosby) has a large “Inner City” population (Code word for “Black”, neighbors).

A second “Pro Ranger” participant is San Antonio College in the Texas City of that name. San Antonio College has a very large “Hispanic” population (Code word for Mexican).

The third “Pro Ranger” participant is Browning Junior College located on the Blackfoot Indian Reservation in Montana (The various “Peters” can be excused for suspecting that the selection of Browning Junior College was not entirely coincidental).

As yet, the NPS has not tapped the Asian community. (May we suggest either Honolulu Community College or Hawaii Community College in Hilo?)

Is this fair? Well, no.

Life Is Not Fair

However, as JFK once observed, “Life is not fair.”

It is not the fault of the modern-day “Peters” that there was historic discrimination against “Pauls,” resulting in a diversity problem in the National Park Service and that the “Peters” are understandably outraged that they should be made to suffer.

On the other hand, just as the courts have recognized that “Separate but equal” was not really equal, the NPS has come to the conclusion that “Equal Opportunity” is not as equal as it seems. True, “Paul “ is allowed to enter the competition, but “Peter” has a quarter-mile headstart due to cultural advantages; that is, an orientation toward the national parks and/or the Outdoors. “Peter’s” parents took him camping in the summer and skiing in the winter. There may have been riding lessons or “Peter” may have grown up on a ranch, or in various national parks, an experience highly unlikely for a “Paul.” “Peter’s” family may have owned a boat and “Peter” learned useful boating skills, including SCUBA. “Peter” would not be a bit shy about mentioning being a mountain climbing instructor on his resume, nor would his presence on the county SAR team be forgotten.

In short, “Peter” possesses a package of skills that puts “Paul” in the shade, skills acquired at no cost to the NPS. Who should we hire?

Well now, in a country with no history of discrimination, say Iceland for example, the answer would be “Peter.” Alas! We Americans are stuck with the baggage of our history, and the NPS has chosen to “jump start” the careers of some of the less obvious contenders for a permanent NPS position.

Understandably “Peter” cries “foul” and plays the Merit Card. “Peter” points out that he has put in years of hard work gaining Skills & Experience that “Paul” (through no fault of his own) simply does not possess. “Peter” claims to have more “Merit” than “Paul;” that is, bluntly, he is better than “Paul.”

Should “Merit” cast the deciding vote? It depends.

Consider the case of George “Dubya” Bush; an amiable, lovable lad, his merits were well-hidden, somewhere down below the Ordovician layer.

Based on “merit” it would seem that “Dubya” would do best at a good community college. However, “Dubya” wanted to graduate from Yale like the rest of the Bush dynasty, and that is exactly what he did.

Now, as you know, Yale, like the rest of the Ivy League, is famed for its intellectual rigor. Indeed, if you get into an argument with a Yale graduate, you might as well roll over and die, because, sooner or later, the Yalie will drop the fact he/she is a Yale graduate and that is an argument ender. Or so it is believed.

So what happened to Merit? Well, in “Dubya’s case, it was judiciously balanced by Money & Power, those twin solvents of life’s problems.

The rest, as they say, is history. “Dubya” went on to become a very successful governor of Texas and two-term President of the United States. He really DID have Merit, it just wasn’t immediately discernable! (Think of “Dubya” as a pinhead-sized Sequoia seed finally growing into the largest tree in the world!)

Adjusting Merit

The same is true of the “Pro Ranger” candidates. Like “Dubya” most of them really do have Merit, but the Money & Power of the Federal Government must bring it out.

“BUT THAT’S NOT FAIR!” roars “Peter.”

Of course it isn’t, but sometimes you have to “adjust” Merit, if you know what’s good for you.

Consider the case of the University of California at Berkeley. “Berkeley” is considered to be one of the more prestigious schools in America. A Berkeley degree is highly sought after by Asian students and their ambitious parents. The problem is that Asians generally make better students than white Americans; not necessarily smarter, but more disciplined and driven (think family). Therefore, if you are going to admit students to Berkeley based on “Merit” (grade point,) your student body is soon going to look like the cast of a Kung Fu movie or a Bollywood epic.

Since largely white taxpayers support Berkeley, they are going to wonder out loud why young Christopher or Jennifer has no chance of getting in. Thus, the Berkeley Admissions Office is faced with exactly the opposite of the NPS problem: How to keep minorities.

So, the Berkeley Administration “adjusted” the Merit selection. Grades and test scores are important, but so is being “well rounded." One should play a sport, particularly a team sport. Now the average Asian student is not good at games. Not good at games? Ah, you may substitute community service; have you rescued any dolphins or tigers lately? Haven’t? Pity! (Asians tend to be less interested in saving the whales and more interested in family.)

So you can see that even a prestigious university is not above gaming the system when it comes to “Merit.”

“BUT THE PARK SERVICE IS STILL CHEATING ME OUT OF A JOB!” screams “Peter.”

Oh, all right! Let’s see if we can’t make it a “win–win” situation.

“Peter” would like a permanent job, so would “Paul,”, and the NPS would like “Faces like America.” That is, diversity in the work place.

The U.S. population is currently (roughly) 68.4 percent White, 16.4 percent Mayan-Aztec, 12.6 percent African American, 4.6 percent Asian and 1.1 percent American Indian and Polynesian. (There is no such race as “Hispanic” and the use of Spanish surnames as weapons in the anti-discrimination wars is incorrect. Nobody discriminates against Cameron Diaz or Penelope Cruz, particularly after they put on their bikinis.)

So why not set aside 33 percent of prospective yearly new permanent slots for the accelerated “Pro Ranger Program,” a program that the NPS has spent a lot of time and money on after the stark realization that “Equal Opportunity” is not all that equal.

That leaves around 68 percent of the annual supply of permanent positions to be acquired by people (usually, but not always White) through successful completion of a series of seasonal employment assignments in different parks under the supervision of different managers (to avoid cronyism).

What if the Tea Party types prevail and there are few or no new permanent positions for the year? Not to worry. Both the “Pro Ranger” and the Seasonal Ranger Source (two different programs), could be given a “rain check” for the next year. (Seasonals are used to waiting, but they will be far more comfortable with a rain check.)

Would the programs be subject to gaming? You bet! I recall one person who gleefully told me how he “beat the system." The person was whiter than Sir Winston Churchill (Churchill was one quarter American Indian or a “quarter breed” as we used to say back home in politically incorrect South Dakota). Anyway, the guy in question got in on the “Asian” quota; if one of your parents or grandparents was Asian, then you qualified as an “Asian" and could check that block.

It turns out that the guy’s grandfather, a white man, had been born in Constantinople (Now Istanbul), which, if you look at a map is just across the Bosporus, in (technically) Asia. To avoid such duplicity in the future, the NPS will have to decide on (A) which minority group was actually historically discriminated against, and (B) require DNA testing to prove membership in the desired minority.

The seasonal employment route has its own set of pitfalls; One legendary chief of interpretation remarked that “Seasonals don’t have 20 years of experience; they’ve had the same experience 20 times." (Your correspondent does not necessarily agree with this but it may have some merit.) To avoid this, the seasonal experience will have to be varied and the person mentored if they elect to take the permanent track.

Considerable effort will be needed to make this fair to everyone.

Comments

Appears to be a little foggy on the overlook today.

Forget the social engineering. Give the job to the person that is best qualified. Period! That will best serve the mission of the NPS with the budget they are given.

I wonder why this excellent follow-up article by PJ Ryan has been posted in NPT as a "news" item that will fade from the front pages of National Parks Traveler with the passing of a day or so? Could it be that an open discussion of the four decades-long practice of social engineering to diversify the face of the NPS workforce might be considered too sensitive of a topic for this "A View from the Overlook" to be issued as a featured article?

I second Owen's motion. Move this to the top of the heap.

It's another gem from Thunderbear.

And while I don't agree with all of it, I do believe the Bear has hit squarely upon the nail's head. Hopefully some of his readers will be able to rise above the fog that clouds their understanding and actually do some serious thinking.

ecbuck, spoken like a true "Peter." Not that I totally disagree, but diversity in the parks would have its benefits too. Great writing PJ! this one will probably stir lots of opinions. I will bite my tongue but will enjoy reading both sides.

Terrific post PJ, presents the issue with the great satire and the good humor you lace your opinions pieces with. Much does boil down to who's ox is being gored. The current seasonal personnel need to make their voices heard, ANPR is a good place to start.


an open discussion of the four decades-long practice of social engineering to diversify the face of the NPS workforce


I agree that PJ does a nice job balancing (or gesturing toward) the complex issues involved in using decades of social engineering to rectify centuries of it. Nice comments, Owen et al.


involved in using decades of social engineering to rectify centuries of it.


Sorry, I just never saw the logic in discriminating to cure discrimination. If anything, it seems racist to believe that is necessary.

Nice article, PJ. Speaking as someone who has been a 'Peter' most of his life, and who is very sensitized to 'Paul's' plight, and also as someone who has no doubt benefitted by the privileges of appearing white, male, and straight for most of my life while also having lost jobs to and been managed by incompetents who were promoted due to their minority status... [sorry for that run-on mess of a summation], I have to simply agree that there are problems enough to go around and no easy or 'fair' solutions.

Using humor/satire to examine complex problems helps to keep the emotions down and makes the examination just a slight bit easier to confront. You've always done that well - the NPS's Jonathan Swift, if you will.

Perhaps there is a little of Peter and a little of Paul in all of us regardless of any other factors. Perhaps, too, our status changes from time to time as our educations, experiences, age, health, family and myriad other aspects of our lives change.

Social engineering? I doubt there is a political party or religion or business or labor union or any person anywhere who has not dabbled in at least a little of it -- if they believe it will help them somehow.

Might it not be better to try to look at the BIG PICTURE to see how we might reach out to help all of those around us instead of picking and choosing? Whatever happened to that quaint old Golden Rule? What about seeking to help others as well.


What about seeking to help others as well.


Is that the mission of the NPS or is this:

.to promote and regulate the use of the...national parks...which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations." National Park Service Organic Act, 16 U.S.C.1.[/i]

ec, you missed the point entirely.


ec, you missed the point entirely.


No Lee, I just disagreed with it entirely when it comes to the actions of the NPS. Doing things that help others is a worthy goal but it is not the mission of the NPS.

And doing things that help others doesn't have to conflict with the mission of the NPS. Unless, of course, someone simply doesn't like helping others.

The student body of Temple University is mostly non-Hispanic White(60% of the student body in 2012). Also, not all the students participating in the ProRanger Program at Temple are minorities.

http://www.temple.edu/ir/factbook/documents/2012_Fall_Student_Profile-Final.pdf

http://www.temple.edu/provost/university-college/proranger/prorangers/index.html

I would also hope there would be a discussion of women in the National Park Service. Where do they fit in this equation?

Danny

www.hikertohiker.com

Danny, I'm sure you've noticed that in some parks and in some divisions, women now make up more than 50% of the workforce.

It seems to me that one place where the lack of diversity remains to be an issue is with park volunteers. In a way, Volunteers-in-the-Parks (VIP's) is the answer to Social Darwinist Zebulon's suggestion that supply and demand economics should govern salaries and benefits for park jobs.

Yet, for the most part, VIPs are predominantly white and grey (or no) -haired and, I believe, mostly male. Most VIP's tend to be representative of college educated upper middle-class income groups. Some are former NPS'ers, demographic remnants of those who once wore the green and grey in times past. Exceptions are senior women who we frequently see staffing park information desks, and younger students and a few individuals fresh out of school who volunteer in the hope that any experience in a park will be advantageous when applying for seasonal or permanent employment with the NPS.


doesn't have to conflict with the mission of the NPS


No it doesn't have to conflict, but if someone of inferior qualifications is hired because of some factor other than their qualifications, it dilutes the mission. Employees of lesser qualification will not carry out the mission as effectively has employees with superior qualifications.

That would be a good story to hear, Danny.

The stated fear among some is that without more minorities visiting parks that an increasing minority population will mean less political support for parks in the future --so much less support that resources we hold dear will be degraded and destroyed at some future date. The advocates of consciously using race as a factor in workforce management decisions say that if you have more black people, Latin American people etc. working in the parks that will cause more citizens of those backgrounds to want to visit parks and with this appreciation will come political support and protection. In other words we have increasingly large sections of the population that do not hold the same values when it comes to history and the natural world that our country and dominate culture has for at least the last one hundred years.

For many years there were plenty of voices in this country that warned if you don't enforce immigration laws and secure the border that you risk creating a future where many of the things we have traditionally valued, and supported, as a nation will inevitably come under threat as the character of the nation is changed. A change brought about by incorporating so many who don't share those values and culture. Of course at the time those who stated this truth were called racists, bigots, homophobes and worse.

As this unassimilated future majority comes up on the horizon many of the same folks who supported lax border security, and lax enforcement of immigration laws, are wakening up to the consequences of it. You just can't bring that many people into a nation who don't share the same language, values, and history and not expect many of the programs carried out by the old regime to go away.

So leftists thank you for finally embracing the arguments that your more culturally conservative countrymen have made for the last fifty years allow me on their behalf this one WE TOLD YOU SO!

(on the bright side predictions of the future have a way of swerving off in directions the predictors don't foresee.)

PS, We have always been a nation of immigrants and will always be a nation of immigrants. Everyone in this country (and in the world) has a family story that involves immigration. Each of our families, over time, have assimilated. People have an amazing capacity for that. The National Park Service in many places tells the stories of those migrations and cultural conflicts. I'm pretty confident that in the future there will be more NPS sites that tell the stories of current migrations and social/cultural conflicts. National Park relevance is not about immigration policy/law. It has more to do with a perception of a modern, more urbanized society, which I thing some think tends to look more to personal gain than a bigger picture. The seasonal hiring issue is not about immigration either. You have brought up some valid points in previous comments and posts, but IMHO these comments in this post are way off point and topic. Just my two cents worth.


Each of our families, over time, have assimilated. People have an amazing capacity for that.


Don't want to stray to far off point, but I think PS's point was that the current waive of immigrants are not as motivated to assimulate as in the past. Our previous immigrants came here legally (for the most part) and strived to learn our language and customs. They wanted to be Americans, and not of the hyphenated kind. They didn't demand that documents/signs be printed in multiple languages. They didn't become wards of the State.

When it comes to the parks, we aren't going to draw minorities to the parks by having minority employees. We will draw minorities to the parks by instilling an appreciation of nature and a respect and interest in our history and culture in our homes and schools.

I agree with you here 100% ebuck. The approach to the problem is by the NPS is to treat the symptom instead of curing the disease. If this issue is to be truly resolved it will be by millions of people (people who don't sit around and think about the NPS all day) making billions of tiny decisions that will give us a more cohesive nation. And from that we will get the support our system of parks should have.

The current approach only furthers the Balkinization we need to get away from and it threatens to further degrade the NPS by bringing in people who don't have a passion for the job and it destroys the morale of those who do have a passion for the job. They do the work their passion compels them to do only to find that is being held against them.

I support private groups doing all they can to get minority kids into the outdoors and having wilderness experiences. I am all for quality history education in the schools which will lead to kids valuing our historic sites. But these things are not the job of the NPS. And for the NPS to put scarce resources into these things may well lead to a degradation of the things we want these kids to value. We all know how the federal government fares when it tries to do complex things.

NPS officials concentrate on running your parks and providing excellent services, and facilities, in the parks and stop expending efforts and energy trying to use what little levers of power you have in an attempt to mold society. Society is supposed to mold you not visa versa.

EC, I guess we live in very different worlds, and have very different experiences. Many previous immigrants came here illegally. Thus the term WOP as an example...without papers. But there was a mechanism to become legal...In my experience many current immigrants work multiple jobs and don't demand anything. I could go on, but this is not a piece about immigration or immigrants.

Your last paragraph is interesting...how do you suggest instilling an appreciation of nature and a respect and interest in our history and culture in our homes and schools? I have my ideas, I'm interested in yours.

Ranger - First, I would suggest you check the etymology of the word WOP. It didn't come from "With Out Papers". Second those "With Out Papers" didn't come illegally (i.e sneak over a border), they arrived at places like Ellis Island without documentation-no papers. There, they were registered and entered the country as legal alliens. Yes some people did enter the country illegally, but it was a small minority that did not overwhelm the culture of the country. I am glad you are familiar with immigrants that work hard. I am as well. But, your annecdotal evidence pales to the national statistics.

As to how to instill an appreciation of nature and a respect and interest in our history and culture, it can only begin within the communities themselves. Until these "minority" groups stop playing the role of victims and take responsibility for their own lives it will never happen. As long as we continue to pamper them and provide disinsentives to work or special privledges, they will have no incentive to do so. Yes it won't be easy. But then it wasn't easy for your Italian ancestors. They came here and suffered extreme discrimination and persectution. They assimulated and you succeeded not because they were give handouts or special privledges. They did so because they wanted to become Americans and worked hard to make it happen.

Think about the Vietnamese "boat people" that came here in the 70s and were nearly universaly shunned. They arrived with nothing but the shirt on their backs. That and a strong sense of family and pride. Many have risen to become extremely successful in a generation or less. Few are found on the public dole. Its not the system that is preventing others from doing the same its a victim mindset.

It's a good thing. PP, that you are in favor of all those things except jobs. We want to save all of those for people like you.

Rick

Rick, if I am the "PP" you are referring to, remember what they used to chant when you got on the buses at Yosemite? That is my reply.

And that will continue to be my reply if you want to continue to intentionally miss characterize what I write.

Deal with the ideas don't attack the messenger.

And of course many immigrants in days gone by were brought here involuntarily as slaves. That included Irish, Chinese, and Africans. Today this still happens with both Central/South Americans in debt to coyotes and in the terrible tales of shipping containers from Asian countries filled with barely alive people who will have to work most of their remaining lives to 'earn' their freedom.

It's easy to glamorize the past which most closely supports one's own tribe or worldview; it just isn't always accurate.

I'm not Hopi, Tlingit, or Navaho - I don't think I have any premium on my status as an American over someone just arriving.

Then Rick B., that kind of thinking is a perscription for going the way of the Hopi, Tlingit, and Navaho.

Relax, ec, you are not PP.

Rick

I guess I'll say a couple things about the immigration stuff, then go back and try to write something about the (unrelated) subject at hand: diversity in the NPS, and the sometimes strange and counterproductive methods used to try to increase it.

First, what the hell? You guys know that you have to be a US citizen to work for the feds, right? The various minorities involved in NPS diversification schemes are Americans, not immigrants and certainly not illegal immigrants. There is no unwashed horde massing below the line to come up and do interpretation on the cheap.

Second, again, what the hell? We all benefit enormously from this country's ability to consistently, for more than two centuries, attract the most motivated and resourceful workers from the rest of the world. That includes the people coming up from Mexico and Central America in recent years. Have you ever been to the Cabeza Prieta? Anyone who can walk across that thing in tennis shoes, with a school kid's backpack and a jug of water, deserves to be met at I-8 with a job offer and a six pack.

Third, what is the big deal about assimilation? What does it even mean? I don't know how long my family has been in this country, nobody living knows, 19th century at least. We come from some kind of generic mongrel European stock. My parents were born assimilated into the mainstream culture. Thankfully they were over that by the time I was born. I have no intention of assimilating myself, frankly it sounds boring.

Now back to diversity and the NPS, I hope.


Relax, ec, you are not PP.


Rick, I was confused by your prior post. This one is even more perplexing.

willj, your right, immigration is not the subject here, but thank you for an excellent post. I am first generation American, both parents coming from Canada. They were both Scotch and English. I want to thank you for the links to the legislative proposals. I do think you seasonal personnel have a shot. Speaking of diversity, one of the contributors to this discussion, Mr. JT Reynolds, was a fellow candidate with me in a 6 month police academy. This was almost 40 years ago. I can tell you all that if you were in a tough situation, you could never have a better partner. Keep us posted on the outcomes and any constructive dealings with in the DOI and ANPR.

willj, you are absolutely right. You have to be a citizen to work for the Federal Government, and this article is not about immigration. The article is about the NPS reflecting the face of our American Society, immigrants all. I guess I look at it this way, if you go to a country club and all the members you see there are of the majority race in the country, while the staff (waiters, bus staff, maintenance) are all made up of minorities, what is the message being sent? If you go to a National Park and everyone you see is apparently one race, what is the message being sent. I don't care how engaged or engaging those staff are, the silent message is that others don't belong. My feeling is that until the NPS more closely reflects the face of our American Society, we will be sending that silent message that others don't belong.

I have had the pleasure of supervising two NPS Intake Trainees in my career....neither were minorities. The Intake classes each of them was in had a racial and sexual makeup that was pretty much representative of our American Society. All in the classes had been fairly long term NPS seasonals. I have also been able to associate with four Pro-Rangers. Three were women, one was a minority...all were highly motivated and very enthusiastic about the NPS. Several of them are currently doing very well in new permanent positions. I mention this to counter the claims by some here that those programs are only geared towards minorities. My experiences are that they are not. When I hear people complaining about thses programs I always ask "Did you apply to that program?" The answer is usually no. I then ask, "If you had had the opportunity, would you have taken part in one of these programs?" The answer has always been yes. The complaints appear to me to be based on the fact that that individual had not been in one of the programs.

The problem isn't these programs, it is that there is no "front door" through which to access a permament position in the NPS. There is no across the board process to bring people in. There needs to be one.

By the way EC, I am not of Italian descent....a number of my friends are however. My point was that their family lines all came in illegally, they stowed away on ships....but, as you indicated, there was a straight forward process for them to become legal citizens. We don't have a straight forward, working system in place today. Our current system is broken. Most of my ancestors arrived in America prior to 1750...English, Irish, Welsh, French and Cherokee. No one was considered an illegal immigrant then :-)


We don't have a straight forward, working system in place today.


We have a system. Its not working because there are those (you?) that want to allow people to ignore it.

And when I go to a National Park (or golf course or resturant or anyplace else) the last think that is on my mind is the ethnicity of the staff. I think it has been mentioned here before that there are relatively few Asians in the NPS yet parks like Glacier have strong Asian visitor numbers. Its not the staff that draws the visitors, its the quality of the Park and the mindset of the visitor. If someone has no appreication for nature, no understanding, curiosity or respect for our history they aren't going to go to a park no matter who is working there.

BTW - stowing away on a ship may be illegal - i.e. theft of service, but it is not the equivilent of entering the country illegally. Very few of our early immigrants did so.

EC, So we will agree to disagree about our system working and about the need to reflect the face of America. I do not want anyone to ignore the system, I only ask that we fix the system we have that is not working. People being in the process of getting citizenship for 10 to 15 years. Come on, is that a system that works? I'm also assuming you have never been in a position to feel "locked/left out" or excluded...Not all in this country have been as fortunate as you, or me.

Some people theorize that our country should be a "melting pot" of cultures; that we should eventually all become the same or hold some other cultures ideals as the norm and this is what we should strive for. I was taught this in my early education growing up. I latter took a grad course from Dr. Luna at Colorado State back in the early 90's that totally changed my outlook on this. He called it the "salad bowl." Which basically means it is OK to have diversity in our society. Language, culture, race etc... is something we can all learn from. We need to get to know differences of other cultures in order to better understand their perspective and mind set. I have learned to "accept others for their individual differences." Does not mean I have to agree with their ideals. Assimilation into society should include understanding common language, knowing laws and understanding culture but it should not mean making them as close to white anglo-saxon protestants as they can be. That being said, hiring for the NPS should include best for the job but creating a better "salad bowl" (with more than just lettuce) could create a better community within the organization. This way it does not become a whites only country club.


. People being in the process of getting citizenship for 10 to 15 years. Come on, is that a system that works?


If anyone is taking 10-15 years it is only through their own actions or inactions. The maximum requirment is 5 yrs residency and there are options that can shorten that.

EC, Really, and you know it is their fault how? Doesn't really matter what the requirement for citizenship is. I was talking about how long the process can take after meeting the requirement. We shall continue to disagree.

David, Thank you very much. I love the "salad bowl" concept!


I was talking about how long the process can take after meeting the requirement.


Can you document that it takes 10-15 years to get approved after meeting the requirements? From what I can tell from a web search, it typically takes 6-9 months to process after meeting the requirements.

David,

I can buy your salad analogy as well - as long as you aren't putting in a rotten tomato instead of a fresh carrot merely for the sake of having a tomato in the salad.

ecbuck...well put.

It's interesting to see this discussion thread growing each passing day, yet PJ's "A View from the Overlook" article about Peters vs. Paul has now vanished from the home page of NPT. I surmise that this subject is considered too specialized for the general readership of NPT and perhaps introduces a subject that is beyond the overall scope and purpose of the Traveler.

With regards to PJ's article, and the subsequent discussion thread, let me clearly state that I support diversity in the park workforce. Parks should never be thought of as country clubs for whites, let alone a club for white males only. The same can be said of our public institutions that support the arts, music, sciences, and higher education.

But, I have always believed that NPS hiring priorities should focus on the important attributes of education, experience, skills, and passion for the resource and the visitor's experience.

On the other hand, maybe it is exactly these very criteria that have led to the historic lack of a diverse workforce? This is certainly implied in PJ's article.

After reading the thread of discussions associated with both of PJ's articles, I realize that one might well counter my position with the following comment:

"Just how much specialized education, experience....etc. does it really take to adequately and responsibly perform the duties of fee collection, interpretation, information desk attendant, backcountry patrol, maintenance, etc.?" I guess one could ask the same question of concession employees and park volunteers.

Well, what then should be the minimum standards against which prospective candidates should be evaluated? How much hiring preference should potential candidates be given whose experience, education, skills, etc. markedly exceed these minimum thresholds?

Since there's no argument about hiring preferences for the very large number of military veterans returning from Iraq and Afganistan, why not assure diversity in the face of the NPS and park concessioners by recruting future employees among the numerous potential candidates who are members of this legally defined preferred group?

Sometimes it costs our country a lot to grow better tomatoes but we are better off in the future not creating a caste society.

Old Ranger, my own experience reflects your comments. Even today, in my opportunity to work as a Fire Information and Education Officer, I encounter many of the issues being discussed here. An interesting discussion.

If immigration is an issue, remember that we recently had an NPS Director who was a naturalized American citizen.

Someone above seemed to fear we might be going the way of Hopi, Navajo, and Tlinglit. I don't know much about the Tlinglit, but the Hopi are people we would do well to emulate. The Navajo, thanks to some of the "opportunities" some posters here decry, are finally making great progress.

One of America's greatest strengths may well be its diversity.

Lee...

I mentioned three tribes at random to remark that, not being one of them, we're all immigrants.

The Tlingits, by the way, are here in and around the Chilkoot Trail area of southeast Alaska. Integrated into modern society, including some being NPS employees, they are friends and neighbors.

Sorry, Rick. I misunderstood. Too often in the past I've heard comments about Indians that were not complimentary.

To be clear, and to clarify the record, Park Rangers (law enforcement or interpretation) DO NOT need to have a college education to qualify for entry-level positions. For law enforcement, a Type II commission is required, however. Therefore, what the Pro Ranger program has done, in effect, is to raise the bar by attracting college educated, highly (if not overly) qualified individuals into entry-level positions with the NPS. In essence, it's professionalizing the NPS' workforce. Rather than "diluting" the mission, Pro Ranger strengthens it by adding top caliber individuals into the workforce.

The problem with the article, which the author does not address, is that it assumes that the diversity efforts are at odds with the requirement (by law) that the organization must hire the best qualified talent possible. There's no such conflict. Indeed, programs like Pro Ranger help the organization increase significantly the QUALITY of the applicant pool or it's talent pipeline. Thus, the seemingly qualification issue is misplaced and nonexistent.

So Rtraveler, you are telling us that someone who was self motivated to pursue a ranger career; already got their education; paid for their own training, and has already worked as an LE ranger for a number of years is not as qualified as someone who happened to be a student at one of these three colleges and got talked into joining proranger?

If the prorangers are so good what would be the problem with letting them compete with all applicants for the few permanent jobs that come up instead of guaranteeing them a job upon completing the program?

Why limit those who can participate in proranger to those who happen to live in those areas? Why not announce the vacancies and give enough time to those who would like to enter the program to move to San Antonio or Philadelphia or Browning Montana to enroll? How can drawing from a smaller pool of applicants possibly give you a better candidate?

Perpetual Seasonal, I am not saying that at all, and you can make the argument both ways endlessly. I've seen inept perpetual seasonals who continue to get seasonal jobs simply because they happen to have prior seasonal experience. So, if we want to give hypothetical examples, I have plenty as well.

What I'm saying is that Pro Ranger is a program that attracts top talent to entry-level positions into the Service. The same thing that NASA, NIH, and many other Federal agencies do: develop partnerships with universities to tailor academic programs to what the agency NEEDS. And to your point, there are far more permanent positions than Pro Ranger candidates and alumni combined every year.

So, rather than ranting about why you haven't been hired into a permanent position, I'd recommend you take a look at your skill set, prior experience, education, etc. etc. Maybe there's something there that continues to come up. In other words, don't worry about Pro Ranger, that is, I'm sure, not the source of your calamities "getting in."