Park Leaders Show : Park Ranger | National Park | State Park | Leadership



Park Leaders connects the wisdom of Park Managers, leaders in the park system, and thought leaders of the business world with up and coming park leaders. This is the show for Park Rangers, Park Managers, and leaders who want to have an impact.


  • Staying Relevant in a Changing World

    05/05/2020 Duración: 24min

    Phil Gaines returns on-site at Lake Tahoe to discuss how to stay relevant in an ever-changing world. Speaking from a local perspective, Phil talks about the importance of taking care of watersheds, providing outdoor recreation, and understanding location. For instance, while water supply is abundant in the southeast, in California the mindset is different since limitation is more a cultural norm. As for staying relevant, while technology and networking are important, knowing the needs of your surroundings is also key. Especially in times of crisis and uncertainty, understanding capacity is vital to land and water resource protection. In short, while staying relevant involves adapting and evolving, it’s ultimately incomplete if the mindset isn’t filtered through current issues and settings.

  • Exploring Ranger First

    28/04/2020 Duración: 16min

    Donald Forgione, Director of Florida State Parks, discusses his background and what it means to be “Ranger First”. After starting his career as a Park Ranger with Florida State Parks, Forgione transitioned to Director, a role he admits he didn’t expect to land. During this time, he developed a special tagline, “Ranger First”, to remind himself and others how the responsibilities of a park ranger go beyond title. As Forgione explains, behaviors and values speak louder than words in the park business. Though responsibilities change over time, the humility and pride of being a ranger should never waver.

  • How to Handle a Crisis

    24/03/2020 Duración: 23min

    On this special episode of the Park Leader Show, Dan Cockerell, and former VP of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, and Lee Cockerell, retired Executive Vice President of Walt Disney World,  talk about how to handle a crisis. Here are four steps to keep in mind while dealing with a crisis: Safety First. Before anything else, the safety of employees, customers, and yourself comes before anything else. Deal with the Facts. During a crisis people get emotional. People speculate and gossip. You should deal only with the facts when you communicate with people. Be Empathetic. Everybody is dealing with a crisis in different ways for different reasons. Understand people are worried. Use the situation to get better. You and your organization can learn plenty from a crisis. Use it as a training opportunity. During a crisis, your culture is on show for everyone to see. Your actions should match your words. What you say doesn’t build a culture. Culture is built through actions.

  • Innovating Communication in Your Organization

    17/03/2020 Duración: 30min

    Jim Bryson, Deputy Commissioner of Parks and Conservation of Tennessee State Parks, discusses the benefit of leaning on your team and the importance of innovation in how you handle communication across your organization.   Joining Tennessee State Parks from a corporate background in marketing research, Jim has discovered how central building a culture of trust within your organization is. As a leader, you set the pillars and vision, and you lean on your staff to fill in the how to your why. Being confident in your leadership allows you to pull from the experience of those around you.   Jim also shares his experience in starting the first internal podcast dedicated to communication and recognition within the Tennessee State Park staff. As leaders, communicating across a widespread team can be challenging, but it is imperative for building a strong organization. By taping into the deeply held passion for the mission and sharing wins and initiatives, you can meet three key needs: provide information, entertainme

  • Minute in Nature

    10/03/2020 Duración: 15min

    Today’s social media-driven culture is saturated with negativity, politics and sales pitches. From Glacier National Park, Jeff Noel and Jody Maberry discuss the impact of Jody’s “Minute in Nature” moments on Instagram Stories.   Pausing to capture a minute of beauty in nature is a way of taking a moment and quieting ourselves. As Jody shares today, being intentional to put some positivity into the world is good for the soul and can help expose more people to the beauty that is found in the great outdoors, especially national parks.   Join the #minuteinnature movement and share your own minute in nature with the world.

  • Park Leader Families

    31/12/2019 Duración: 32min

    Phil Gaines returns to discuss family issues within park leadership.   For many park leaders with families, the relocations associated with the job can be taxing. In some cases, the move can be beneficial for the ranger, but not necessarily the family. According to Gaines, since ranger families are often the face of the family park experience, it’s important to know how to establish harmony and positive representation.   For instance, with succession planning and employee retention, parker leaders should factor their family into these endeavors to boost morale and accountability. After all, in a changing social climate where spouses are breadwinners and school transitions are complicated, bridging family strategy into employee strategy can reap beneficial dividends.

  • The Business Side of Parks

    24/12/2019 Duración: 32min

    Dan Bortner, Director of Indiana State Parks, discusses the “business” side of parks and the importance of fostering a healthy paradigm within your team. In the parks business, you must understand that your business is memory-making. Your product is a consistent experience across some of the most unique locations your state has to offer. Whether empowering the leaders under you or working with them to create a brand, building trust goes a long in setting the destination. Dan also discussed the value of surrounding yourself with integrity - honest people who may or may not be better than you. As leaders, it’s essential we not only empower our team to solve problems and make decisions but provide the method, the manpower and the materials needed to get the job done. In all things, it’s important to understand you are here for a brief amount of time and your goal must be to do the best you can while you are here.

  • The Importance of Trust in Park Management

    17/12/2019 Duración: 36min

    Grady Spann, Director of Arkansas State Parks, discusses the importance of trust in all aspects of park management and leadership.   After growing up in Brazil, receiving his degree, and serving in the army, Grady started his state park tenure as a Superintendent of an archeological park in Arkansas. Serving as the superintendent of multiple parks, the lessons he’s learned have served him well in his current role as Director of Arkansas State Parks. The importance of trust has proven a recurring theme, whether facilitating stadium events or hosting the State Parks Directors conference.   Regardless of the position, stewarding the trust of your customer, be it a camper, sports fan or visiting State Park Director, is paramount with serving in a parks program. Park leadership is not just about making changes – it’s about being a public servant. Embracing the Ranger First initiative recognizes that rangers deal with many things: hospitality, customer experience, and critical incidents. In each case, they have a d

  • The Medication of the Outdoors

    10/12/2019 Duración: 29min

    Ryan Jenkins, Park Manager at Henry Horton State Park, discusses his upbringing, his love for nature, and current projects. Raised in a National Forest Service family, Ryan pursued music and business in college before rediscovering his love for parks in his late 20’s. Since then, he has been active in promoting health initiatives involving park activities. One activity in particular, Healthy Parks Healthy Person, has been largely successful. Launched in 2015, the Healthy Parks Healthy Person is a stamp card program allowing app users to earn rewards based on their park activity. These points can then be redeemed as discounts and other benefits from participating businesses. The big-picture goal, as Ryan explains, “We just want to get people outside for their health. We want to create behavior change with this application. In order to do that, we utilize the gamification and technology…to try to get people into our parks.”

  • Building Parks with People

    03/12/2019 Duración: 22min

    Sean Woods, Superintendent of California State Parks, discusses his background and current position on this episode. Having taken a non-traditional path to his current role, Sean has spent almost 15 years bringing the State Park Mission to underprivileged, urban communities in Los Angeles. Through this initiative, he has supervised planning and development efforts at Rio de Los Angeles State Parks, Los Angeles State Historic Park, and the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook. In addition to these endeavors, Sean has pioneered planning efforts with Los Angeles River Parks to revitalize the use of local wetlands. In all projects, Sean’s ultimate goal is to work with people as well as for them in establishing a culture of inclusion.

  • The Difference Between Visitors and Fans

    26/11/2019 Duración: 20min

    While visitors come to parks to use facilities, fans come to connect with the people behind them. As Jody explains, not only do fans attend parks more frequently, but see the park experience as an extension of community. Often times, people will limit their appearances based on a specific event, but for the devoted fan, parks represent an opportunity to network both online and offline. As such, fans are more likely to offer meaningful contributions financially, socially, even environmentally as opposed to visitors.

  • Wildlife Protection and Wolf Poaching

    19/11/2019 Duración: 22min

    Adam Turner, Area Manager for the Anti-Poaching Unit in Sweden, discusses efforts in wildlife protection and local law enforcement partnership. Among his responsibilities, Turner highlights the rise of wolf poaching, propaganda, and his work to quench both. Although cities have been relatively unscathed, the fear of wolf attacks and poaching harassment has increased in rural communities. As Turner points out, while one could assume field surveys as the solution, the best way to deter poaching crimes is to team with governing authorities on increasing public awareness.

  • Creating A National Parks System in China

    12/11/2019 Duración: 47min

    Jon Jarvis, Executive Director of the Institute for Parks, People and Biodiversity at the University of California Berkeley, returns to discuss park projects in China. After leading a summer team to evaluate China’s national park system, Jarvis notes several positive developments. From President Xi’s “beautiful China” emphasis to local conservation efforts, the mission is clear: Do in ten years what America did in a hundred.  With high drive to establish a new park system, Jarvis believes China will implement a well-rounded national park program with adequate funding and government support. The question is can they deliver on their own time table goal?

  • The Next Generation of Park Rangers

    05/11/2019 Duración: 13min

    In this episode, Jody Maberry discusses the next wave of park rangers. While past and present rangers contrast in several areas, future rangers may not be as different as we think. The next generation of park leaders will be more inclined to know the purpose of what they do; however, they are similar to current leaders in wanting their voice to be heard. Jody expects future rangers to improve outreach efforts and charges current rangers to encourage interest and the difference between role and purpose in their work.

  • The Purpose of Park Rangers

    29/10/2019 Duración: 15min

    In this episode, we’re talking about the 3 P’s that define park leadership and service: people, places, and the past. The first ‘P’, people, captures the fundamental core of why park rangers exist. Without people, the purpose of park leadership cannot exist. The second ‘P’, places, represents communities from a physical and relational perspective. While most parks have fixed boundaries, since people and place can’t be separated, rangers can better serve viewing location through a social lens. The final ‘P’, the past, conveys personal significance as to why people return to parks. For many, the past is the reason to return to parks; however, for rangers, the past can also be a powerful management and motivational tool. As Gaines explains, not only is the past an emblem of legacy, but a foundation where others can do what they’re passionate about.

  • The Idea of Ranger First

    22/10/2019 Duración: 19min

    Phil Gaines returns to discuss what it means to be "ranger first". During the past 25 years, the role of a park ranger has changed dramatically. While much of this has centered on energy conservation and public education, one of the most significant swings in function has involved law enforcement. According to Gaines, the expectations of park rangers have evolved in part by increased connection to enforcement officials. Unfortunately, this has resulted in overstepped boundaries in certain situations. As Gaines goes on to explain, whether partnering with law enforcement or cleaning a bathroom, thinking 'ranger first' can simplify tough situations by keeping public service at the core of the action.

  • Are National Parks Staying Relevant?

    06/08/2019 Duración: 23min

    Phil Gaines returns to discuss the challenge of national parks staying relevant. While there are many ways for parks to remain meaningful, according to Gaines, embracing technology to make connections with the next generation is paramount. If parks want to stay relevant, they must convince young people to not only care about their resources, but invest leisure time. To do this, parks must employ quality customer service and technological innovation to create memorable recreation moments. Even if new technology proves disruptive, if parks can customize its involvement through their services, the stage will be set for visitors to see the return value.

  • Environmental Challenges in National Parks

    30/07/2019 Duración: 19min

    In this episode of the Park Leaders Show, Phil Gaines returns to discuss some of the environmental challenges national parks are facing. While climate change is a significant factor, for most park rangers and directors, the greatest impacts occur at the local level. For instance, there’s not much a park ranger can do to affect the weather apart from conservation efforts; however, a park ranger can take measures to monitor beach replenishment, safety of endangered species, and visitor use patterns. According to Gaines, while local level matters can be complex, by leading through the small things, park officials can better expand their influence. After all, leadership isn’t so much about the big things; it’s about recognizing the little things over time that become the big things.

  • The Primary Role of A Leader

    21/05/2019 Duración: 18min

    Phil Gaines returns to break down the role of a leader. While the challenges of leadership are many, arguably none are more taxing than motivation. From offering direction to removing obstacles, when leading by example, a leader must often be the example before he can model it; however, this pursuit can’t drive results by itself. If a leader wants to tie guidance to goals, then he must value and facilitate team community. As Gaines explains, the key to team community, as well as leadership at large, is servanthood. To be a quality leader, one must not only apply humility into upward mobility, but also prioritize team effort over individual performance. By targeting these strengths, a leader can be empowered to make difficult decisions and persevere under pressure.

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