With thousands of SCA alumni working in the conservation field, visiting a national park or forest can be like attending an SCA reunion. One such example is Carlsbad Caverns, where more than half the uniformed staff is made up of former SCA volunteers. Carlsbad isn’t just helping new rangers get in on the ground floor – they’re starting them below the surface.
“SCA got me into caving,” declares interpretive ranger Loren Reinhold, whose spelunking career also includes stints in the Ozark Mountains, Oregon Caves, and Great Basin National Park. “Without my SCA experience, I wouldn’t be here.”
Earning a job with the park service is an exceptionally competitive endeavor. But SCA, whose mission it is to build new generations of conservation leaders, provides aspiring candidates with the experience and networks they need to succeed.
“In all the different parks I’ve worked at, there are either SCA volunteers or former SCAs working at every one of them,” states Carlsbad ranger and SCA alum Matt Slater agrees. Last year, he says 15 SCA members served at the Cavern and all exceeded expectations. “Our best interpreters are SCAs,” adds Carlsbad ranger and alumnus Rob Lorenz. “They have so much energy and creativity. Seeing their enthusiasm, it definitely boosts the morale around here among staff.”
“SCA is great for the parks,” agrees Renee West, Carlsbad’s supervisory biologist, another who got her start through SCA when she took at resource management internship at Grand Canyon. “I got to learn a broad range of park operations and gained the experience I needed to begin my career.”
Keeping his voice to a whisper in the Hall of the White Giant, Ranger Reinhold says a favorite pastime is donning one of his old SCA tee shirts and walking through a national park. “You see SCA alumni all over the park service,” he explains. “Someone sees my shirt and it sparks conversation. SCA has opened so many doors for me.”