Those RVers who frequently camp in national parks might view the role of a park ranger as a dream job. Park rangers and other national park employees spend their workdays outdoors in a stunning setting and interact with people having fun outdoors—what’s not to like?
However, a recent survey conducted by the Partnership for Public Service reveals that the National Park Service (NPS) is near the bottom of the list in job satisfaction among government employees. The survey showed that national parks ranked 371 out of 432—the bottom 15 percent—of government agency employees surveyed for job satisfaction.
Park service employees answered survey questions on three issues: Would they recommend the NPS as a good workplace, job satisfaction, and how they viewed the organization as a whole.
Park service employees cited inadequate resources, poor salaries, and poor work–life balance. According to NPS director Charles “Chuck” Sams, the park service is suffering under a deficit of more than $22 billion in deferred maintenance and infrastructure, a figure the employees surveyed cited as demoralizing to their work efforts.
Another factor in low employee morale is the number of NPS employees. That number has declined from 16,000 employees during the period 2000–2010. But despite a brief surge during the pandemic boom in camp patronage in 2021, the park service has seen employment attrition dwindle by 25 percent to 12,000 employees. An example of the effect of the loss of staff strength is Bryce Canyon National Park, which lost 10% of its staff during 2000–2019 but experienced a 136% increase in park visitation during the same period.
As the NPS employees roster declines amid low morale, the arcane hiring process (the same across federal agencies) takes months while the pool of prospective hires is shrinking.
The survey also ranked the NPS at 396 out of 432 agencies regarding “the level of respect employees have for senior leaders, satisfaction with the amount of information provided by management and perceptions about senior leaders’ honesty, integrity and ability to motivate employees.”
Wow! Outstanding Comments Section Today! Great Statements Everyone!
I don’t know if there is underfunding or wasteful spending.
My brother worked for the Minnesota State Parks, part of the Dept of Natural Resources, for 42 years across several state parks. People at the parks, including him, had many ideas on how to do things with far less cost so more could be done with the same budget.
Unfortunately, the bureaucrats in St Paul didn’t want to listen and the “over-engineers” had to prove to someone they were earning their pay. Result: less done, low morale.
If everything gets fixed within the budget, how can they ask for more money next year? Pick a topic and it applies the same. Fix Immigration, no need for money. Fix the roads, no need to get more money next year to pretend to fix the roads. No war in Europe, no need for that extra $200 billion for the war industry on top of $800 billion in the y.o.y. spending. You can’t solve the Fentanyl crisis and still get increased funding for the junkies failing welfare system Can’t fix Immigration or we’ll lose some DHS funding and politicians lose the issue for reelection. They can’t lose the issues or they have no crisis to fix. Crisis is an industry for corrupt politicians and permanent Washington’s insatiable appetite for more money. Actually fix the problems and you lose the the issues that you promise to fix during a campaign. War on poverty is $20 trillion so far… how’s that working out? They need the issue.
Well said. It’s irrefutable that government (at all levels!) would always rather have the problem than the solution.
The truth is, you could randomly pick any 10 RVtravel readers names out of a hat and get more fixed than Washington pulls off. 40 plus years of broken immigration…… 50 year plus war on poverty…… and the 40 year war on drugs. There’s $34 trillion of waste. How much is our debt? Oh yeah, $33 trillion. There, I just found us an extra trillion for the year end party. It’s a jest but my point remains the same. A Solutions based and Results oriented government eliminates the issues of the decade for the next campaign.
Stop electing professional politicians and actually get some sh_t fixed. An owner of a food truck is better equipped in accounting to fix federal spending than permanent Washington Beaurocrats that have never made a payroll.
So why then do they continue to work there? Clearly all have made the decision that the benefits outweigh the negatives. Many of the NPS employees I have met, especially the rangers, seem unhappy and lack a sense of humor or even wonderment about where they are working. One reason why they choose to work out in nature is to get away from people and then they turn around and all those people are at their job asking crazy questions and doing wacky things. Sounds like an inherently jaded workforce in need of proper leadership.
Trouble with working for our government is they waste money on bull sh**. seminars and training that don’t pertain to the job. Park superintendent and supervisors can’t manage their park because of directions from senior management. Telling them what to do. Having to hire unqualified employees, unfair promotion system where the best person isn’t hired. Than not getting enough money.
I retired from a municipal park department. I had previously worked for a State agency and for a short time a Federal facility. No matter which level there is never enough funding, staff or quality of senior management available. Just like an improperly sealed land fill the worst trash usually rises to the top.
People want and expect the best from their government agencies but tax dollars go to the best lobbyists and the people seldom have those advocates working for them. And even the most dedicated citizens will choose smooth roads and safe bridges and safe drinking water over pristine parks.
If you think our interstate highways are becoming deplorable then you can understand why the parks and park employees satisfaction have been sliding downhill.
Pretty sad to see and hear about those reports
These survey results are especially damning because the actual perceptions are likely even worse than the survey results imply. My federal agency was an increasingly worse place to work during my approximate 25 years there, yet our survey results were always pretty good.
I’ve noticed a huge increase in the use of volunteers in government operated parks. This will partially account for the reduction in staff. Also, the government positions were effected by strict protocols due to COVID. Many seasoned workers did NOT wish to continue service under the new restricted work environment. We saw this in federal and in several State’s park services.
As our government spends our country into oblivion, nothing ever changes. How is that? Just where does it all go?
Tell politicians by your vote to quit skimming funds off the top for their “pet projects”. Road repair funds get redirected to mass transit so riders(local voters) don’t have to pay for their rides. I.e. I don’t know what the rate is now but several years ago in Chicago you could get on a bus for 50 cents and using the no additional cost transfer system keep riding from the south side to the north side, back to the west side and back home all for 50 cents you could spend the whole day riding the CTA. Think about that the next time you step into a voting booth. You know the incumbent is crooked, and you think their opponent may be crooked, but maybe not as crooked, take a chance on the new guy. You may be surprised.
I have wished for a very long time that we could designate where our tax dollars are spent. I would send mine to places like National Parks and Forests. We just drove home from a camping trip in Pisgah National Forest. The Blue Ridge Parkway was a very rough ride and trees were hanging low enough in some places to scrape the top of our small TT. I can’t imagine towing a fifth wheel on this poorly maintained road. The Parkway used to be well manicured but that was a very long time ago.
“$22 billion deficit in deferred maintenance and infrastructure”
So about 25% of the value of the equipment left in Afghanistan. Perhaps the new 80,000 IRS agents could be cut to 40,000 new agents and cover it? Maybe the $65,000.00/year/illegal multiplied by 6,000,000 in the last 3 years puts that cost at $400 billion per year. But we’re short $22 billion for out own parks.
Cry me a river. Bad management. BOTH PARTIES. Not a partisan issue.
So true so true. All the “perks” I ask for from the state and federal govt is for decent roads and nice parks. Haven’t had either for years. Seems like the last mass improvements American’s saw was during the CCC period in the 1930s