“As a park ranger and as a human being, there are opportunities to better yourself, others, and the world around you every second, all the time.
I think that’s the ultimate goal, to leave this place a little better than you found it”.
Celia Trivette, a 2014 Parks, Recreation and Tourism Alumni, works as a State Park Ranger for the NC Department of Natural Resources. Each day her duties include law enforcement, resource management, trail building/maintenance, interpretive programs, and park operations. Celia’s passion for protecting natural resources and educating people about the environment stems from her childhood, where she spent all of her time outdoors backpacking, rock climbing, kayaking, fishing, and exploring nature.
I was very fortunate to grow up in North Carolina State Parks. My dad was a ranger for 34 years and having the opportunity to grow up in the outdoors with 13,500 acres of protected public land to play in in my backyard really instilled a passion for nature inside me. I could see how the work that my dad was doing impacted and inspired others, and that led me to realize that parks were the only place I wanted to be. Not only protecting the natural resources, but also educating people about the environment and responding to those in need while they were recreating in the parks was very appealing to me.
Where do you get your personal motivation?
My personal motivation comes from knowing that, even in some small way, I am making a difference in the world every day. Whether it be spraying invasive species, responding to an emergency, getting kids and adults to understand their impact on the ecosystem, or just finding a way to make someone smile, no deed is too small. As a park ranger and as a human being, there are opportunities to better yourself, others, and the world around you every second, all the time. I think that’s the ultimate goal, to leave this place a little better than you found it.
What were some of the highlights within the PRTM program?
I had so many great experiences at NC State and I really enjoyed most of my classes in the PRTM program. The ones that always stick out to me, though, are Outdoor Leadership, Park Planning, the GRSM Consortium, and the Harris Lake County Park internship. Each of those courses gave me valuable skills and experiences that I was able to take with me into my career.
Was there a teacher or advisor that had an impact on your journey?
David Carter and Susanne Morais were incredible teachers and are even better people. The passion that they both obviously have for their subjects and their students is unparalleled by anyone else I met in my academic career. I feel extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to get to know them both inside and outside of the classroom.
My very first paying job in parks was as a ranger in Yellowstone National Park while I was still in college. Working in a park that size, I talked with hundreds of people every day and one thing that really stood out to me is that overall, we are all the same. Almost everyone has the same wants, needs, fears, and insecurities. Bringing that back into myself and connecting everyone else to who I am at my core has made it easier to accept and be more empathetic to the things that happen, good or bad, not only in my career, but in my personal life, as well.
What has been a favorite experience you’ve had as of yet in your career?
I have had so many amazing experiences in my career that it would be hard to pick just one. Watching people, especially kids, get excited about the outdoors and being in a place to protect the environment is fulfilling in so many ways. There are a lot of unique experiences, too, that have been really exciting to be part of, like rafting and hiking in places that no one knows about, getting short-hauled by a helicopter as part of a training, getting to work with endangered species, and being deployed for natural disasters. On a more personal note, I have had hours and hours of training in every aspect of my job and it’s so much fun to expand my skills and know that I am capable of responding to any type of call that comes in.
How do you feel PRTM prepared you to be a park ranger?
Having significant volunteer and seasonal experience gave me a pretty good grasp on the field work side of things. PRTM showed me the deeper operational aspects of parks and what it would take to be a supervisor. There were also several classes that challenged me to think of parks and the people who use them in different ways than I’d ever considered before. I have reverted back to my classes so many times when trying to think of ways to make parks more friendly and accessible for everyone. I had experience with State and National Parks, but very limited experience with other agencies, like City and County parks or even the Wildlife Resources Commission. PRTM gave me insight into the diversity of these entities that I would eventually be working or training alongside.
My advice for incoming students would be to make the most of your time in school before you have to start looking into career opportunities. There are volunteer and summer seasonal positions available all over the country with countless agencies and organizations. This will not only allow you to see what types of jobs you like and, more importantly what you don’t like, but it will also give you a stronger resume. You won’t be able to find a career job without real world experience and college is the perfect time to be taking initiative and to start making a name for yourself. Your instructors are valuable resources that can help you decide where you want to go, so get to know them. Lastly, I would say to fully engage in your classes. PRTM sets you up to have a successful career; all you really have to do is show up and bring your best. That being said, give yourself breaks and always make time to do the things that you enjoy with the people you care about.
Getting a degree in PRTM from NC State and becoming a State Ranger was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. It may take a while to break into the field, but try not to get discouraged. Be confident in your training, experience, and yourself. No matter what position you get into, there will always be challenging times and that’s okay. Use these times as a lesson and know that there are more good times than bad. Always remember to look for the small things and don’t ever be afraid to ask for help.
“You have some of the best information and instructors at your disposal right now and there is absolutely no reason why you
shouldn’t succeed at anything you put your heart into”.