These parks serve more than 5.5 million park visitors each year.
“It really surprises me how many actually out of state visitors we have, even out of country. I’ve run into groups from Australia [and] from Europe before, and really consistently they give us very positive feedback on the parks,” said park ranger sergeant Mason Bulthuis.
People come to work with the park rangers from different backgrounds and with different future goals. Bulthuis started in high school, working at the park gatehouse, and slowly worked his way up. He has been a park ranger sergeant for three years.
“Normal days are a balance between providing guest service and responding to incidents that are occurring in the parks,” said Bulthuis.
Incidents range from a dog off a leash to serious medical emergencies.
Beyond that, part of a ranger’s job is helping the guests, who often have questions about the parks systems and where to find certain amenities. Mason has a couple park areas that he considers to be some of the best places to go.
“I love Rum River Central. I think it’s a beautiful park that has some great walking trails,” said Bulthuis. “And I also strongly, strongly encourage people to check out the boardwalk that’s located at Martin – Island – Linwood Lakes Regional Park.”
Whichever park Mason works each day, his office is one of a kind.
“I love getting to be out in the parks and actually interact and talk to the park visitors every day. Everybody has a new unique story and a new unique perspective; and also getting to interact with nature and getting to interact with the parks, it’s just so rewarding every day.”