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Ponderosa State Park. PC Idaho Parks and Recreation

Featured Article

Inspired by Nature

Meet Your Idaho State Park Rangers

Article by Chelsea Chambers

Photography by Idaho Parks and Recreation, Travis Taylor, Erik Ryan, Chelsea Chambers

Originally published in Boise Lifestyle

"A park ranger is a protector" - this quote by Kurt Caswell perfectly summarizes the role of park rangers in Idaho Parks and Recreation. As guardians of the natural resources and cultural heritage found within Idaho's state parks, park rangers are trained to safeguard visitors from potential hazards while also enforcing park rules and regulations. Their responsibilities range from conducting patrols and providing assistance to visitors to monitoring wildlife populations and responding to emergencies. Above all, park rangers are passionate about preserving Idaho's natural beauty and ensuring its longevity for future generations. Their unwavering commitment to conservation makes them an essential part of Idaho's park system.

Ranger Amanda Grant

Ponderosa State Park (McCall)

Working year-round in McCall makes for a very diverse day-to-day experience. “In the winter, my day usually starts off with plowing and moving snow with our trucks, tractor, and snowblowers. Some mornings, I'm out at 4:30 AM grooming our Nordic ski and snowshoe trails.  During the summer, a lot of our effort becomes focused on maintaining our campgrounds and on compliance issues,” Amanda said.  “But when I'm not doing all that, I'm very fortunate that I get to work with our many conservation, education, science, and recreation partners in McCall.”

Amanda’s passion has always been with the environment and conservation. So it came as no surprise that she aligned her academic path with the natural world and pursued an undergrad in Environmental Science and Geology at the College of William and Mary and a Master’s in Environmental Science and Policy from Northern Arizona University. Before becoming a park ranger with Idaho Parks and Recreation, she was a river guide and ski/snowboard instructor—a job that took her all over the western U.S. She previously worked for the Forest Service in botany, soils, and as a River Ranger. She also spent two years working for an Idaho Soil and Conservation District.

As an Interpretive Ranger, Amanda gets to spend her days planning educational activities and experiences for her park visitors. She does everything from guided snowshoe hikes to interpretive talks on different tree species at the park.

“It is great being able to provide educational opportunities and events for the public, to see how enthusiastic kids (and adults!) get during lessons and talks, and to work every day on Idaho’s beautiful public lands.”

Park description: Ponderosa State Park offers every kind of overnight experience imaginable with a variety of campsites and or cabins, amid a beyond-scenic mountain setting next to Payette Lake. The lake surrounds the Peninsula Unit and is the shoreline of the North Beach Unit of the park, located in the heart of one of Idaho’s most popular year-round destinations. Hike and bike on your own or with a guide, listen to a park naturalist in the evening at the amphitheater or walk with them on one of the trails.

Ranger Boomer Vuori

Massacre Rocks State Park (American Falls)

“I didn’t always want to be a park ranger, I actually wanted to be a professional skier growing up,” shared Ranger Boomer Vuori. “But I always knew that I wanted to work outside and not be confined to a 9-5 desk job.”

Far from being tied to a desk, Boomer spends his days working on trucks, operating heavy equipment, helping visitors, transporting rattlesnakes, and whatever else the day may call for. Specializing in everything from natural resource management to rescue operations, you never quite know what you’re going to get.

Boomer—affectionately nicknamed at birth after legendary NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason—grew up in Northwest Washington and moved to Moscow at age 18 to attend University of Idaho. He studied Recreation, Sport, and Tourism Management with a minor in Outdoor Recreation Leadership. He spent his college career as member and captain of the Alpine Ski Team and brought home a silver medal in Dual Slalom at the 2019 USCSA National Championships. After returning to Moscow to complete his master’s degree, his fiancé wanted to move to Pocatello and finish her own graduate program. “I was not sure on what I was going to do for work in Pocatello,” said Boomer. “But by a stroke of luck, a Ranger position with Massacre Rocks opened up, and I am very happy to be back with the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation!”

“My advice to those looking to become a ranger would be to get in at the ground level and spend a season or two as a seasonal. Develop your skills and see if it is something that you want to pursue. Being a seasonal isn’t glamorous work by any means, but it gives you a great base to start from!”

Park Description: Located on the mighty Snake River, Massacre Rocks State Park is rich in history and full of year-round recreation. Miles of hiking trails provide access to a bounty of plant and bird species, Oregon Trail history, and geologic wonders. Rock climbers enjoy numerous routes. A world-class disc golf course provides players with one of the most challenging courses in Idaho.

Ranger Bri Ford-Sabin

Lucky Peak State Park (Boise)

Before she became a full-time park ranger with Lucky Peak State Park, Ranger Bri Ford-Sabin spent her summers as a seasonal employee and winters at Bogus Basin, supervising ski school sales. “Working in parks was a big career change for me and I’m so glad I made the switch,” she explained. “Being a ranger is definitely my calling.”

Bri graduated from Missouri’s Central Methodist University in 2014; she studied Sports Performance and Secondary Education. She then devoted years to working in physical therapy clinics and as a certified athletic trainer.  

“So how in the world did a girl from Missouri in the sports performance and medical fields end up working for Idaho Parks and Recreation? I took a very big leap of faith! When I was in 6th grade, I went to an environmental camp called Camp K.E.E.P (Kern Environmental Education Program). After that one week I knew I wanted to do what those naturalists and rangers were doing. I wanted a job out in the wild—exploring, sharing, and protecting the outdoors.”

After several years in sports medicine, Bri had a hard time envisioning herself being fulfilled long-term with her chosen career path. “I just wanted a greater sense of purpose and contribution to the natural world, I wanted a career I was passionate about not just interested in.”

Over the next couple of years, Bri made the transition to Idaho. She took classes in natural resources and wildlife and forestry conservation and joined the Idaho Master Naturalist Volunteer Program. “In a way, getting the opportunity to work for Idaho State Parks was a homecoming for me. Getting back to the things that set my soul on fire and down a trail for a lifelong career!” Bri said, with a smile. “Now here I am leading interpretation in a state park, hopefully inspiring the next generation and for that I am eternally grateful.”

Park description: Three distinct day use units make up Lucky Peak State Park. Discovery is a popular roadside park that is a great place to host a company party or family reunion. Sandy Point, at the base of the Lucky Peak Dam, is popular for its beach and clear, cool water. Spring Shores offers lakeside access for water enthusiasts by providing two boat ramps, parking, a marina, watercraft rentals, and a convenience store.

Ranger Errin Bair

Farragut State Park (Athol)

Ranger Errin Bair has been working in the parks and recreation world for more than 20 years. An avid mountain biker, hiker, and watercolor enthusiast, Errin spends her days coordinating volunteers, running patrol, overseeing interpretive programming, and whatever else duty may call for.

“I started work when I was in college with two small kids. I was a single mom and started school late. Still, I ended up earning four applied science degrees over the next five years—Forestry, Natural Resource Management, Soils, and Wildlife Biology. I also have an endorsement in pottery, for what it’s worth,” Errin said, with a wink. “Alongside that, I am a certified Interpretive Guide and maintain a Water Systems Operator license.”

“As park rangers we wear many hats. We are compliance enforcement, landscapers, restroom cleaners, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, babysitters, educators, graphic design artists, and a shoulder to cry on.”

Like all rangers, she has her share of challenges to face at Farragut State Park. But for her, it’s all worth it. “I love teaching kids the Latin names for trees, or seeing peoples’ faces when they first experience our museum,” Errin mused. “The WWII veterans that I have met, the stories they tell, the appreciation they have for what we do, it all fills my heart. People truly appreciate what we do here!”

Park Description: Once a WWII naval training station, Farragut State Park is located on the southern tip of Lake Pend Oreille in the Coeur d’Alene Mountains of northern Idaho. Farragut offers unique scenery, history and an abundance of recreational opportunities, including disc golf, a radio-controlled airplane field, fishing, hiking, biking, equestrian facilities and World War II history — don’t miss the Museum at the Brig!

  • Boomer Vuori
  • PC Travis Taylor
  • Boomer Vuori
  • Massacre Rocks State Park, Boomer Vuori
  • Bri Ford-Sabin at Lucky Peak State Park
  • Amanda Grant at Ponderosa State Park
  • Amanda Grant at Ponderosa State Park
  • Amanda - Ponderosa State Park in McCall, Idaho
  • Ponderosa State Park. PC Idaho Parks and Recreation
  • Bri Lucky Peak State Park
  • PC Chelsea Chambers
  • Farragut State Park. PC Erik Ryan
  • Errin - Farragut State Park
  • Errin Bair
  • Errin Bair
  • Errin Bair