John Wales '99
"Sometimes it's hard for me to believe that I get paid to do this job."
Graduation Year: 1988
What City/ State are you from? Bristol, CT
What City/ State to you currently live in? Newark, DE
Current Career Title: Delaware State Park Ranger / Captain
Business/ Organization you work for: Delaware Natural Resources Police – State Parks Enforcement
What was your Major? Ecology
Did you switch majors during your time at Unity College? Yes. I started as a Wildlife Management major. I switched to Ecology during my freshman year.
What was your favorite thing about your time at Unity College? Did you have a favorite tradition? Cross country skiing on the snowmobile trails and exploring the area. My favorite tradition was attending The Common Ground Fair. Back then, the fair was in a different location but it was and continues to be uniquely Maine experience.
What advice would you give to current Unity College students? Attend a few classes that are completely outside of your major. I attended a rock climbing class my sophomore year which introduced me to Acadia National Park which helped spark my interest in pursuing a career as a park ranger. Be open to the idea of taking a summer job, or full-time job, anywhere. Being a Delaware State Park Ranger wasn’t on my radar when I was a student at UC. Coming out of college I wanted to work Connecticut State Parks but I’m glad that I was open to the idea of moving to Delaware. What started as a job turned into a career and now my coworkers are like family to me.
Did you utilize career services for you internship or career search? If so, in what ways? Yes. UC Career Services made me aware that the State of Delaware was posting for vacant park ranger positions. I wouldn’t have known about the position if UC hadn’t made me aware of the job posting.
Is your current job in your field of study, or did you end up going a different direction than you thought? My college courses helped me get a seasonal job as a patrol officer with Connecticut State Parks. I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in park law enforcement but I chose a more general environmental-related field of study so that I would have a safety net.
Tell us a little about your current job and what it entails: I patrol state park lands, enforce State Park regulations and the laws of the State of Delaware, conduct criminal investigations, and ensure public and staff safety. I supervise eight full-time State Park Rangers in the northern half of Delaware. I monitor and assess the work performance, training needs, and work output of my full-time officers. I oversee major investigations. I am responsible for scheduling of officers and for the assignment of enforcement resources. I assist with the development of enforcement policies and procedures. I develop enforcement operational goals and objectives. I work with other law enforcement agencies and with public and private groups and organizations to coordinate special events and operations.
Are you happy in your current career? Yes, I absolutely love what I do. My career is more than a job, it’s a lifestyle that meshes with my personal interests. Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe that I get paid to do this job.
Did you feel Unity College prepared you for your career? Absolutely. I do not think that I would have gotten into this career field if I had not attended Unity College. The UC program fit my needs and my personality. Unity was far enough away from home that I learned to be independent. The small class sizes and the accessibility of my college instructors helped me thrive academically. This all led to my dream job. I can’t thank the college enough.
If you haven’t already, are you considering graduate school down the road? No, I’ve been a park ranger with my agency for almost 28 years. I am looking forward to retirement and moving back to Maine.