A PARKS VICTORIA ranger says more people have become interested in the state’s national parks during his 35 years in the role.
Apollo Bay-based ranger Gary Summers started working as a park ranger about 35 years ago when he was looking for a career change.
Mr Summers said he grew up in Walkerville, South Gippsland, and was working on his family’s farm when he walked into a Parks Victoria office searching for a job.
“Things weren’t going too well on the farm at the time so I walked into the Parks office one time and they were looking for guys on the re-employment scheme and that’s how I got my foot in the door,” he said.
“Things have generally changed a lot over that time; I think one of the biggest changes we’ve had is that it wasn’t really cool to be a conservationist when I first started.”
Mr Summers said teachers from his high-school years and other rangers had inspired him throughout his career.
“One of my key values has always been trying to educate people,” he said.
“I’ve spent time talking to young people about the sort of values we have in our parks.
“I think one of the key values I like of Parks is imparting the knowledge that I have onto people and getting them passionate about national parks.”
Mr Summers said he had worked at Apollo Bay for 15 years and a majority of the locations he had worked were close to the beach.
“I am mad keen surfer and SCUBA diver and will take any excuse to get into the water,” he said.
“The marine areas are where my passions really lie, although the majority of my time is spent on managing the terrestrial natural values of our park.”
Today is World Ranger Day and Mr Summers said it was nice to have a day recognising the hard work of rangers because they often avoided “blowing their own horn”.
He said Parks Victoria’s motto, Healthy People Healthy Parks, showed the importance of rangers and maintaining the natural attractions.
“The thing that I’ve noticed is the number of people that really do value our wilderness areas,” he said.
“To go up to Forrest for example and see on any weekend hundreds of people on their mountain bikes riding through our forest and national parks; that’s just an example of the people getting out and really enjoying the areas and keeping fit.”