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Legendary Locals: O.C. Woman Dodges Daily Attacks
by: Debbie L. Sklar
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Believe it or not, the hiring process for Velasquez's job takes about a year.
Believe it or not, the hiring process for Velasquez's job takes about a year.

Who said that park rangers had to be men?

Certainly not Jacky Velasquez who is the Supervising Park Ranger for OC Parks.

What does a park ranger actually do these days? A lot.

“The job of a park ranger is very diverse; we need to be knowledgeable in manner areas of park management and be able to make decisions that would affect the public, staff and environment. As an Orange County park ranger, our primary duties are interpretation, enforcement, emergency services, maintenance, supervision, natural and cultural resource management, daily park operations, stewardship, administration and community outreach.”

She said be became interested back in 2001 when she started as a park attendant and fell in love with parks and the outdoors.

“I worked closely with the park rangers presenting programs, coordinating volunteer events and assisting in natural and cultural resource management projects. While working with the State Park Rangers, I realized my goal and started to take steps to achieving my calling,” she recalls.

And if you didn't think you needed any experience, guess again.

"To be an Orange County Parks ranger you are required to be over the age of 21 and have a high school diploma. However, the position for park ranger is extremely desirable; in fact whenever there is recruitment for the position within our agency there are at least few hundred applicants. Therefore, advanced education and applicable experience helps set you apart and competitively apply for the position," she says.

The hiring process takes about 1 year, and consists of a written exam, preliminary interview, background check through Orange County Sheriffs, medical and psych testing and a final interview. Once you are hired, new park rangers go through an OC Parks Ranger Academy with POST certification and park ranger specific training.

“As an example, I graduated in 2008 with my Master’s in Anthropology, have experience in parks since 2001, have training in fire suppression, supervision, natural and cultural resource management, stewardship, trail maintenance, emergency services and many other areas where I have been able to part take in,” she says.

The best part about her job is mentoring new park rangers and staff and being able to pass on my passion for parks and open space.

“I love teaching volunteers, kids and students and of course I love taking the time to hike our trails on a beautiful spring day,” she says.

Born in El Salvador, Central America, this 29-year-old who looks up to her mom as her mentor says she’s luckily never been attacked by any animals.

“No, I have never been attacked by animals. Would you count bees, gnats, mosquitoes and ticks? If yes, then yes,” she laughs. "During the summer, we frequently find visitors who are lost and dehydrated on the trails. Some of these visitors do not realize it gets very hot in the hills and water goes fast.”

When asked who she prefers, Boo-Boo or Yogi Bear and which one she’d rather meet:

“Yogi Bear of course!” she says.


Debbie L. Sklar is a 20+year journalism veteran residing in Southern California, where she is a writer, columnist and editor for many local, regional and national publications. Sklar may be reached via e-mail at DebbieSklar@cox.net
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