Ranger Adali Olivares
When my high school teacher asked if anyone was interested in a summer internship in the national parks, I honestly didn’t have a clue about the parks. Then he said it was paid ... and I realized I could help my family. But looking back, I can see that the six weeks I spent in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area changed my life forever.
We were completely immersed in the parks — doing restoration work and meeting with biologists and rangers. I even got to spend a week working at Channel Islands National Park. I was enthralled.
But I didn’t just fall in love with the parks that summer — I also met my wife, and we have been together ever since! Over the years, we’ve traveled from coast to coast to work at national parks including Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso, Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia and more.
Now that I’m back in L.A., what I love most is introducing people to the parks for the first time. I love helping underserved communities discover their public lands. I love working with the young people in our Youth Ambassador Program, helping them learn public speaking skills, community engagement, history, ecology and so much more.
For me, being a ranger is much more than a job. As a park ranger for Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, it’s my privilege to introduce underserved communities and use my Spanish language skills to share the parks with other members of the Latinx community.
It’s funny that now I’m the “old guy.” Today, I’m working with young people in a program similar to the one that sparked my love of the parks a decade ago. And I’m helping a new generation find that spark for themselves. I love to help the youth I work with gain ownership of the public lands around them.
There is a place for everyone here in the parks. You may be young, you may be from a working-class neighborhood, you may not be a native English speaker, but our national parks are here for you, too.