Ranger Jennifer Raffaeli
I found my dream job. As kennel manager at Denali National Park & Preserve in Alaska, I get to start every workday surrounded by the most enthusiastic co- workers around — our friendly and hardworking sled dogs.
As a kid, I loved the outdoors and dreamed of being a veterinarian. I spent years as an Outward Bound instructor, led wilderness trips, and taught for outdoor education nonprofits. But when I first learned to run sled dogs in Minnesota, I was hooked. After a couple of summers working in Denali, the kennel manager position opened up — and I was thrilled to be chosen. To have the chance to combine all the things I love — dogs, national parks, and travelling in wilderness — makes me such a lucky person.
Since 1922, sled dogs have been the most reliable — and fun — way to access Denali’s two million acres of federally- designated wilderness. Our wilderness designation means that we really depend on our dogs in the winter months to patrol the park, transport scientists to their research stations deep in the wilderness, and move supplies from place to place.
What a lot of people don’t understand about our sled dogs is that they absolutely love their jobs. When we bring the sled out, they start barking and jumping for joy. They can’t wait to get into their harnesses and off onto the trail!
And they’re still plenty busy in the summer months, even without snow on the ground. From May to September, the dogs are Denali Ambassadors. Dogs and rangers alike, we do what we believe in and give our all to protect this place we love. That’s true passion.