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From Girl Scout to park ranger: Grad embraces environmental ethics

May 01, 2012

Jacqueline Ginter first became interested in the study of natural resources when as a young girl, she served as a Brownie Girl Scout.

"I continued on to become a Junior Girl Scout and then a Cadette Girl Scout," she says. "My mother was the troop leader, and really instilled a passion for the environment and natural world in me at an early age."

Through Girl Scouts, Ginter gained a greater understanding of how essential the Earth's resources are to human survival. This understanding quickly grew into a strong environmental ethic: "I remember at the age of 10 donating all my Christmas money to an environmental fund," she says.

Ginter, who graduates this spring from ASU's School of Community Resources and Development, within the College of Public Programs, will apply her bachelor's degree in parks and recreation management toward continuing the work she started as an intern with Arizona State Parks.

"I hope to change the world by educating children on the importance of protecting and preserving the environment for future generations to enjoy," Ginter says. "I was fortunate to have this experience firsthand as an intern for Arizona State Parks."

Working as a ranger assistant at Oracle State Park Center for Environmental Education, Ginter prepared and led education programs, worked with the general public on open Saturdays at the park, and worked with children to complete the Junior Ranger program.

She also performed a number of various tasks that park rangers are expected to do in a given day, including trail work, training, setting up meetings, working with volunteers and with the media, and making the needed repairs: "I worked on rebuilding the park boundary fence line," Ginter says.

"Park rangers are very busy people!" she adds.

Her time at ASU not only will culminate in a degree; Ginter says she has met many colleagues and lifelong friends through ASU, and she also has become connected with several volunteer groups and student associations on campus. Ginter's volunteer work extends to nonprofit groups such as Vegan Outreach and the Humane Society, but it will be environmental stewardship that she plans to focus on professionally, now that her undergraduate career is behind her.

"I would like to educate others on the issues surrounding the state parks system and what they can do to help," Ginter says. "Many people are simply unaware, and when they learn what they can do, they realize that it is up to them to join the movement in creating positive change."

Ginter reminds the public that reusing items, buying locally, starting a garden and writing letters to your governing representatives can make a positive impact in the health of the environment and the community.

Looking back on where she started from, she says the ethic of caring for the environment that she learned as a young girl has only been enhanced through a growing knowledge and daily practice of mindful environmental living – and her bachelor's degree is another step in that direction.

"Like my mother, I hope to become a Girl Scout leader someday, if I ever have children of my own. Simple things can really make a difference."