The job of National Park Ranger is steeped in history and mythology, with most seeing them as the friendly stewards of our most beautiful and pristine natural places.
Others may think of lovable characters like Ranger Smith from the Yogi Bear cartoon series, blissfully unaware that one of our most beloved parks is named Yellowstone, not Jellystone.
Regardless of your mental conception of park rangers, one thing’s for certain: there has never been one quite like Betty Reid Soskin, who has made national news headlines lately for her many years of service and dedication to her job.
Betty Soskin, America’s Oldest Active Park Ranger, Retires at 100
There are 1,776 sworn members of the National Park Service’s team of rangers currently, but Betty Reid Soskin is no longer one of them.
She retired late last month after 15 years of service, “spending her last day providing an interpretive program to the public and visiting with co-workers,” a statement from the Service said.
The nation’s oldest active park ranger is now hanging up her Smokey hat at the age of 100.
It all began with the goal of going above and beyond the call of duty: she wanted to tell the ‘untold stories’ of Black people’s efforts during World War II.
Working at the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California, Betty was given the opportunity to reach her goals.
“It Has Proven to Bring Meaning to My Final Years’
According to Betty, her time with the Park Service was incredibly enjoyable, something she will miss as she now heads into her well-deserved retirement.
‘Being a primary source in the sharing of that history – my history – and giving shape to a new national park has been exciting and fulfilling,’ Soskin said in the Park Service statement.
‘It has proven to bring meaning to my final years.’
Betty previously worked for the U.S. Air Force in a segregated union auxiliary in 1942 called the Boilermakers Union A-36.
During her days there, she was able to learn about the experiences and efforts of women from diverse backgrounds who worked during the War.
She started with the Park Service in 2007 and became a permanent employee in 2011, celebrating her 100th birthday last September.
‘Betty has made a profound impact on the National Park Service and the way we carry out our mission,’ Director Chuck Sams said.
‘Her efforts remind us that we must seek out and give space for all perspectives so that we can tell a more full and inclusive history of our nation.’
Betty was also called a “trailblazer” for her unique contributions to the park and its visitors. She also has a history as a civil rights activist and was named California Woman of the Year in 1995.
“Park Ranger Betty Reid Soskin has been a trailblazer for women and the Park Service,” U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland tweeted.
“After countless tours at @RosieRiveterNPS and millions of smiles, today she is retiring.
On behalf of @Interior, thank you, Betty, for your service. You will be missed.”