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Immediate Job Opening:  

SENIOR PARK RANGER – Conservation Landscaping & Safety      


The ideal candidate is energized by the opportunity to help shape programs from the ground up at an award-winning new 40-acre urban nature park, Paradise Creek Nature Park,, in Portsmouth, VA.  Responsibilities include: 1) Serve as site manager to oversee the horticultural integrity of volunteer, student and youth efforts to restore the conservation value of an urban landscape that includes a mature forest, tidal wetlands and native plant beds; 2) Conduct safety patrols and coordinate site safety initiatives, 3) Provide horticulture training to staff, volunteers, students and youth with a special focus on  introducing conservation ethics and horticulture skills to urban youth. 

A degree and experience in horticulture, conservation landscape gardening or closely related fields is required. Law enforcement experience is also a big plus; experience as an armed park ranger is ideal but not required. A minimum of three years’ experience is preferred working with public parks including experience and compatibility with conducting safety patrols (urban setting preferred). Excellent communication skills required. Must enjoy and have an aptitude for small handy-man projects as well as landscaping. Experience presenting education programs a plus. 

The ranger will work as part of a team of environmental educators on the staff of the non-profit Elizabeth River Project,, one of the oldest and largest non-profits working to restore any tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. The ranger will coordinate efforts with the City of Portsmouth, which separately provides routine site maintenance such as mowing and trail maintenance. In an award-winning partnership, the City operates the site as its third largest public park while Elizabeth River Project manages volunteer, education and environmental conservation landscaping at the site. This position reports to the Elizabeth River Project.  Full-time hours, typically Tuesday-Saturday; competitive salary and strong benefits.


  • Serve as site manager responsible for planning, coordinating and overseeing the horticultural integrity of multiple on-going projects to enhance the conservation value of the park’s urban forest, restored tidal wetland, managed beds and educational facilities. 
    • Multiple other staff will design and lead volunteer, student and youth programs at the park to plant and maintain native species and remove invasive species. 
    • The role of the Senior Urban Park Ranger will be to ensure a dynamic master plan for conservation landscaping is being followed throughout these initiatives; effective landscaping practices are used to enhance survival of plantings and enhance the aesthetic and educational experience of park visitors, and the plan is continually adjusted as site conditions change, taking into account expert advice of multiple project partners. 
  • Includes hands-on landscape gardening. Requires the ability to work outdoors in all conditions for long periods of time, ability to lift at least 50 lbs., ability to use gardening tools and power-operated equipment.
  • Oversee a part-time landscaping assistant.
  • Oversee the landscaping integrity of initiatives to include an “edible park” program promoting edible native plants, a start-up “youth conservation corps” engaging urban youth in to remove invasive plants, plant native plants, pick up litter and the like; episodic volunteer events to assist with landscaping, and student field trips to engage students in “service learning” in which they install or maintain native plant beds for the benefit of wildlife.
  • Coordinate conservation landscaping efforts of Elizabeth River Project with routine maintenance efforts of the City of Portsmouth.
  • Conduct routine park safety patrols to provide a friendly, welcoming presence to visitors while identifying and proactively addressing safety risks. Notify enforcement, medical response and other authorities as appropriate. 
  • Oversee facility management for a modest two-room education building operated by Elizabeth River Project. Perform light facility maintenance as needed and/or coordinate contractor assistance with maintenance.
  • Train volunteers, staff, students and youth in horticultural techniques such as planting, weeding, removing invasive species, transplanting and thinning. Assist with school field trips as needed as part of a larger education team of Elizabeth River Project.
  • Assist with management of grants and budgets relating to the park.
  • Other duties as assigned to support the education and restoration programs of the Elizabeth River Project.


  • Horticulture or closely related degree and conservation landscaping experience is required. Ability to identify native plants of SE Virginia and identify and plan for effective removal of invasive species for SE Virginia. Experience with creating and carrying out landscape master plans to achieve goals in both aesthetics and environmental enhancement.
  • Law enforcement experience a big plus. Experience as an armed park ranger ideal but not required.
  • A minimum of three years’ experience in a public park setting is preferred, to include experience and compatibility with safety patrols (experience in an urban setting is preferred).
  • Training/experience presenting youth /volunteer education programs preferred. Excellent communication skills; ability to communicate horticulture topics with contagious enthusiasm.
  • Management training and experience; proven ability to multi-task, meet deadlines, manage budgets, manage other staff and volunteers
  • Excellent public interaction skills. Pleasant, welcoming attitude.
  • A strong understanding and commitment to environmental stewardship.
  • Must pass a criminal background check  
  • Must be available for a schedule that includes Saturdays on a routine basis
  • Ability to work outdoors for prolonged periods in all weather
  • Ability to lift 50 lbs. and operate landscape equipment
  • A “can do,” positive attitude
  • Ability to problem-solve and think independently
  • Can manage logistical challenges and emergencies in the field
  • Compatible with a small, fast-paced, non-profit work environment
  • Welcomes feedback
  • Courage and persistence - thrives on the challenge of inventing new programs


Full-time position with a typical schedule of Tuesday-Saturday. Salary range of $40,000 - $55,000 annual salary depending on qualifications. Benefits include paid vacation (two to five weeks based on seniority with the company), 12 paid holidays, paid personal leave days, employer cost-share of health insurance. Mileage reimbursement for travel on the job. 


Send cover letter, resume and three professional references to Marjorie Mayfield Jackson, Executive Director, Elizabeth River Project, 475 Water Street C103-A, Portsmouth, VA 23704. Email OK to but hard copy also advised. No phone calls please.


Environmental Education 

Seasonal, part-time. Non-profit Elizabeth River Project is looking for seasonal educators to teach environmental education on The Learning Barge, America’s Greenest Vessel. Be a part of educating elementary, middle and high school students participating in outdoor field investigations with hands on activities. Work with a team while teaching Elizabeth River environmental education, sea-level rise, ecology, native plants and animals, water quality testing and more. Learn in-depth about Elizabeth River environmental challenges and solutions while fostering a new generation of river stewards throughout its restoration. Ideal applicants are team players and have a science, recreation, or teaching background, although diverse backgrounds are welcome. Must be physically able to carry field trip materials sometimes up to 50 lbs. Experience working with youth preferred. First aid/CPR preferred, but not required. We are looking for self-motivated, energetic, people-oriented candidates with strong communication skills, proven reliability, punctual and professional attitudes. Great opportunity to serve as a mentor for young environmental stewards. Must be enthusiastic about working outdoors.

Applications accepted year round, but hiring only occurs in February and August. Applications will be held until ready for review. Seasons are from March-June and September-December. Up to 25 hours per week, weather depending. Typical hours are between 8-2 pm Monday – Friday with occasional evening and weekend hours. Seasonal Educators must be available to work Monday – Friday during the times listed above. Background check will be required. Must have reliable transportation. This seasonal, outdoor position is $10/hour. Please e-mail resume and references to Robin Dunbar ( with subject line: “Seasonal Educator Position”. NO PHONE CALLS PLEASE.

Job Type: Part-time

Salary: $10.00 /hour


It is the policy of the Elizabeth River Project to provide equal employment opportunities for all persons, without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, gender, age, veteran status, disability, political affiliation, sexual orientation or genetic information. Minorities, women, veterans and individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply.