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Urban Park Ranger - Paradise Creek Nature Park (immediate opening)

SUMMARY – The Urban Park Ranger will ensure a safe, enjoyable and educational experience at a new, 40-acre urban park, Paradise Creek Nature Park,, in Portsmouth, VA.  The Urban Park Ranger will work for the non-profit Elizabeth River Project to grow pioneer volunteer, recreation and public education initiatives with the purpose of teaching all ages how to become environmental stewards of the urban Elizabeth River, better known as the Norfolk area port. In addition to leading public education and volunteer programs, the ranger will assist with school field trips as part of an education team. In partnership with the City of Portsmouth, which maintains and operates the site as a public park, the ranger also will coordinate efforts to ensure a safe and well-maintained park setting. Job includes safety patrols and light maintenance. Frequent weekends required. Flexible, full-time hours with benefits. Ideal candidate has a background and experience in outdoor recreation, landscaping, environmental sciences and public safety and is energized by working in an urban setting to mentor inner-city youth.    


  • Organize and help present public education and volunteer programs to raise environmental awareness through experiences ranging from art to science.
    • Emphasis on mentoring of at-risk youth from surrounding neighborhoods.
    • Resource interpretation such as nature hikes, bird walks.
    • Kayak paddles through an 11-acre restored wetlands
    • Summer camps  
  • Manage volunteers to carry out landscaping and other projects to enhance wildlife habitat and recreation amenities. Examples: Remove invasive plants, plant native plants, pick up litter. Plan, recruit, schedule, supervise and recognize volunteer efforts.
  • In cooperation with City of Portsmouth, patrol park to provide a friendly, welcoming presence to visitors while identifying and proactively addressing safety risks. Notify enforcement, medical response and other authorities as appropriate.
  • Notify and work with City of Portsmouth regarding safety needs relating to maintenance of park amenities. Provide facility management for an education building and other education amenities operated by Elizabeth River Project. Perform light maintenance as needed (can range from picking up trash to weeding and carrying out small handyman projects).
  • Assist with school field trips as part of a larger education team of Elizabeth River Project.
  • Conduct community outreach and relationship building to increase park usage and strengthen community support and involvement.
  • Other duties as assigned to support the education and restoration programs of the Elizabeth River Project.


  • Park ranger experience - one year minimum preferred. (Will consider recent graduate with park internship experience for extraordinary candidates.)
  • A bachelor’s degree or higher in outdoor recreation and leisure studies, with minor in environmental sciences or related.
  • Excellent public interaction skills. Pleasant, welcoming attitude.
  • Practical expertise in natural landscaping.
  • Experience and compatibility with safety patrols.
  • A strong understanding and commitment to environmental stewardship.
  • Experience and compatibility with volunteer management,
  • Kayak paddling competency - certification a big plus. Ability to lift, transport and paddle kayaks and conduct water rescues.
  • Ability to present environmental education and recreation activities in a compelling and engaging way for diverse audiences
  • Must pass a criminal background check 
  • Must be available for frequent weekends
  • Ability to work outdoors in all weather
  • First-aid training a plus
  • 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 a new program

SALARY AND BENEFITS - Full-time position, flexible hours, frequent weekends. Professional salary range of $14 to $22 hour depending on qualifications. Benefits include paid vacation (two to five weeks based on seniority with the company), all federal holidays paid, 13 personal leave days, employer cost-share of health insurance.  Mileage reimbursement for travel on the job.

REPORTS TO – Robin Dunbar, Deputy Director – Education; The Elizabeth River Project.

ABOUT ELIZABETH RIVER PROJECT - The Elizabeth River Project,, was incorporated in 1993 with a mission to restore the environmental health of the Elizabeth River through citizen, government and business partnerships. With a waterfront office in downtown Portsmouth, VA., we operate environmental restoration and education programs in four urban cities. Our annual budget of $3 million comes from memberships, private donors and grants. A full-time staff of 17 operates award-winning programs including:

  • The Learning Barge, winner of the national education award from AIA, powered by sun and wind with a live wetland nursery, books to capacity each year;
  • River Star Businesses program, launched in 1997, numbers 121 businesses who together have reduced pollution by more than 300 million pounds while restoring or conserving more than 1,100 acres of urban habitat;
  • River Star Schools program, started in 2004, recognizes 160 schools where students have conducted hands-on projects to reduce pollution and restore habitat.

MORE ON PARADISE CREEK NATURE PARK - The Elizabeth River Project and the City of Portsmouth opened this park to the public 2014. The park includes 29 acres of mature urban forest, under revitalization with native plants; 11 acres of restored wetlands, two miles of trails, “green” parking and a new River Academy with green building features, an enclosed all weather classroom and staff work stations (opening Spring 2018). Recreational amenities include a handicap accessible canoe and kayak launch and a maritime playground (summer 2018).

TO APPLY:  Send cover letter, resume and three professional references by email AND HARD COPY to Marjorie Mayfield Jackson,, Elizabeth River Project, 475 Water Street, C103A, Portsmouth, VA, 23704. No phone calls please.




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.