DAYTON — The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Parks and Watercraft is looking to hire.
Across Ohio, it employs more than 700 permanent full- and part-time staff and hires more than 700 seasonal staff each year, according to Lori Jennings, assistant park manager for ODNR’s Division of Parks and Watercraft
There are 75 state parks in 59 counties in Ohio, Jennings said. Each park is different, but all offer unique places for a huge variety of outdoor recreation like hiking, camping, fishing, kayaking, biking, bird watching and more, she said.
“Outdoor recreation is year-round in Ohio, but many of our parks see an influx of boaters, visitors and overnight stays as the weather breaks, school lets out for summer, and vacations start to ramp up,” Jennings said. “Additional staff helps to better serve our customers.”
We asked Jennings about the challenges ODNR faces in hiring staff. Here’s what she said:
Q: What’s the biggest challenge Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Parks and Watercraft face and how is it uniquely positioned to address that challenge?
A: “People have limited leisure or discretionary time, we want them to choose to spend that time outdoors. Ohio’s State Parks provide not only a variety of overnight options, from primitive camping to deluxe cabins and lodges, but unique activities like educational programming from naturalists, skill-building classes, and fun family-friendly events. We’ve recently made significant investments in park amenities and infrastructure, which has increased visitation. Increased park use is great for people and local communities.”
Q: What’s the most prevalent roadblock you’ve encountered when it comes to hiring and what can job seekers do to remedy that situation?
A: “We’re looking for people who are passionate about the mission of outdoor recreation and connecting with people. We’re focused on customer service, so applicants for every position from maintenance staff to store clerks need to be prepared to interact with visitors to provide them a positive, memorable experience.”
Q: What’s the vision for Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Parks and Watercraft’s growth, both jobs and otherwise, for the next five years?
A: “We hope to continue to invest in infrastructure improvements and amenity upgrades. We also plan to invest in our workforce. We can’t have successful parks without good people! We’re paying close attention to customer feedback and what visitors want, that will strongly influence our future direction.”
Q: Some job seekers are concerned about the limits of advancement. To what degree can your employees advance from entry-level roles to become team leaders and department managers?
A: “Many of our managers and senior staff started their ODNR careers as seasonal employees! We pay close attention to our seasonal staff for potential advancement. Flexibility is key — employees need to be willing to jump into whatever project comes their way.”