Joshua Contois

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About Joshua Contois

Joshua Contois with visitors at Desert National Wildlife Refuge.

Josh Contois has been a ranger (also known as refuge ranger or visitor services specialist) with the National Wildlife Refuge System since early 2019. He began with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Nevada and is now the supervisory park ranger (also known as visitor services manager) at Inland Northwest Complex in Washington and Idaho. He has worked in public lands and science education for more than a decade. Josh began as an intern in 2012 at Rock Creek Park, in Washington, DC, where he designed media exhibits, presented live animal exhibitions and guided visitors. Since then, he has been a ranger at Statue of Liberty National Monument in New York, Redwood National and State Parks in California and Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina. He also was volunteer coordinator at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History.

What he loves about the job:
“The variety of the work. Some days, I may be recruiting or training volunteers, running a visitor center or presenting public programming. Other days, I might be designing brochures and signs or writing press releases or social media content. Some of the best days, though, are when I can be in the field patrolling miles of unpaved backcountry roads, assisting with wildlife surveys or interacting with wildlife.”

What’s most interesting about it:
“The diversity of opportunities and experiences I’ve had. No two days are the same, which keeps things exciting.”

What’s most challenging about it:
“With so many different tasks on my plate, it is challenging to prioritize projects and commitments. I love the variety of my work, but with everything that needs to get done, it feels at times that there is never enough time to accomplish it all.”

What’s most rewarding about it:
“The people I interact with — from the public to conservation partners to coworkers. My best days are when I am able to build a connection between a person and their public lands. It's truly rewarding to see someone experience these protected places in a new or different way.” 

Skills necessary to succeed at it:
“You need to have outstanding communication skills — both oral and written. Beyond that, having a passion for learning and willingness to try new things will allow you to adapt and grow.”

What conservation means to him:
“Conservation is a process that goes beyond simply setting aside land or habitat restoration. It is about creating a public awareness and investment in natural spaces. The why is just as important as the how." 

Animal he identifies with:
“Bison, because I can be independent and stubborn at times, and glad to be part of a team at others.” 

To find available ranger or visitor services specialist jobs, go to Search “0025” and/or “park ranger.” Filter by “U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service” or “Department of the Interior.” The job generally requires a bachelor's degree, including major study or significant coursework in natural resources, history, public administration, the social sciences or a range of other relevant fields. Details about education and experience requirements.

Additional roles
Visitor Services Manager
Volunteer Coordinator
Visual Information Specialist
Social Media Manager
Public Information Officer
Areas of expertise
Environmental Education
Graphic Design
Digital & Social Media

From The Library

Turnbull NWR - Hunt Regulations (508)

Web-friendly hunt brochure for Turnbull NWR. 

Desert NWR - Bird Education Worksheet (508)

Worksheet to begin learning birding basics. 

Turnbull NWR - Request for Proposals for Environmental Education Development (508)

Document containing a Request for Proposal, Scope of Work, and lesson plan template.

Desert NWR - Water Cycle Worksheet (508)

Worksheet about the water cycle.

Desert NWR - Habitats and Adaptations Leader Guide (508)

This program was designed for Scouts to be able to earn their patches, but it can be used with any age-appropriate group. 

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