Scientist Profile: Sally Hurlbert

Looking out on the Big Meadow in Shenandoah National Park, it’s not hard to understand what drew Sally Hurlbert to her job here and also what has kept her here for a number of years. Sally is a Park Ranger in Shenandoah National Park, a job that allows her to combine her deep love of the natural world with a talent for sharing her knowledge with others. Her work as an outdoor educator allows Sally to teach people about the natural resources of the park. This allows her to explore many different disciplines of science like wildlife biology, botany, aquatic biology and chemistry, and geology.

There is a lot to love about being a Park Ranger including being outdoors and seeing awesome wildlife daily. Sally gets to experience the beauty and majesty of Shenandoah National Park daily and share that with visitors from all over the world. But Sally’s ability to share the stories of her park originates in a deep understanding of how things in nature work and how they relate to each other.

Sally’s pathway to a career in science started as a college freshman with an introductory course in Oceanography, which was taught through the Geology Department. She enjoyed that first course so much that she immediately enrolled in an additional Geology course and, “fell in love with studying the Earth.” She is a career Geologist with a Bachelor of Science Degree from Stanford University and a Master of Science Degree from Oregon State University.

Sally’s advice to anyone interested in a career as a National Park Ranger is to gain as much experience as you can while in school, including post-secondary education with internships in the summertime at a National Park. She advises that students can apply for internships through the Student Conservation Association ( or through the GeoCorps Internship program offered by the Geological Society of America ( Park Rangers have degrees in many different subjects such as biology, geology, history, and environmental science so find what you love to do and get as many different experiences as you can!