Women’s History Month: Urban Park Rangers Highlight Accomplishments of Women in Conservation

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Crux, Inspiration, Media, Parks Department, Pope Francis, Queens, NY, Staten Island, World News

By Jessica Easthope

“Let us be protectors of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature.”

Pope Francis said that during his second encyclical, Laudato Si’. On Staten Island, the protectors of nature are fierce.

“We are special patrolmen, and so we are able to make arrests,” said Jenna Levendosky and Irena Werner, Urban Park Rangers.

The rangers are responsible for keeping people and wildlife safe in New York City’s parks.

“If someone sees an animal that might be injured we will come out, assess the situation and then transport that animal to a wildlife rehabilitator or an animal care center so it can get the medical attention it needs,” Ranger Irena said.

Rangers Jenna and Irena say the fight for representation in wildlife conservation has been an uphill battle. But in New York City, women are making great strides. Right now women make up 47 percent of Urban Park Rangers.

The rangers say women who have broken ground in wildlife conservation in the past inspire their passions. Rachel Carson was a conservationist whose research on pesticides like DDT helped launch the Environmental Protection Agency.

“That’s one way to tie it to this park. This park was a Super Fund site and that’s done through the EPA, so because of her the EPA and this park were possible,” said Ranger Irena.

Ranger Jenna says she’s been inspired by Rosalie Barrow-Edge, a suffragist who became an advocate for species preservation and studying birds in their habitats instead of killing them.

“If she had the boldness to stand up for women’s rights at that time, she had no problem standing up for conservation and wildlife,” said Ranger Jenna.

Pope Francis’ emphasis on the environment has brought preservation issues and climate change to the surface. Brookfield Park on Staten Island was once a landfill, but now it’s a sanctuary.

“In the last four years that it’s been open we’ve seen a large amount of animals coming back, plant life as well,” said Ranger Irena.

As the Church has made the environment a priority, new generations of women in wildlife conservation have their futures mapped out by those who came before them. It’s up to them to take flight.