Experiences Key to a Career

A picture of a man with a green shirt standing in Dordt's prairie

Steve Nugteren (’11) first gained an appreciation for the outdoors when he was a child; he helped his parents maintain a prairie that was located behind his school in Pella, Iowa. After spending his first year at Dordt studying history and education, Nugteren took a few classes at a community college, one of which was an environmental science class. At that point, he realized he needed to consider switching career paths. After graduating from Dordt in December 2011 with a degree in environmental science, Nugteren worked in several positions that eventually led to his current position as a park ranger for Boone County Conservation Board in Madrid, Iowa.

“I think my Dordt education gave me a good foundation on the knowledge part of my job, as far as the natural resource management that I do,” said Nugteren. “Also, as part of my Dordt coursework, I had to get an internship to gain hands-on experience in my field. This was really crucial in my career, and it was the first stepping stone of many that got me to where I am today, because what I’ve found out is experience is so key in getting a full time job.”

Today, Nugteren’s work as a park ranger involves a multitude of tasks, which is one of the things he likes about his position.

“I really love my job because I do so many different things,” said Nugteren. “Honestly, I don’t really have a typical day, because almost every day is different. Simply put, I help maintain parks, wildlife areas, and trails. Some of the more detailed work that I do is that I’m a certified law enforcement officer, so in the summer time I patrol campgrounds and trails and wildlife areas, and then also strategize and implement natural resource management projects.”

In addition to having the opportunity to work on various projects such as management plans, park improvement plans, and controlled burns, Nugteren has worked with a variety of people including park users, seasonal workers, and groups like Pheasants Forever.

“I would say I’m probably only five to ten percent administrative work,” said Nugteren. “Then basically outdoors working with my hands the rest of the time. I’d say about twenty to twenty-five percent of my job is law enforcement, which happens mostly just in the summertime.”