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Ranger John visits
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John Huth, park ranger at the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, visited all seven second grade classrooms at Ficquett Elementary on Wednesday and Thursday to explain to the students what he does as a ranger.

Huth described a park ranger as a "jack of all trades and a master of none."

"This is basically a good park ranger about 100 years ago," Huth said. "One thing we would have to do now is say 'Jack and Jill of all trades' - 100 years ago you wouldn't see any female park rangers."

As a protection officer at the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, Huth said he has three main jobs - to safeguard the natural area from damage, to guard humans from dangerous animals and shield animals from human harm.

He explained the consequences of littering in a park area.

"It's important if you're out, that you clean up - even if you're not going to be there the next day," Huth said.

Food left out at campgrounds and picnic areas attracts bears, he said. If a bear wanders into a picnic area, rangers are responsible for humanely trapping the bear and releasing it in the back country.

If a bear becomes "too friendly" by consistently entering picnic areas, rangers have to put the bear down.

"And the reason is, too many people feed them with stuff they leave out," Huth said.

Park rangers also protect animals from harm by enforcing fishing and hunting restrictions within the park.

Huth explained how park rangers help battle forest fires, including the ones that plagued the lower half of the state this summer.

"I would take my shovel and dig a trench to keep the fire from going forward or take it and beat out the flames," Huth said.

Not every aspect of Huth's job is as glamorous as trapping bears and putting out forest fires though. He showed the students the utensils he used when he had to clean out portable toilets.

None of the students said they would enjoy fishing out rocks or other solids from the tank.

"That was probably the worst job I ever had as a park ranger, but it's a typical job of a park ranger - if not the grossest," Huth said.

Huth listed other types of park employees such as biologists, botanists and historians as well as other kinds of national recreation areas. Before he worked at the Chattahoochee recreation area, he worked in the Virgin Islands protecting coral reefs and at the birth place of Martin Luther King Jr. as a historical interpreter.

Before he left he gave students a "My Fall Leaf Collection" journal, which allows them to color how certain leaves look at different dates over the next few weeks. He also gave them a recreation area map and showed them how to read certain symbols such as picnic area and rapids.

Huth's annual visit is part of the second grade reading curriculum which focuses on the elements of the outdoors.