"The best thing about my job is that I come to work expecting the unexpected." So says Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park ranger Natasha Funke, who is responsible for managing the reserve's West Head area.
"A ranger's job is so diverse that you are always learning - not only about the environment and how to manage it, but about plants, animals, fire, cultural heritage, recreation and so much more."
Natasha's work is split into the following categories: Natural Heritage, Cultural Heritage, Pest Management, Recreational Management and Incident Management.
Natasha worked for a number of years developing a recovery plan for the endangered southern brown bandicoot. "Many early mornings were spent watching the sunrise in Ku-ring-gai Chase and Garigal national parks while conducting fauna surveys," she says. "I supervised staff and volunteers using Elliott traps, cage traps and hair tubes to trap and identify small mammals. When we trap a bandicoot we take body measurements and microchip them in order to identify the animal in the future - then they are then released back into the wild."
West Head contains many significant historic sites that need to be protected. Natasha works with indigenous groups such as the Metropolitan Aboriginal Land Council to manage Aboriginal heritage, and with local historians to protect heritage sites such as the Basin and the West Head Forts.
Pest management is another important role Natasha plays, managing valuable programs such as fox and rabbit control and bush regeneration within the park.
Natasha works with other rangers, field staff and volunteers to maintain the park's network of fire trails and walking tracks so the public can access and enjoy Ku-ring-gai Chase.
"I use my computer skills and specialised software to arrange track maintenance programs," Natasha says, "but I could be off the next moment with my trusty chainsaw to remove a fallen tree that is blocking a track."
Incident management plays a large role in Natasha's work as a ranger. "I must assist with fire management planning," she says, "get hot and dirty at hazard reduction burns, or winch out of a helicopter to help fight a wildfire."
Fitness is a must and all NPWS officers must complete a test before attending a fire.
"Whale, seal and dolphin monitoring and rescue is also a major role that I love," Natasha adds. "It sure beats rescuing a snake from the toilets!"
"So as you can see my job is varied and diverse, and I work with some fantastic people in some very special areas," Natasha concludes. "I can safely say I love my job!"
Read more about Natasha on the ABC's Ace Day Jobs website.