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2010 Park Ranger/Visitor Safety Survey

    Survey is now closed – extended deadline was 12 September 2010

  • Informational Copy of 2010 Corps of Engineers Park Ranger/Visitor Safety Survey
    An informational copy of the survey instrument is provided at the link below -- the survey is now closed. This version does not appear exactly as did in the web version that respondents saw, since the transfer to PDF changed some formatting and the math functionality is not in place. However, it is the same survey wording as seen by those who took it.

    FAQs - Updated 7 September 2010
    Q1. What was the primary purpose of this survey?
    A1. The primary purpose of this survey was to collect park ranger and manager experiences and opinions regarding the visitor assistance program, equipment, training, patrol and trends so that we can better understand and improve employee, visitor and resource safety and security at Corps projects. The survey directly asked for suggestions on how to improve in all these areas and input on the effectiveness of all the required equipment, training, tools and procedures that resulted from the recommendations in the 1995 Visitor and Ranger Safety Final Report.

    Q2. Who authorized this survey?
    A2. Michael G. Ensch, Chief of Operations in Headquarters, authorized the survey. The Headquarters announcements that authorized the survey and encouraged participation may be viewed on the NRM Gateway:

  • Corps Park Ranger/Visitor Safety Survey Deadline Has Been Extended To 12 September
  • Park Ranger/Visitor Safety Survey: Suspense 3 September 2010 (18 August 2010)
  • Park Ranger/Visitor Safety Survey (10 August 2010)

    Q3. Who sponsored the survey?
    A3. The Park Ranger Community of Practice (CoP) Advisory Board, whose plan for FY10 included conducting a comprehensive on-line Park Ranger/Visitor Safety Survey with all park rangers and managers having Visitor Assistance responsibilities.

    Q4. Who developed and administered the survey?
    A4. Dr. Charles Nelson, Michigan State University (MSU), developed the on-line survey (with input from the Corps and other resources) and is responsible for survey distribution, collection, analysis and providing a report of findings to the Advisory Board and CECW-CO. We collaborated with Dr. Nelson because of his experience and success administering surveys to other natural resources agencies and we also wanted an independent view during the development of our survey and analysis of the results. Dr. Nelson has been involved in survey research for the past 30 years including visitor assistance and security. He directed the MSU Park Law Enforcement and Ranger Institute field employee training program for 17 years and has recently evaluated visitor and resource security programs for the Wisconsin and Montana state parks agencies.

    Q5. What were the dates of the survey?
    A5. Survey distribution began on Friday, 20 August 2010. The initial submission deadline of 3 September was extended to the close of business on Sunday, 12 September 2010. A handful of surveys came in after the deadline and were included up to the point when the survey was formally deactivated on the Michigan State University server at 8:00 pm EDT on Tuesday, 14 September 2010.

    Q6. Who was surveyed?
    A6. All park rangers and managers having Visitor Assistance responsibilities.

    Q7. Did this include temporary employees?
    A7. Yes. We wanted to capture the opinions and experiences of all summer temporary rangers that we could reach. None of the temporary rangers were to be excluded from the mailing list because they did not have citation authority--they wear the uniform and interact with visitors in some shape, form or fashion--which is considered visitor assistance.

    Q8. How was the initial mailing list pulled together?
    A8. The email list was compiled by ERDC with input from each Corps district to identify positions that should receive the survey. In conjunction with the Staffing Study that is part of the Recreation Road Map initiative, reports from the personnel database to which we have access (the Integrated Manning Document) received a district-level review for accuracy. Besides the Staffing Study, we used this review for each district to check which positions were occupied by current OPM, Park Manager, and Park Ranger staff. The primary reason for that level of detail for these positions was to generate the mailing list for this survey.

    Q9. Wasn’t there a simpler way to get the initial mailing list? Why didn’t you just send to everyone in the IMD (HR) list in the 0401 and 0025 occupational categories with “Ranger” or “Manager” in their job title?
    A9. Our preliminary look at the database revealed 91 variations of job titles that could fit the population to be surveyed. Since there was no standardization, we chose to get each district to review and designate which positions fit the criteria of current OPMs, NRM/Park Managers, and Park Rangers. We believe this provided the most accurate list, and prevented us from sending surveys to persons in the 0401 series who work in other Corps elements besides NRM, and therefore do not have VA responsibilities.

    Q10. How was the survey invitation emailed?
    A10. The email came from Dr. Charles Nelson, Michigan State University. Subjects were advised in a follow up email from Dr. Bonnie F. Bryson of ERDC that if they did not receive the email from Dr. Nelson, to please check to see if it may have gone to a "junk email" box, just in case a filter was set that would not allow Dr. Nelson's email to go directly to their Inbox. They were also advised to check any “Deleted” messages folder before reporting that a survey was not received.

    Q11. What about temporary employees’ mailing addresses?
    A11. Many temporary employees had Outlook addresses and were still on duty during the survey response period, and in those cases surveys were sent to their Corps email address. However, some temporary park rangers may not have been issued a CAC and therefore did not have access to a computer at work, plus others would be leaving (or had already left for the season) before the survey was distributed. Mike Ench’s memorandum recommended that immediate supervisors inform temporary park rangers in those above circumstances of the upcoming on-line survey and offer them an opportunity to provide an alternate email address to receive the survey invitation. The supervisor had to forward the full name of each individual (last name, first name) and their alternate email address to the survey team (via Outlook message to by 13 August 2010 to be included in the initial survey distribution. This was a strictly voluntary option, and offered only to temporary employees [and students in the SCEP (Co-op)] program without access to a Corps computer during the survey period.

    Q12. Were there any changes made to the initial mailing list while the survey was underway?
    A12. Yes, absolutely. Every effort was made during the response period to get surveys to everyone who met the criteria of being “park rangers and managers having Visitor Assistance responsibilities.” Supervisors of persons who should have received the survey but did not were instructed to notify the survey team via Outlook message to . Every time we heard from a supervisor or individual that an eligible person had not received their survey, their eligibility was confirmed and a survey invitation sent them. We also sent the list of their district’s survey recipients back to the each district’s POC (the ones who had reviewed the initial staffing study file to identify current OPM, Park Manager, and Park Ranger positions) so that they could confirm that the list was complete. Numerous additional survey recipients were added through this process. Additionally, every “non-delivery notification” received through Outlook from the survey announcement emails was followed up to correct email issues that were preventing receipt of the survey invitation.

    Q13. Could subjects just forward their emailed invitation to someone who did not get the survey?
    A13. No. Each survey invitation is sent to an individual email address and could only be used once.

    Q14. What about persons who should get the survey but did not have access to email, either at work or personally?
    A14. Supervisors of persons who should have received the survey but had no access to an email account to receive and respond to the survey were instructed to email (via Outlook message to or call Bonnie F. Bryson at 304-633-0594 to work out other arrangements. Hard copy surveys were requested for fewer than 10 individuals.

    Q15. Not everyone got their survey invitation on the first day. Why?
    A15. We sent the largest batch including most of the permanent employees on Friday, 20 August. Since the HQ memorandum gave field until COB 20 August to get alternate emails to us, we had to wait until Monday, 23 August to send to the smaller batch of the remaining employees including temporaries, to insure we did not end up having to send duplicates (that is, we did not want to send initially to a Corps email address, then follow up to an alternate email if provided late on the 20th).

    Q16. Why did some managers get a shorter version of the survey?
    A16. Besides Park Rangers, the survey was distributed to all NRM/Park Managers and OPMs. Some are more heavily involved in Visitor Assistance (VA) than others. The survey released those less involved in on-the-ground VA from the survey after a few questions. This was by design -- this survey was for those actively involved in VA out on the project. We did not want to miss hearing from any managers who are still actively patrolling the projects on their experiences in the field. For those who manage others who perform VA and/or are otherwise involved in administering the VA program, such as managers and outdoor recreation planners, etc., we will be using an additional feedback mechanism to hear about the VA program from their experience and perspective.

    Q17. When I tried to take my survey, the opening screen came up but I could not move forward. Why not?
    A17. Arrows to take you forward and backward between questions were located in the bottom right corner of the survey screen. If they were not visible on your current view settings, you could find them by scrolling down. If you wanted them to be visible automatically you could choose to adjust the view on your computer screen by (in Internet Explorer) clicking on “Page” in the upper toolbar and then clicking on “Zoom” in the dropdown menu.

    Q18. Why the limited 12 month time frame reference on the questions about what has been experienced in the field?
    A18. This answer was provided by Dr. Charles Nelson, Michigan State University (MSU), who developed the on-line survey (with input from the Corps and other resources). “The reason for the 12-month time frame in some questions (13, 14, 15, 31-39, 53, 54a, 60, 63, 64) is that we are trying to gain a comparable assessment of conditions and situations across the Corps over the previous 12 months. It is likely these survey questions will be used again and we will indeed look to see if there is change so we can track trends. Having such a baseline is a critical part of evaluating the effectiveness of management changes that may take place as a result of this study. You will also note in questions that ask for your direct suggestions to improve situations/practices/procedures/training/equipment, etc. we do not have time constraints (e.g. 7, 16d, 17d, 18c, 21d, 21e, 47, 51, 52d, 53b, 73 and 74). In these open ended questions we provided the maximum flexibility for respondents to suggest improvements. This entails considerably more work to code and analyze, but the flexibility it gives respondents to put their best thinking forward is worth it as we get the highest quality suggestions.”

    Q19. I was not eligible to take the survey but would like to see the questions that were asked. When will that be available?
    A19. An informational copy of the survey has been posted (see link at the top of this web page).

    Q20. When and where will we see results of the survey?
    A20. The results are anticipated in mid-2011. They will be posted on the NRM Gateway as soon as possible.