In Celebration of Women’s History Month, Park Rangers Share Their Stories

During Women’s History Month, the National Park Service (NPS) celebrates a tradition of service and leadership that continues today in many NPS fields, including natural and cultural resource management, law enforcement, interpretation, administration, and much more. In honor of women’s history, several national park rangers from Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area shared their insights about their roles and responsibilities, and provided advice for future generations of scientists.

KATY DELANEY, wildlife ecologist 

For many years, I have monitored reptile and amphibian population​s in the Santa Monica Mountains. This work has led our park to recognize the need for preserving and restoring stream habitat and biodiversity. I started a project to reintroduce the federally threatened California red-legged frog to these mountains to achieve those goals. The work is ongoing, and despite many challenges, we’ve experienced a measure of real success. My job is important because I’m trying to restore and preserve biodiversity in a highly fragmented city landscape.

A woman sitting in front of two computer


A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a computer-based system used to store, manage, analyze, and display geographically referenced information—basically anything you can put on a map. In my job, I use GIS to examine spatial relationships and changes both between data layers and over time. For example, do bobcats favor one type of habitat over others or how has the distribution of coastal sage scrub changed? Another vital part of my position is keeping all of our scientific and park data organized and accessible, and ensuring it gets used. I’ve always loved maps. What could be better than an NPS job working with maps all day?



KATIE MCDANIEL, bobcat intern

I research bobcat movement throughout the park using cameras, collars, and radio telemetry. My position helps in answering important questions that we have about bobcat behavior in urban environments. The more information scientists have, the better they can make decisions that aid in the conservation of this species.

My advice to other women and girls in science is to stay authentic in pursuing what you find exciting and important. Don’t worry if your colleagues don’t always look or think the way you do. Science is more robust when all perspectives, experiences, and differences are considered. Also, science—especially natural resources—is fun!



I work on one of the longest bobcat studies ever. My research works to identify and understand challenges that urban carnivores face as they navigate and persist in complex, developed, and fragmented habitats. For almost 20 years, I’ve used VHF radio and GPS telemetry to study and track hundreds of bobcats in our region. I capture and sedate the bobcats, affix radio collars, record measurements and take blood and tissue samples for analysis. I also set up remote cameras and do scat surveys to learn more about the local bobcat population. My advice to those pursuing the career of their dreams? Luck comes to those who are prepared. Always be the most prepared one in the room.


ANNIE STEVENS, mountain lion technician

I do fieldwork related to our mountain lion research. I help collar, tag and collect blood, tissue and other biological samples from these fascinating animals. Recently, we captured P-95, the 95th mountain lion in our study! I feel lucky to help conduct research that is used to influence mountain lion conservation. My advice to other burgeoning scientists? What you lack in experience, make up with effort.


SARAH WENNER, biological technician

I work on the California red-legged frog reintroduction project, which aims to establish self-sustaining populations in the Santa Monica Mountains where the frogs were once abundant. To accomplish this, I assist with translocations from a nearby source population and perform regular monitoring of the sites to estimate persistence throughout the year. I consider this work important because it promotes conservation of natural resources and biodiversity in our park. My advice to my fellow scientists is to take every step with intention and always seek out new perspectives.

This building is Monroe Elementary School which serves as the Brown v. Board of Education Visitor Center.
It was one of four segregated schools for African American children in the city of Topeka, during the time of the Brown v. Board of Education court case. (Courtesy of Fatimah Purvis, NPS.)

During the month of February, in celebration of Black History Month, Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site is overflowing with ranger led discussions, distance learning programs, and more!

As a civil rights site, our primary goal is to preserve, protect, and interpret the places that contributed to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that brought an end to segregation in public education. Thought provoking audience centered questions are posed to visitors as they navigate through the site. Examples of these questions are: “Would you put your child on the front lines of integration? If so, how would you prepare your child?”

One of four dolls used in the experiment conducted by psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark that would later be used in Brown v. Board of Education on display in a glass case in front a photo of Elizabeth Eckford, being verbally attacked by an angry mob, outside of Little Rock Central High School in 1957.
Image of Elizabeth Eckford, being verbally attacked by an angry mob, outside of Little Rock Central High School in 1957. (Courtesy of Fatimah Purvis, NPS.)

One of the most unique and important artifacts on display at Brown v. Board is one of the dolls that was used in the Kenneth and Mamie Clark doll study. The results of the test showed that a majority of the Black children preferred the White dolls to the Black dolls. To the Clarks, these tests provided solid proof that segregation stamped African American children with a badge of inferiority that would last for the rest of their lives. The argument swayed the U.S. Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren, in writing the Court’s opinion, noted that the legal separation of Black children gave them, “a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely to ever be undone.” On May 17, 1954, Chief Justice Earl Warren stated, “We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” The decision dismantled the legal framework for racial segregation in public schools and Jim Crow laws, which limited the rights of African Americans, particularly in the South.

This doll was one of four dolls used in the experiment conducted by psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark
that would later be used in Brown v. Board of Education. (Courtesy of Fatimah Purvis, NPS.)

At Brown v. Board of Education NHS, visitors can learn more about how education became the path to freedom, the negative effects that the Separate but Equal doctrine had on people of color throughout the U.S., the 5 consolidated cases that are known as Oliver Brown, et. al. v. the Board of Education of Topeka, et. al., how the Brown decision paved the way for the Modern Civil Rights Movement, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and more!

In the vestibule of the Brown v. Board of Education Visitor Center, two signs, White and Colored, are suspended from the ceiling.
Signs such as these would have been seen throughout segregated towns during the time of legalized segregation, in parts of the United States.
*Note: The signs are not original to the building. (Courtesy of Fatimah Purvis, NPS.)

Research materials and programs would not be possible without the support provided by WNPA through their park store sales. Portions of the proceeds from all sales from our park store go towards workshops, interpretive programs, Junior Ranger materials, and more!

By: Fatimah Purvis, Park Guide, Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site and Preston Webb, Park Ranger, Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site