California State Park Rangers
Harriett E. "Petey' Weaver was the first woman ranger in the Division of Parks, which later became the California Department of Parks and Recreation. Her memoirs were published in April 1991 by the California State Park Rangers Association as "The 125th Ranger Anniversary Special Edition-Them Were The Days!", edited by Mike Lynch. She worked summers from 1929 to 1950, serving at Big Basin, Big Sur, Richardson Grove and Seacliff State Beach. The next seasonal or intermittent woman rangers were hired in 1969.
Petey Weaver was one of the most people-oriented and best-liked rangers ever to work in California's state parks. She was quite adept at guided nature walks (including nighttime "coffee hikes"), creating her own illustrations and drawings. She was also an enthusiastic song leader-a very important activity at Big Basin in the 1930s before the interpretive campfire programs became more seriously focused on environmental education.
With the end of World War II and the need to accommodate the return of troops from the battlefield into the American workforce, women were prohibited from becoming permanent, full-time rangers. California State Park Ranger minimum qualifications included the necessity of being a male, in addition to eyesight and other physical fitness standards.
That gender barrier was broken in 1972 when Paula (Jones)Peterson successfully applied, tested, and passed the State Park Ranger Trainee Program that, while eliminating gender as a minimum qualification, had significantly increased educational standards. Paula began her career in Big Basin Redwoods State Park as a Ranger Trainee, continually overcoming stereotypes that for several years hung on to women in careers such as police and park rangers. Her first uniform was modified male clothing since no women's uniform items existed.
Paula Peterson went on to become an outstanding and highly respected California State Park ranger, and a role model for new employees. One of her assignments included the William Penn Mott, Jr. training center, where she coordinated and trained new rangers in law enforcement and numerous other profession duties. Paula currently serves as the Chief Ranger for the Monterey District.