Female DEC forest ranger excited about adding more women to force

Nancy Ganswindt has wanted to be a DEC forest ranger since she was a teenager, and got a chance to talk with some rangers.

“They talked about the searches and rescues that they did, and I always knew that I wanted to be somebody that people looked to when they were in need,” said Ganswindt.

She still remembers getting the letter in the mail inviting her to take a physical fitness test. She passed, and now the shoreline of Lake George at Shelving Rock Road is part of Ganswindt’s patrol area. However, she does a lot more than patrol.

“When there’s something that needs to be done, we’re called upon quite often, and I’m very confident in the skills that we have that we can pull off rescues and searches and situations that not a lot of other people can do,” said Ganswindt.

Sadly, some of those rescues turn into recoveries, yet she feels even then, she’s helping the families.

“A lot of times, we are able to bring closure to families that maybe a family member or loved one is missing, whether it was by choice or by accident. So we can either bring them home, or at least give the family closure on what happened,” said Ganswindt.

Forest rangers also fight fires, and the lieutenant has traveled as far as California to do so.

With about 19% of the force female, DEC has pledged to add more women and raise that number to 30% by 2030. Ganswindt thinks this goal is a great idea. 

“It’s a great job in general, and I think that as a female, the more diverse any organization is, is going to benefit them, because every sort of background brings something to the table,” said Ganswindt.