Actress and internet-sensation Betty White passed away last week at 99. Though we doubt she has many regrets about her long life well-lived, we thought it worth mentioning her original career goal was to be a park ranger. She grew up taking trips to the Sierra and fell deeply in love with the mountains. But when she was young and looking for work, the feds did’t allow women to be rangers. So she turned to writing and acting, and off she went.
In 2010, the U.S. Forest Service made her an honorary forest ranger.
“I am sorry you couldn’t join us before,” said USFS Chief Tom Tidwell at the time. “Judging from your illustrious career, you would have made marvelous contributions to our agency and to the cause of conservation across the United States,” he said. “Betty, you are a role model for little girls—for all of us —never to give up on our dreams.”
At the ceremony, White said, “My first memories are riding in front of my dad on his horse as we packed into the High Sierra. And we’d go in there for three weeks and never see another two-legged soul other than birds, in our lives. And then we’d come back and I’d live all the next year waiting for our next trip into the wildness. Wilderness is harder and harder to find these days on this beautiful planet.
“Whether I’ve been a legitimate forest ranger or not, I’ve been working for the cause for the last 89 years,” she said, adding, “I know this is an honorary position but it’s also one where I can use a voice try to protect the remaining beautiful parts of this gorgeous world we live on.”
Photo by Department of Agriculture