Concordia University Texas is nestled on 440 acres in Northwest Austin. The Concordia Rangers are paid student workers who help the Office of Environmental Stewardship monitor and manage activities related to the beautiful campus, including its 250-acre Concordia Preserve.
John Hocher is the newest Concordia Ranger to join the team. Graduating in 2022 with a degree in Environmental Science & Conservation, Hocher is excited for the life-changing opportunities he will experience as a Concordia Ranger.
CTX Was a Natural Fit
When searching for schools, Hocher discovered that Concordia has an on-campus nature preserve. This was the driving factor that led him to attend CTX.
He immediately began enjoying the natural setting. As a freshman living on campus, he regularly utilized Tornado Trail, a 1.5-mile trail on campus that's open to the public.
Joining the Concordia Rangers
Hocher first learned about the Concordia Rangers program his freshman year when Zach Stark, the director of Environmental Stewardship, shared all about the University's commitment to protecting the campus and its incredible natural resources.
Last semester, Hocher began looking into the program to learn more about the responsibilities of a Concordia Ranger. He reached out to Stark to apply for the job.
"John is a good communicator. He was persistent in following up with me, which is what I look for in rangers," Stark said. "I hire students who really want the job and are eager to learn."
Having used Tornado Trail when living on campus, Hocher is passionate about protecting it. "A big part of my motivation to become a Concordia Ranger was my passion for Tornado Trail," he said. "There's value in Tornado Trail, and the resource is a big asset to the community."
He has conducted extensive research around the value of Tornado Trail to CTX and the greater community. A member of the Honors Program, Hocher joined other Honors students to talk with Concordia's president about the importance of the trail. He is also working with his professor, Dr. Sam Whitehead, to continue to communicate the trail's value to CTX.
Concordia Ranger Fieldwork
A majority of the work Concordia Rangers do consists of hands-on tasks. Hocher looks forward to beginning fieldwork.
"This work is therapeutic for me," Hocher said. "School can be stressful; there are a lot of pressures. Being able to work in nature is helpful, especially since I enjoy being in nature. It’s where I like to relax and study. To dedicate time to something outdoors is amazing.”
Stark customizes each Concordia Ranger's experience based on their interests. Because Hocher has a passion for Tornado Trail, he will assist with the ongoing projects on the preserve trails and Tornado Trail, and he will complete tasks to learn more about land restoration.
Another benefit of the program is that Concordia Rangers work with one another on various projects. "In addition to providing a safe working environment, it also allows the rangers to learn from each other," Stark said. "Building teams and camaraderie is important."
Environmental Science Career
Hocher's role as a Concordia Ranger will help prepare him for his career. He wants to begin his career working for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and then plans to launch a nonprofit that works to restore land to its natural habitat.
"I’m very much on the side of preservation as opposed to conservation," Hocher said. "There is a difference. Conservation is using resources wisely, while preservation is protecting resources.”
“It’s not every day you meet a college student who has these ideas about big topics in conservation and preservation," Stark explained. "That’s what makes Concordia different: the leadership of our students. John is a great example of that.”
Become a Concordia Ranger
Hocher encourages other CTX students to apply to the Concordia Rangers Program. "One, it's a great experience; it's good for your resume," he said. "Two, you get paid. Three, you get to spend time in nature."
All CTX students are invited to apply to the Concordia Rangers program. Through this paid student-worker role, you will gain valuable hands-on experience in the field without having to leave campus.
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