Frances Reneau draws on her experience as ranger for MPOSD in her first book, Rangerchick

by Linda Hubbard on April 21, 2015

When Menlo Park resident Frances Reneau graduated from Stanford with a degree in Germanic Linguistics, she viewed herself as a studious and academic person. That translated into some indoor pursuit, which for her was initially classroom teaching and then teaching ESL.

Now after 15 years as a Ranger for the MidPeninsula Open Space District, she looks back at the notion that working out of doors was neither academic or intellectual as misguided. “But it took me a while to turn the corner,” she said with a sigh.

“About half the Rangers I work with knew they wanted to be Rangers from the time they were in high school. Others came to it like me, as an avocation turned vocation. I grew up with an outdoorsy family, hiking and backpacking.”

Frances explains her duties as a “generalist Ranger,” a mix of law enforcement, emergency medicine, fire fighting, and light maintenance.

“Most days I drive up to Skyline, change into my uniform, check out my truck and go on patrol,” she said. “I can chose which of the 22 preserves I want to patrol, be in a truck or by foot or bicycle.

Over the years on the job, she’s kept a kind of journal, which now makes up a stack of lined notepads. Some years back, she took a look at her accumulated writings and realized she either needed to put the notepads into recycling — or do something with them. She chose the latter and turned them into arecently published book Rangerchick.

“The fun part was revisiting the stories,” she said. “And creating the story arcs. I think that in order to be a good teacher or good ranger, you have to be a little bit of a story teller. To have a sense of the punch line.

“That’s what I hope I’ve done. Drawn all my experiences and observations  together and put a little zinger at the end!”

Photo by Irene Searle

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