This paper considers the role of rangers and education officers who present and represent their park on school trips to national parks, and their interactions with teachers who organise those trips. These shared encounters are commonplace events. They have an important potential and actual role in environmental education, but have not been the subject of much research. Both the teachers' environmental education objectives and the possibilities offered by parks are wide: nature study, ecology, parks as natural and cultural heritage, land management and community issues, recreational activities and their consequences. However this breadth of potential activity possibly exacerbates a gap between the two cultures that meet on such encounters, a gap that needs to be addressed if the participants are to be able to maximise their shared and separate concerns.
Using semi-structured interviews, our research looked at the strengths and limitations of several school visits for both teachers and ranger. In this paper we report particularly on the importance of the ranger in the process. We suggest that the role of the ranger is an undervalued and under-supported link in effective environmental education.