Blazing a Trail in Law Enforcement and Resource Protection: Felicia Probert
Jennifer Jones, Experienced Services Program
Women’s Equality Day is the perfect time to celebrate how the modern-day BLM was made possible by the leadership, expertise, and lifelong commitment to public service of groundbreaking women.
It might seem like fate when a person attends a high school whose athletic teams go by the name of “The Rangers” and then becomes a law enforcement ranger for the BLM. But if that person is a woman helping to blaze a trail for other female rangers in the Bureau, her accomplishments shouldn’t be chalked up to fate but rather to hard work, professionalism, and a commitment to fair and equitable treatment that deserves recognition on Women’s Equality Day.
Building on her experience as both a patrol ranger and a district ranger, in 1998 Felicia Probert became only the second person—and the first woman—to serve as the National Chief Ranger for the Bureau. In that capacity, even as she worked to shape agency-wide policies and programs for law enforcement rangers, she helped reshape assumptions about viable career pathways for women in the BLM.
“It’s important work, managing and protecting and conserving the nation’s resources across the board,” Felicia said in an interview about her legacy as a ranger. “It’s important to balance out our society and it’s more important than ever with the environmental challenges we face.”
It was this sense of mission that led Felicia to take on multiple national leadership roles in law enforcement and resource protection, including Deputy Director in the BLM’s Office of Law Enforcement and Security. In that position, Felicia supervised the national headquarters staff for the agency’s law enforcement program, helped oversee all aspects of the Bureau’s law enforcement and resource protection efforts, and led the planning and execution of a $27 million annual budget.
A native of Salix, Pennsylvania, and a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh in Johnstown with a B.S. in biology, Felicia was named a Distinguished Alumna of her hometown high school. Recognizing the importance of education for her success in the BLM, she wanted to help young people find their way to careers concerned with public lands. So, she worked with the Community Foundation of the Alleghenies to set up a yearly scholarship awarding $1,000 to college-bound seniors at her former high school. The Rangers Becoming Rangers Scholarship Award is earmarked for students who plan to major in any field related to the preservation, protection, conservation, or management of parks, forests, wildlife, or the outdoors in general.
Both through the scholarship and the example of her own career, Felicia Probert has worked to promote diversity and equity in the Bureau and beyond. Her service provides special inspiration to women seeking careers in natural-resource protection and conservation, and her determination and leadership serve as an example for all.