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Ranger School

An experience unlike any other. Earn a two-year degree and prepare for a career in the outdoors while immersed in the spectacular natural setting of the Adirondack forest.

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Students come to the Ranger School to pursue an associate degree in Environmental and Natural Resources Conservation, Forest Technology, or Land Surveying Technology. While here, they engage in hands-on learning in the 2,800-acre forest that is part of ESF’s campus in the Adirondacks. They work side by side with faculty on projects such as studying a forest that is recovering from a devastating storm or monitoring the development of tree stands planted several generations ago.

Dr. Mariann Johnston

Meet the Director

Dr. Mariann Johnston

"Our commitment to hands-on training is one of the best in the country. To care for the health and welfare of our forests — and to understand and make good decisions about how we utilize our resources — we need people who can navigate through the woods and who can identify, measure and monitor everything from trees to water to wildlife."

Full Faculty Directory

Areas of Study

The Ranger School offers Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degrees in three programs, typically earned with two years of study.

Environmental and Natural Resources Conservation

Introducing students to a broad range of natural resource disciplines, providing a pathway to either further study or a technical career in the environmental and natural resources sector.

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Hand holding Ranger School trail signage placards

Forest Technology

This is the longest-running program of its kind in the country! We provide a unique combination of knowledge and skills in forestry and timber production through a combination of classroom lectures, demonstration, and hands-on fieldwork.

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Students in hard hats work in a logging demonstration.

Land Surveying Technology

Obtain a sound technical background and immediate employment opportunities through intensive classroom and field focus on fundamental land surveying principles, techniques, and skills.

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Student in a hard hat looking into a surveying instrument


The Ranger School curricula demand hard work and high-quality academic achievement. Program completion requires concentrated and consistent study. Classes are scheduled 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday with classroom and laboratory time equally divided. Successful completion of homework and projects requires many hours of evening and weekend study, in addition to daily classes and laboratory/field exercises. Several field trips are made during the year, and students often attend a multi-day professional meeting.

Academic Calendar

Student Life

Find out what it's like to study and live at the Ranger School!

Life in Wanakena

About the Ranger School

Black and white photo of the historical Ranger School property.

Located in the heart of the six million–acre Adirondack Park, the 2,800-acre campus supports the field-based education that is a hallmark of The Ranger School experience. The main campus building houses state-of-the-art facilities, including classrooms, a conference room, and a dining facility. Additional facilities include a library, dry lab, computer lab, student residence rooms, and entertainment and recreation areas.

Since established in 1912, The Ranger School has trained over 4,000 students and earned a national reputation for excellence. The program is administered by and is an integral part of the Department of Sustainable Resources Management. This unique model of a single professional faculty offering all levels of study from technical through postdoctoral emphasizes the teamwork approach to forest resource science and management espoused by the faculty.

How to Get Here

257 Ranger School Road, Wanakena, NY

From Syracuse (about 3 hours)
Take Route 81 to Route 342 (Ft. Drum) to Route 3 East (Natural Bridge, Harrisville, Star Lake). Follow Route 3 for 6 miles beyond Star Lake and take County Road 61 (right turn). Proceed about 1 mile, bear left at “Gateway to Wilderness” sign, proceed about .2 miles, take first left turn (Ranger School Road), and go all the way to the end.

From Albany (about 4 hours)
Take Route 87 North to Exit 23 (Warrensburg). Take Route 28 N to Indian Lake to Blue Mountain Lake. In Blue Mountain Lake, take Route 30 to Long Lake and on to Tupper Lake. In Tupper Lake, take Route 3 West to Cranberry Lake. Proceed 8 miles beyond Cranberry Lake on Route 3 to County Road 61 (left turn). Proceed about 1 mile, bear left at “Gateway to Wilderness” sign, proceed about .2 miles, take first left turn (Ranger School Road), and go all the way to the end.

Directions & Lodging

Sun setting over Wanakena, NY