One PEF member leads the way for people to become outdoor licensed guides
By DEBORAH A. MILES
Thousands of residents and visitors take advantage of all the seasonal activities offered throughout New York state. In the spring and summer months, activities such as rafting, camping, hiking, canoeing and kayaking are among the popular leisure pastimes. In the fall, it’s fishing and hunting.
The state wants to ensure that everyone is safe and has an enjoyable experience, and that goal means issuing licenses or certificates and having people take exams to be qualified as a guide.
PEF member Colleen Kayser is the behind-the-scenes person that ensures whether the guide on your white water rafting adventure or rock and ice climbing experience has the qualifications and credentials to do the job.
As an environmental program specialist trainer at the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for 13 years, Kayser has seen the licensed guide program grow throughout time. Last year for example, she issued 221 new licenses for a variety of guide positions, and renewed 301.
“There are currently more than 2,000 guides licensed throughout the state,” Kayser said.
She is singlehandedly responsible for the development and management of the application packet for those interested in becoming a licensed guide. The three-page application includes things such as their address, date of birth, physical description, documents to verify their identity, copies of documents or certificates for First Aid, CPR and water safety regulations, plus information regarding any law violations.
“My typical day is reviewing applications, and that includes a physician’s statement of physical ability to guide. When the applications are approved and processed, they are sent to one of the seven DEC regions where a ranger in that district will give an exam,” Kayser said. “Once a year in March, I attend the NYS Outdoor Guide Association and administer the exam at that meeting. I also determine exam dates based on my knowledge of seasonal needs of individual guide categories so licenses are issued timely.”
Within five to ten business days of the exam, Kayser notifies applicants of their exam scores, and determines if they need to provide any additional required information. Once she receives all the materials, Kayser updates the information in the applicant’s record on a database and is able to print out an applicant’s laminated license, complete with a photo and mails it to the individual, along with a badge and certificate.
“My job is rewarding because of the people. Most of them are very excited to become guides, as it is something they really want to do. They thank me and say things such as, ‘You made this process very easy.’ I also meet people from Canada and other states, as you don’t have to live in New York to be a licensed guide.
“New York is very proactive at safeguarding people who explore the wildlands and waters,” Kayser said. “I am proud to be a part of the New York State Licensed Guide Program as it is all about protecting novices through the use of professional outdoor guides.”
For complete details on how to become a licensed guide, go to https://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/30969.html.