“The Wolf Ranger”: Daniel Curry Speaks to Students of SPFHS

Elizabeth Diamond, News Editor

Zachary Rittner has been in love with wolves ever since he got to see them at Yellowstone Park. Now, he is able to inspire his students to fall in love with the species through enriching experiences—one of them being well-known “Wolf Ranger” Daniel Curry speaking to students live at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School.


In both AP Environmental Science and Academic Environmental Science, Rittner teaches students about the importance of wolves and the background of this fascinating species. Students take part in a Yellowstone Town Hall debate as well as listen to several podcasts, including “The Wolf Ranger” by Chris Morgan, who visited SPFHS earlier in the year.


Curry, who visited the high school virtually last year to see the class’ town hall debate, spoke to students on Tuesday, March 14 about both his history with wolves and their significance to an ecosystem. The presentation took the form of a Q&A, where students had the opportunity to ask questions directly to Curry.


With his job being a Range Rider, Curry protects wolves all while learning about the different sides of the wolf conflict; one that has been going on for years in the West.


“Well, [Daniel Curry] has a very interesting perspective where he’s the middle ground; he wants to make sure the cattle are okay but also wants to protect the wolves,” junior Rachel Lipsky said. “I think that’ll be really helpful for our town hall debate where we’re trying to find solutions where everyone is happy.”


Rittner hopes to grow students’ interest in the species and educate them about their impact on our ecosystems as a keystone species. Rittner also uses the opportunity to highlight wolves by having students read several books throughout the year, including “American Wolf” by Nate Blakeslee or “The Reign of Wolf 21” by Rick McIntyre.

“I think [wolves] are poorly represented in popular culture as a nuisance or a pest or a real issue like that,” Rittner said. “We have the opportunity to correct that a little bit and get students to fall in love with a really charismatic sort of species.”


By having guest speakers come to the school, Rittner hopes that students will walk away having grown as environmentalists.


“Something our environmental science curriculum does really well is bring in those really authentic experiences…That’s the driving force behind a lot of what we do; whether it’s the trout, the terrapins, the quail, the field trips, the guest speakers, it’s just trying to bring that authenticity to the classroom,” Rittner said.


In the future, Rittner looks to keep these relationships with both Morgan and Curry and continue to expand the environmental science curriculum.


“Just like with any of the wildlife programs, or the field trips, it’s trying to really inspire students to care about nature and want to become advocates and environmental stewards,” Rittner said.