Hilary for Park Ranger with Hilary Billings
Living in Las Vegas, I have been lucky enough to meet Hilary Billings – The NomadGrad – in person a couple times. Actually the first time I met her in person was when I accidentally ran into her while attending my first Swing and Lindy Hop dance night at the Aruba – Thunderbird Lounge in Vegas.
And let me tell you, can this girl dance!
Hilary has quickly become one of my favourite people in Vegas mainly because of her love for life. Her enthusiasm is infectious! You just can’t be around this girl (or even talk with her on Facebook) and not get smiley. So when I heard she was up for Park Ranger in Australia’s Best job in The World contest, I couldn’t help but be super excited for her.
And I am thankful to announce, that Hilary has made some time in her ridiculously busy schedule to let me interview her about her blogging, how she became one of the 25 people on the short-list for Park Ranger, and how you can follow her/support her for this job.
Hi Hilary, so where are you from?
Originally from Southern California, but I have been raised in Las Vegas and attended college at The University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
How old are you?
24 years-old. But depending on the day, I may act like an excited twelve year-old.
When and why you became a travel blogger?
I started my blog after I graduated college. I faced the biggest rejection of my life when I was rejected from graduate school, even though I graduated summa cum laude and was named Outstanding Graduate of my class.
I decided to attend this surf retreat in Nicaragua, run by this awesome pro-surfer, Holly Beck. And right before I left, I decided to blog about the journey. After all, my life was suddenly more ridiculous than fiction. Little did I know that two years later I’d still be blogging and have an amazing following from around the world. Now the amazing and ridiculous is my everyday. And I encourage others to find everyday adventure as well.
What’s the most unusual/unique/craziest thing you have ever done?
Over the past two years, I’ve done some pretty unusual and crazy things. But the one that sticks out right now is volcano boarding down the world’s most active cinder cone volcano. As if that wasn’t crazy enough, I did it during a thunderstorm, which apparently is a big no-no. Turns out volcanic ash is a great conductor of electricity, so now I know.
You recently entered Australia’s BEST JOB IN THE WORLD contest and got picked as one of the 25 finalists (from over 45,000 people) for the Park Ranger job. What made you want to apply for this contest?
I was on Facebook one day and saw a lot of my travel blogging friends (including Going Nomadic) talking about this amazing contest and I had to go check it out. It seemed too good to be true… getting paid generously to travel, explore, conserve, and share my adventures with the world? It really couldn’t get any better. So I figured I had to give it a shot.
Why did you apply for the Park Ranger position?
I love nature and being outdoors. I’m an adventurer and advocate for wildlife conservation. We’re so lucky to live in a world that offers such awe-inspiring landscape and I feel like it’s our job to not only enjoy it, but preserve it for future generations as well as all the other creatures we coexist with. I’ve worked with sanctuaries in the past and thought I would be a good fit for the position.
How long did it take you to make the video?
It took about two weeks to plan, write a script, pick locations, photos, and edit it together. Of course, a lot of that time was deliberating back and forth as to whether I was taking the right angle and ensuring I was addressing everything that Tourism Australia had asked for in their terms and conditions.
Were you nervous?
Incredibly. I wanted this so much, but I didn’t tell anyone that I had entered because it sounded like such a long shot.
Did you ever think you’d get on the shortlist? (be honest)
No. I believed in my video and my abilities, but there were 600,000 applicants. And it’s a tough situation because you’ve got amazing candidates from around the world and you have no idea what their videos or backgrounds are. And at the end of the day, you never know what they’re really looking for, or what conversations are being held in the decision room. So I wasn’t going to believe it until it happened.
How did you find out you got on the shortlist?
My parents told me. They called screaming and hollering and telling me to pack my bags. But I reserved my happy dance until I saw my video up on the website.
What was the very first thing you did when you found out?
I probably spent ten minutes jumping up and down. And then I think I sat on the floor to let it sink in. It’s all such a blur. But I remember feeling sky high!
What part of the Park Ranger job are you most excited about doing?
Oh man. There are so many great things about this position. Not only would I get to learn alongside experienced guides, but I’d get the opportunity to talk with The Aboriginals, play with wildlife, and most importantly to me, keep their state parks protected. But, as is the driving factor behind my blogging, I love to share what I’m doing with others and inspire and motivate them to have their own adventure. So the most exciting part for me is showcasing all that Australia has to offer and getting people interested in visiting and helping to protect their parks.
Have you ever done anything like this before?
Enter contests? Not really. I won’t even call when there are giveaways on the radio. There was something about this that called to me and I’m thrilled that I listened to my intuition.
Do you have any other talents that you think would help you do this job?
I’m a great communicator, and am so lucky to have a following that believes in my writing. I know I can tell a story, I know I can engage readers and I know I can market. I also have a TON gumption and spice for life, so having a new adventure everyday appeals to me greatly! I think my travel experience and coming from Las Vegas, a city that boasts 40 million tourists a year, are also additional brownie points.
What skill would you like to learn as a Park Ranger in Australia?
I think I’m most excited at the potential to immerse myself in the culture, land, and history as a whole. There’s so much knowledge to be had on such a thrilling backdrop.
What animal are you…
– Most excited to see?
A cassowary. They look like real characters!
– Want to hold?
Certainly koalas because they are fuzzy and adorable, so who wouldn’t want to snuggle that? Also would like to pet a kookaburra. But really, I’m such an animal lover, you’d have to convince me not to cuddle a snake because it’s poisonous.
– Want to learn about the most?
I think as a surf enthusiast and beach bum, I’m looking forward to learning about sharks and colorful marine life.
What is your plan to get picked for this job now?
We’re all in the middle of battling it out via social media. I can’t give away my secrets just yet, but know I’ve got a plan and it’s growing daily due to increased involvement and community interest. Please check for updates on my Facebook page and blog as to what I’m up to!
What can people do to help support Hilary For Park Ranger?
I need as much social media support and help as possible! Please LIKE my Facebook page, FOLLOW on Twitter, and check out my blog to see what crazy adventures I’m getting into along this journey. I can only do this with your help! So please support #TeamHilary for #ParkRanger!
Contact Info: (click the links)
Facebook: HilaryForRanger and TheNomadGrad
Twitter: @TheNomadGrad and @HilaryForRanger
Support Hilary by sending her tips and ideas on how she should prepare for her Park Ranger position! Want to see the video that got her on the shortlist? Check it out: