Why Receiving A Forest Ranger Honor Meant So Much To Betty White

Is there anything Betty White can’t do? In addition to being an award-winning actress, comedian, author, and animal rights advocate (via Smithsonian), it turns out White is also an honorary forest ranger.

The title was bestowed on Betty White, now 99, in 2010 by the U.S. Forest Service, which is part of the Department of Agriculture. “Betty White’s lifelong dedication to protecting wilderness and wildlife was recognized today when the U.S. Forest Service proclaimed her an honorary forest ranger,” a press release from the office read. The honor was particularly meaningful because, as White had previously stated in several interviews, she dreamed of being a forest ranger as a child — but the job wasn’t open to women. 

White spent a great deal of time outdoors as a child, as reported by Entertainment Weekly. She spent time riding horses in the High Sierra with her dad and went on camping trips at Yellowstone National Park.

Betty White is a longtime environmental activist

Betty White’s passion for the great outdoors has lasted throughout her life. According to Grist, she’s been an environmental activist for decades. White works with the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Los Angeles Zoo, both of which have programs aimed at teaching people about protecting animals that live in the wild. She also developed a 2011 calendar and donated all proceeds to the Morris Animal Foundation, an animal health charity that funds veterinary medicine and research.

“I am sorry you couldn’t join us before,” U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell told White during the ceremony that officially made her an honorary ranger. “Judging from your illustrious career, you would have made marvelous contributions to our agency and to the cause of conservation across the United States” (via U.S. Forest Service).

The U.S. Forest Service’s press release noted that their staff was 38 percent women at the time White received her honor. “In my heart I’ve been a forest ranger all my life, but now I’m official,” White said after receiving her official badge and Stetson hat.

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