Customer Service Awards 2011

Employees Awarded for Exceptional Service in 2011

Customer service is at the very core of what makes our South Carolina State Parks so special. Of course, it’s the resources that draw visitors to the 47 state parks…..and one of those resources is our people. Read more about our four customer service employees awarded in January.


Lakes Region - Betty Brown - Sadlers Creek State Park

Betty Brown is the face of the State Park Service at Sadlers Creek State Park.  She always comes to work and performs her job admirably and efficiently. Every weekend, when Betty prepares the park for visitors, she prepares as though she were getting her house ready for company. Robert Angle, author of the Carolina Considered website, took note of Betty’s dedication and work ethic, stating in an email that the park was lucky to have such a professional, dedicated individual on staff. To the region chief, this remark was a no-brainer. “I wish I had ten more employees just like her,” he said.


Sandhills Region - Gary Nave, Poinsett State Park

Gary Nave only spends two days per week of paid time at Poinsett State Park, but even on his days off he can still be found volunteering at the park. Gary’s tasks and accomplishments include, but are not limited to, campsite and roadside renovations, cutting all of the grass in the park, cleaning and repairing park bathrooms, raking pine straw, spreading and raking mulch, keeping the park free of trash and giving out park information to visitors.

Although Gary hardly interacts directly with park visitors, his hard work has had a profound impact on them. Letters and Facebook posts pour in to Poinsett State Park from visitors who compliment the cleanliness of the park as well as take notice of the improvements made. It’s Gary’s extra effort and over-achieving attitude that make Poinsett State Park a visitor favorite.

Mountain Region, Robert Mahoney, Devils Fork State Park

A native of Sumter, SC, Robert Mahoney began his career with the state park service at Santee State Park, after he received a degree in Park Management from Clemson University. In his 10 year career, Robert has worked at Oconee State Park, the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area and is now a valuable member of the team at Devils Fork State Park. In addition to his duties as a park ranger, Robert is a member of the Ceremonial Corps, Search and Rescue Team and is a certified instructor for CPR, defensive driving and first aid. Whether he is checking someone into their campsite or villa, finding a place guests to park for a picnic or giving an Oconee Bell nature walk, Robert is the face of the park service for 335,000 park visitors. It is his ever-present smile and never-meet-a-stranger attitude that has made him a customer favorite.

Coastal Region - CJ Ohlandt, Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site

CJ Ohlandt, the interpretive specialist on the Adventure at Charles Towne Landing, specializes in creating memorable experiences for visitors. Not only does CJ go above and beyond his duties, but in 2010, he developed a new interpretive program. The program, called 'haul the yard', is a work-song program that requires call and response from audience members. Although getting shy audience members to participate can be a challenge, CJ wins them over with his charisma and friendly attitude and often draws and hold the attention of large groups.

When he can find a volunteer to watch the boat, CJ goes to the yardarm exhibit where he warmly greets tour groups and teaches the haul the yard program. Actively engaging visitors is never a challenge for CJ. Even after guests leave, CJ’s energy leaves a lasting impression on them. Blogs and visitor comment books often mention CJ by name, and credit him for the wonderful time spent at Charles Towne Landing. For all of his hard work and innovation, CJ was recently recognized as the Outstanding New Interpreter by the National Association for Southeast Region.

A special thanks and congratulations to this year’s Customer Service Award honorees!