Making A Difference

Message From The Director

                I think most people would say that they hope to make a difference somewhere.  Whether it is in someone else’s life, what we do at our job or the impact we have on our community, we want our impact to be felt and we want to make a difference. During my travels, I am frequently amazed at the difference makers I have the privilege of interacting with.

                There are so many great areas of opportunity to improve both parks and programs that we could never come close to accomplishing a fraction of them with just our resources.  It is here where I see difference makers step in and help out every day.  At parks around the state, friends groups, corporate sponsors, volunteers and people we sometimes never meet, are making a difference with their donations of time and money. Projects that help us serve our visitors are better accomplished because someone else has a passion for parks and a desire to help make improvements.  Sometimes it is a donation given directly to a park for a needed piece of equipment, other times it is a larger donation that is coordinated through the agency.  Regardless, because of these groups we are able to do some incredible things we would otherwise struggle to accomplish.  From improvements to campgrounds and parking areas, to lake and nature center restorations and renovations, we are fortunate that many friends groups provide a driving force for improvements in our parks.  With the generous donations made by corporate sponsors, we accomplish large tasks like acquiring and constructing new facilities; tasks that we would struggle to fund ourselves.  Then in the background are our volunteers, who on many days, work diligently to assist with vital functions like helping monitor and protect our resources, as well as, serving our customers.  These groups are not just integral parts of the team but indeed difference makers.

                These many supporters may never be noticed by visitors at our parks, but they certainly pave the way for a group most visitors will surely notice, our staff.  The incredible park staffs have been working hard all summer hoping to make sure your experiences are memorable.  I love watching our social media accounts and emails flooded with pictures of our state park family growing, as we congratulate and welcome new park visitors, Ultimate Outsiders and Junior Rangers.  This summer I was touched as I witnessed a young man earn his Habitat Hero Award after spending an entire week at Myrtle Beach State Park and participating in various programs and activities.  I had the opportunity to talk to an employee at Paris Mountain State Park who paid admission for a group when they were not prepared to pay themselves.  I always hear from visitors about employees going above and beyond at parks throughout the state by bringing them firewood, helping them set up camp in the dark or even providing first aid for everything from small scratches to CPR.  The people I get to work with make a difference every single day.

                As our summer winds down and kids head back to school, many of our parks staffs are finally catching a breath and taking a well-deserved break.  The weekdays have slowed a little, and hopefully lower temperatures will soon follow. With the season change, school programs, Halloween activities and more right around the corner, one thing I know is that tired though they may be, our staff will continue to do what is necessary to make a difference.