The Future is Bright

Message From The Director

January and February are what I affectionally call conference months! We have conferences for our Park Managers, Park Rangers, and Park Interpreters. My first time attending as a manager was in January of 1998 and I still remember the fear and excitement. Each year now I get excited to visit with people I haven’t seen in a while, and even more excited to meet some of our incredible new employees. I leave tired and inspired by the people who run our parks each day, and I usually learn something along the way. This year was no exception.

This year’s conference planning was done a little differently. For years, more than I care to count, our leadership team has met and planned the conference agendas and topics. Although in the past we have taken input, and even involved field employees in different capacities, park leadership always set the agenda. Not this year. For the first time in my career, our annual conferences were planned completely by field employees with support from our central office team. From speakers and sessions to activities, the conference was different than any I have attended, and we are all the better for it.

The sessions ranged from learning necessary park skills to becoming better leaders and better equipped for our future, in and out of work. Our talented maintenance professionals were asked to teach sessions on park skills such as plumbing, electrical, facility inspections, septic systems, and more. Park Managers were asked to lead a session on park culture and interpretive staff led an exercise on leadership and project management (it included Legos and was quite interesting). The team found outside speakers to lead sessions on financial planning and wildlife rehab, as well as having our Natural Resource and Human Resources departments lead sessions.

The activities outside the main meetings were just as rewarding. Our teams organized our first-ever retail show, where parks shared some of their retail successes with each other. It was amazing to see the creative way our staff is trying to provide for customers. The team had break-out sessions focused on career development, customer service, team projects, and more. If that wasn’t enough, they also created a park trivia competition with teams of employees competing on park knowledge questions. The competition was heated as they tried to name the 16 CCC parks, the park with a road built for a presidential visit, and the parks with cemeteries on them.

This year's conference season is over. We are back in our parks and at our desks. As we settle into a routine I hope we are better prepared to serve our visitors and each other. Your South Carolina State Parks team is as strong as it has ever been, and I am looking forward to seeing what they do this year and how next year's planning team makes our time together even more effective.


February 2024