Park Ranger Austin Mitchum
Park Service Profiles
Park Ranger Austin Mitchum grew up in Augusta, Georgia with a strong love for the outdoors. He attended Horry Georgetown Technical College and graduated with a degree in Forestry and Wildlife Management. He has been with the South Carolina State Park Service since graduating. He started his career as an assistant ranger at Huntington Beach State Park and has since moved to Calhoun Falls State Park and assumed the roll of park ranger.
Mitchum’s daily routine is much the same as many of our rangers- not very routine at all! When asked about it, he talked about the typical activities we all know: landscaping, maintenance, cleaning and much more. He also, however, listed one many rangers don’t mention. He said: “the most important activity that I perform is maintaining a safe work environment and a safe state park.” This may be something the average park visitor doesn’t notice, but it’s a very important job function for every park employee. Mitchum says one of the most satisfying things about his job is the Junior Ranger program. He says: “you get to show these kids, who will one day be our successors, what it means to have that love for the environment and the outdoors.”
We always ask our Park Service Profiles to tell us about the funniest thing that has happened to them on the job, and Mitchum did not disappoint:
“The funniest thing that’s happened to me as a park ranger was at Huntington Beach State Park. On a late shift one summer night just before locking the gates, I made my way to the dumpsters to dispose of all the trash I had collected that day. If you’ve never been to Huntington Beach State Park, just know there is a pretty large population of raccoons. Well as I’m making my way to the dumpster with my hands full I slid the dumpster door open with my elbow and out like a rocket came this raccoon straight for me. The funny part of the story was that the raccoon scared me so bad I fell backwards, dropped what was in my hands, and let out a pretty horrific scream. Afterwards I had a pretty good laugh about it when I shared the story with my fellow park rangers and friends.”
Mitchum says he would encourage others to become a park ranger, saying it’s a very rewarding job. And when we asked him to sum up his job in one phrase? “It’s a great day in South Carolina!” A friendly greeting and the definition of a job as a park ranger all rolled into one!