Park Ranger Bryan Hester

Park Service Profiles

Lake Greenwood Senior Ranger is the ‘Real Thing’

Bryan Hester tends to the Iron Ranger, the metal box where guests leave payments at their state parks, but he’s the real thing.

Just ask the family from Charleston who arrived late one night and found that their RV was too big for any of the remaining sites at Lake Greenwood State Park. Not to worry, Hester, the park’s long-time senior ranger, got on the phone, found them a suitable spot at another nearby lake park and off they went.

“The kids even stopped crying,” he recalls. Guests to the popular park on the shores of Lake Greenwood know they also can count on Hester for such inside information as the best place to swim, hike and even fish.

“I’ve been known to tell a select few about some of my favorite fishing honey holes,” he says with his characteristic smile.

Hester has been with the South Carolina State Park Service for 23 years, beginning as a lifeguard and then technician at Paris Mountain State Park. He also has served as a ranger at Hamilton Branch State Park on Lake Thurmond and has spent the past 10 years as the senior ranger at Lake Greenwood.

His affinity for lake parks has grown over the years. “Where else can you just walk out your door in the morning and find yourself in such a great setting, with the fishing and the wildlife and everything there to enjoy,” he says.

Hester says he also gets a lot of satisfaction from seeing happy visitors. “It means a lot to us when they tell us how the park looks great and how much they enjoyed their stay and how they want to come back,” he says.

Hester also takes pleasure in helping others do their jobs well. For instance, he’s a CPR and first-aid instructor and responsible for planning that training for the Park Service’s Lakes Region, in addition to his daily duties that include maintenance and supervision and all the things that go into making a state park a special place year after year for visitors.

It’s also been a great place for his schoolteacher wife, Patti, and he to raise their children, Ashley, now 13, and Alex, 10.

“If you enjoy working outside, working with the public and are a nature lover like me, then this could just be your career. I really can’t see myself doing anything else than being a park ranger,” he says.