Interpretive Ranger Cathy Taylor
Park Service Profiles
Cathy Taylor’s first park job was at Huntington Beach State Park. She worked as a summer naturalist alongside her boyfriend at the time. That summer ended with a proposal on the beach. Thirty-one years and two children later, she works as the Interpretive Ranger at Paris Mountain State Park in Greenville, South Carolina.
Taylor grew up in Miami, Florida and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Florida. She went on to earn her master’s degree in Forest and Recreation Resources with an emphasis in Environmental Interpretation and Resource Management from Clemson University. Quite a mouthful, but a degree that has served her well throughout her career. Taylor has been at Paris Mountain for over a decade but has worked educating the public about nature in various locations for years.
In her job at Paris Mountain, Taylor works primarily to provide 2nd and 5th graders with unique experiences in the out of doors, particularly highlighting the importance of habitat and protecting natural areas. During the winter, Taylor catches up on projects she may not have time for the rest of the year- often historical research, typing up her nature log, working on exhibits around the park and developing other interpretive material. When asked what she finds most satisfying about her job, Taylor did not hesitate. “Sharing the wonders of nature. Over and over, I see students (and sometimes adults) who are kind of euphoric about the experience they are having while in the creek, or as we watch a dragonfly laying eggs, or some other event they have never seen before.”
Taylor’s experiences on the job aren’t always quite as refined, however: “I’ve stepped in mud up to my knee while observing frogs near the water at night. I’ve waded up to my chest to get a turtle that was caught in fishing line. Once I found myself trying to pull a black rat snake by the tail, to keep it from going into a bluebird box (while a class of 2nd graders were watching). In my first office here at Paris Mountain, there were crickets hopping on my desk, and a squirrel running around the rafters above me. These are funny experiences you don’t get with most jobs.” We couldn’t agree more- and it’s something Taylor loves about her job at Paris Mountain.
Of being a park ranger Taylor says: “It is a wonderful job for someone who enjoys being outdoors in all kinds of weather and who enjoys talking with people because that is a big part of the job. We don’t do it to get rich. I think of this as a calling, being a spokesperson for the natural world. The way you spend your days is basically how you spend your life, and I’m grateful to be spending my days showing others our wonderful natural world.”
And we are grateful for you and all you do, Ranger Cathy!