Park Ranger David Gilson

Park Service Profiles

From a young age, David Gilson has known he wanted to be a park ranger. Gilson grew up in Greer, South Carolina and was a frequent visitor of both Jones Gap and Caesars Head. He went on to obtain a degree in Parks and Protected Area Management from Clemson University and started his career with the South Carolina State Park Service shortly thereafter.

Growing up, Gilson was a Boy Scout. As a scout, Gilson encountered a ranger at the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area. He says, “Their knowledge, enthusiasm and love of the outdoors was contagious enough to inspire me to pursue a career in parks.” Gilson started his career as an assistant ranger at Sesquicentennial State Park. He then became park technician at the same park and eventually moved to his current position as Ranger I at Cheraw State Park.

At Cheraw, Gilson performs a wide variety of tasks. He often interacts with visitors- answering questions, solving problems and coordinating programs such as the Moonlight Canoe Floats. Gilson also manages much of the retail operation on the park, and even performs general maintenance tasks such as electrical and plumbing work.

When asked what he finds most satisfying about his job, Gilson responds: “making an impact on a guest that compels them to visit other parks, come back to our park, and even inspires someone to pursue the same rewarding career.”

Gilson’s love for his job and the park service shines through in his interview. His funniest moment on the job? A particularly wet day in the swamp at Sesqui: “Rusty Zahler and I were working on a resource management project at Sesqui and we were stomping through the swamp.  Rusty took one step too far and sank to his knee, filling his rubber boot with water. I began to laugh at him hysterically, and karma ensued.  I turned to climb over a fallen tree and as I crested over, the tree snapped and I ended up sitting in the swamp.  All Rusty could say was ‘That’s what you get!’ as he laughed as hard as I did at him.”

Gilson calls his job the “best job ever” and would absolutely encourage others to become a park ranger. Gilson says “it’s the most rewarding career I could have hoped to obtain. You can’t beat the places you’ll live and the encounters you’ll have while being a SC State Park Ranger.”

Thank you for all you do, Ranger David!