Historic Sites Coordinator Al Hester
Park Service Profiles
Al Hester was born in Dallas, Texas and grew up in Athens, Georgia. He received his undergraduate degree from Bowdoin College and went on to earn a MA in Public History from the University of South Carolina. He began his career in parks as a park ranger in the National Park Service at St. Gaudens National Historic Site. He then worked at five other National Park Service properties, before taking his current position as Historic Sites Coordinator for the South Carolina State Park Service.
As Historic Sites Coordinator, Hester works in the South Carolina State Parks central office in Columbia. When asked what activities he performs with his job, Hester said, “Historic research, exhibits development, historic site planning, historic preservation, museum collections management, interpretation planning, pretty much anything that has to do with history. I even have gotten to volunteer on archaeology digs.” Those projects involve each of the 47 South Carolina State Parks, and cover a period of history from 1670 to 1970, so the work Hester does is extremely varied.
Hester first thought about becoming a park ranger in high school. He said, “I liked hiking and backpacking and someone said something about being a forest ranger and that sounded good.” Although his job now may not require a hat and badge, he still gets to work closely with parks. “I really enjoyed working as a seasonal ranger, at Isle Royale National Park, with a large group of people who were the same age and had many of the same interests. But, of course, my current job is the most fun—it really is the most interesting work I’ve ever done.”
We asked Hester to sum up his job in one phrase and he said, “It ought to be ‘memory to action.’ In other words, let’s not just preserve history for history’s sake—let’s do it because learning about the past can make the world better today, ideally.” We love getting to learn more about the different people that make our parks work! Thanks, Al, for all that you do!