Park Manager Rowdy Harris
Park Service Profiles
Our Park Service Profile this month highlights Rowdy Harris, the park manager at Little Pee Dee State Park in Dillon, South Carolina. Harris grew up near Saluda and Batesburg-Leesville on a family farm before graduating from Lander University with a degree in Environmental Science. He started with the South Carolina State Park Service as an assistant ranger at Dreher Island State Park. Shortly thereafter, he accepted his first full time position at Santee State Park in 2006. Throughout his years with the park service, Harris has also worked at Lake Hartwell, Kings Mountain and, of course, Little Pee Dee!
Harris stumbled into a career as a park ranger through a summer job at Dreher Island. He was looking to escape the third shift at Walmart and got hooked on working as a ranger. As a park manager, Harris now works doing a little of everything. He says his job duties include: customer service, general maintenance, project planning, community relations, employee and volunteer supervision, program and event planning, retail management and sales. Whew! He loves the diversity though, as it is the first thing that comes to mind when asked what he finds most satisfying about his job. After that he says: “Probably what I am most proud of is being able to go back to all the parks I have worked at and see projects that I have worked on making a meaningful impact on visitor experience.”
We always ask our Park Service Profiles what the funniest thing that has happened to them as a ranger is, and Harris did not disappoint:
“My first Christmas as a full time ranger I had a call about a sewer issue in a cabin at Santee. It was Christmas Day and raining like someone was pouring water out of a bucket. There was no one else working that day to I got started working on it. I worked in the rain for an hour and a half trying to get the line clear but endedup moving the folks to another cabin. I got all of my equipment loaded up and the truck wouldn’t start. So already without a dry thread on me I walked to my house to get my personal truck so I could jump the battery off on the park truck. Got the park truck started and took it back to the house then walked back again to get my truck. It was an entertaining first Christmas.”
Ranger Harris says he would absolutely encourage others to become a park ranger, as long as that is where your heart is. He says “I have the best job in the world because I get to take care of the places that other people go to relax and forget the world. We get to provide our visitors with a little taste of paradise.” And we thank you, Park Manager Harris, for making such great resources available to all of us!