Interpretive Ranger Mary Mikulla
Park Service Profiles
South Carolina State Parks, and especially the state historic sites, would not be what they are today without the hard work of interpretive rangers. Mary Mikulla is one of those special rangers at Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site.
Mikulla was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She received her undergraduate degree in Anthropology/Sociology from Denison University, and went on to get her master’s in Public History from Duquesne University. In between undergraduate and graduate school, Mikulla worked as an interpretive ranger with the National Park Service for three and a half years.
Mikulla’s passion for the park service was born during a “lightbulb moment” her senior year of college: “I realized that state and national parks were basically outdoor museums and a perfect way to combine my love of the outdoors with my love of history. I haven’t looked back since.” And we are thankful for that!
Hampton Plantation State Historic Site was the first South Carolina State Park Mikulla called home. As with most rangers, she loves how different her job can be day to day. “I might be giving a family a site tour, leading a school group through educational activities, developing new programs, displays, or waysides. I could also be assisting with archaeological digs, cleaning and processing artifacts for long-term storage. Some days, on the other hand, call for more typical ‘park duties’ such as mowing the grass, painting signs, cutting fallen tree limbs or cleaning the bathrooms,” Mikulla says. The most satisfying part of her job at Colonial Dorchester is showing locals who decided to stop by the park for the first time all the history there. “I like seeing that click of knowledge and pride when they realize how special of a resource they have in their backyard,” said Mikulla.
When asked to sum up her job in one phrase, Mikulla says: “I get to inspire the future while working with the past.” What a great way to explain the magic of working as an interpretive ranger at a historic site. Thank you, Ranger Mikulla for all that you do!