Ranger Derek Jacob Senn
Park Service Profiles
Meet Ranger Derek Jacob Senn, a proud member of the South Carolina State Park Service. Just a few months shy of a year, Ranger Senn began working on September 16, 2020, at Cheraw State Park after graduating from Piedmont Technical College. Growing up, Ranger Senn visited several parks which he says contributed to his decision to be a park ranger, “I always had a great interaction with the rangers and an appreciation for the park service. When I started working as an assistant ranger, I enjoyed working at a park every day, but found a deeper pride in helping others and being responsible for taking care of a park.”
Aside from the daily maintenance tasks of being a park ranger, Ranger Senn feels the interpretive side is just as important when preparing to be a park ranger. “A big obstacle that a lot of people will face starting as a park ranger, is public relations and public speaking. Starting out, I really struggled with the confidence to talk to people outside of just reciting information. Now, I am able to keep a conversation going and talk to people about the park because I have the mindset that every interaction I have, I want to leave the person smiling and for them to enjoy their visit,” he said.
Some rangers find that the most satisfying part of the job is being in the outdoors, while others enjoy meeting and talking with park visitors about their park. For Ranger Senn, seeing others enjoy something he had a hand in developing, is what he enjoys most. “From something like finishing a large beautification project, to something as small as handing the keys to a guest checking into a cabin, it’s the feeling of passing by something you did and clearly seeing others enjoying it that lets me know I’ve done a good job,” he said.
Prior to working at Cheraw State Park, Ranger Senn started off his park service time with Dreher Island State Park as an Assistant Ranger, which he says holds a special place in his heart. “Dreher was fun to me, in that every day I worked, there was something different and episodic. I knew I could always find someone with a special bond to the state parks who had visited for so long with a strong passion for the outdoors.” With so many great parks, many of our rangers look forward to exploring the other parks within the state park system. “I haven’t been to all the parks yet, but I love Ceasars Head and Jones Gap state parks. I love hiking and to say they are the most beautiful views I have ever seen is an understatement,” he said.
As a park ranger, protecting and sharing the natural resources within parks is a large responsibility that all rangers take pride in; however, sometimes Ranger Senn feels like their roles get misconstrued. “A big misconception is that we're the authoritative figure that’s only here to enforce rules. Park rangers care about the parks and the people in them. Enforcing the rules is part of the job, but when it all comes down to it, we're in the business of having a good time, preserving nature, history and making memories,” he said.
Without the help of rangers and staff like Ranger Senn, protecting our state's natural resources, and helping park visitors, our state park system could not operate effectively! Thank you so much Ranger Senn for your hard work and dedication to the South Carolina State Park Service. Watch Episode 9 of "A Day in the Life of a Park Ranger" to learn more about the work that Ranger Senn does at Cheraw State Park.
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