Ranger James Studdard
Park Service Profiles
Ranger James Studdard stepped into the role of park ranger back in 2018. As a child of missionaries, Ranger James was born in Birmingham, Alabama, but grew up in several different areas like Greenville, SC, Canada and Western Africa. After graduating from Clemson University and working in an office for four years, Ranger Studdard traveled overseas to teach for three years. It wouldn’t be until later that he realized the skills from both the classroom and office would be useful to him as a park ranger.
Ranger James began his park service career at Paris Mountain State Park and then moved to Lee State Park. Now at Aiken State Park, he spends time educating park visitors which he says is his personal favorite. Although park in-person programs are halted, Ranger James has been a tremendous help in educating virtual park visitors. Aiken State Park is home to three artesian wells that often raise brows to exactly how they pump water…That was until Ranger James created a video that explained how and reached over 56K people. “I have really enjoyed the opportunity to create outdoor programs. Even for visitors who frequent the park, there are always new perspectives or previously unobserved features to discover. Helping others explore and experience the parks is enormously rewarding,” he said.
Ranger James recounted a funny park memory while paddling through what he considered a “snaky area.” “While looking around with my park manager, I saw several branches high above the water move and then heard splashes. I nervously said, ‘I think snakes are jumping out of the trees’ to which my manager responded, ‘it’s just turtles.’ So now I call them tree turtles, but they were most definitely snakes,” he said. Equally as funny, he remembers the time he had to explain to a park visitor who spoke little English what a whoopie cushion was and how it works using gestures and sound effects. From sharing laughs with park visitors to handling trail maintenance, park rangers wear many hats.
Currently, Aiken State Park ranks number one as his favorite park to work at. “We are not a huge park, so I get to be involved in nearly every aspect of park operations. It makes every day interesting. I clean bathrooms, clear fallen trees on the canoe trail, make camping reservations, split firewood, repair broken faucets answer phone calls, work with camp hosts and much more,” Ranger James said. To see Ranger James in action, watch A Day in the Life of a Park Ranger: Episode 4.