Ranger Nathaniel Beck

Park Service Profiles

Born and raised in Shelby, North Carolina, Nathaniel Beck, also known as "Ranger Hoss", had no intention of ever being a park ranger. After majoring in Forest Management, he was confident he would pursue a career with the Forest Service. However, he landed a role as a park ranger at Kings Mountain State Park to “give it a try” and the rest as they say, is history.

When he was asked about the activities and duties he performs as a park ranger, he answered with a commonly used phrase within the South Carolina State Park Service, “We are jacks-of-all-trades and masters of none. The list of things we don’t do is infinitely shorter than the things we do. In addition to looking for hazards and constantly fixing and improving areas that need to be addressed, my favorite is getting to talk with park visitors,” he said. Ranger Hoss also loves the fact that although he was hired to perform specific tasks, being a park ranger allows him to combine his passions and his job responsibilities. “Yes, I have to scrub the occasional toilet, but I also get to help film interpretive videos. Yes, I have to pick up trash on the side of the road, but I also get to use my woodworking skills to build things and make improvements on the park,” he said.

Rangers often have funny stories of things they’ve experienced while working with the state park service. Ranger Hoss recounts one of the park moments that lead up to him earning the nickname “Hoss.” “As a park ranger, I’ve learned to find humor in the things that go wrong. An example being the time I helped replace an old, galvanized pipe. I was working on unscrewing the pipe, but I didn’t realize I was putting so much force behind it.  As I was rotating the pipe, it snapped in two. And what made it worse was that the break happened inside of a block of concrete. So instead of just replacing one pipe, we ended up having to dig out all the concrete and completely replumb the line,” he recounted.  

One of the many reasons that make South Carolina State Park rangers so awesome, is their ability to remain calm under pressure - whether during construction phases, medical emergencies or even weather-related issues. He recounts one of his hardest moments in parks, “The hardest day I had was the day a tornado came through Kings Mountain.  I was trapped in a full campground for several hours doing everything I could to keep everyone calm and make sure that everyone was safe. After we managed to clear all the trees from the roads, we received a call about a lost hiker, and I was a part of a search and rescue until 3 o’clock in the morning. Thankfully, we found the hiker safe and sound, and no one was injured during the entire tornado event.”

As you travel through parks, I’m sure you’ll notice how unique each and every park is. Ranger Hoss says that this is not the only difference to note. “One misconception about rangers is that we all are the same and do the same things. The park rangers in North Carolina have very different tasks and responsibilities than South Carolina rangers and the same with other states' park rangers. There is no uniform pattern for what a park ranger is, except that we work outside. Not all of us get to hike trails as some people think. Not all of us even studied parks and recreation.” 

To add to that Ranger Hoss says that being a park ranger is not a job. “Being a park ranger is much different than any job I have ever worked. To call it a “job” would take away from the fact that it’s not just a job, but it is also a lifestyle. If you want easy, predictable, and ordinary, then being a park ranger may not be for you. But if you embrace the unknown, laugh when you make a mistake, and are willing to accept your job as a way of life then I would try it out,” he said.

Thank you, Ranger Hoss, for the exciting energy you bring to the Battle of Rivers Bridge State Historic Site and for always lending a helping hand.

To learn more about Ranger Hoss, get a few laughs, and experience a grand adventure at the Battle of Rivers Bridge State Historic Site, watch episode 6 of “A Day in the Life of a Park Ranger.”