Ranger Rick Highers
Park Service Profiles
Meet Patrick "Rick" Highers, Ranger II at Cheraw State Park! Rick grew up in coastal South Carolina, where he spent most of his time outdoors exploring the woods, fishing, or watching wildlife. Rick says, "I have always had a passion for nature, and was a Boy Scout from Tiger Cub through Eagle Scout. Though I didn’t know it at the time, scouting taught me valuable skills in teamwork, leadership, conservation, wildlife management, and wilderness survival that set the foundation for my career as a ranger."
After graduating from Salisbury University with a B.S. in Biology and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore with a B.S. in Environmental Science, Rick faced the challenge of securing a position that would facilitate the repayment of student loans, so he accepted a job as a teacher. This endeavor not only allowed him to discharge his financial obligations but also kindled a profound passion for educating and interacting with people. "This experience showed me how much I loved educating and working with people," he says.
The trajectory of this career was abruptly interrupted by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of this unanticipated circumstance, Rick decided to seize the opportunity of an entry-level position with the South Carolina State Park Service. This career transition allowed him to integrate his love for the outdoors, education, and conservation. Reflecting on his journey with gratitude, Rick says,
"I feel like I was meant to be a ranger, and all my life experiences and previous jobs were there to prepare me for the role. I love working for the SC Park Service, and I honestly couldn't have asked for a better career."
Rick began his career with South Carolina State Parks at Myrtle Beach State Park as an Assistant Ranger where he then promoted to Off-Park Ranger. In 2022 he transitioned to a Ranger II at Cheraw State Park. Rick's responsibilities include an array of duties, including overseeing park operations, ensuring public safety, enforcing rules and regulations, responding to emergencies, and educating the public about the park's cultural and natural resources.
When asked about what his favorite part about being a park ranger, Rick doesn't hesitate to say it's the people. "There is nothing better than teaching someone about nature or helping someone through a medical emergency and knowing you made a difference in their life," he shares.
In the realm of park rangers, no two days are identical. Each day ushers in a new set of unique challenges, providing rangers like Rick with a perpetually evolving and engaging environment in which to thrive. Rick fondly recollects a humorous incident during a program about snakes. In the midst of the presentation, a snake decided to make an unscripted contribution on the front of Rick's uniform, resulting in shared laughter among the attendees.
Yet, amidst the laughter, park rangers like Rick are confronted with demanding situations. One such poignant moment transpired during an emergency call, where an RV in the campground had caught on fire. While the occupants were unscathed, their camper and possessions were not. Rick's steadfast support, adept communication, and empathetic presence proved indispensable that night.
Of the parks he has served, Myrtle Beach State Park stands out as Rick's favorite. The park's busy environment with diverse challenges ranging from medical emergencies to conflict resolution, wildlife encounters, maintenance, housekeeping, and retail operations, means there is never a shortage of excitement. Rick says, "as exhausting as it sounds, I loved the constant hubbub and found it very fun."
Rick's enthusiasm for his role reflects his encouragement for others interested in the career. "If you enjoy being in nature, working with your hands, and aiding both people and wildlife, then this is the ideal career path for you," he says. For someone interested in becoming a park ranger, Rick offers some advice. He advocates for volunteering in parks, pursuing a degree in natural resource management, and monitoring state job postings. He also mentions that gaining skills and networking are pivotal steps towards securing a position.
Rick has not yet achieved his Ultimate Outsider status, but looks forward to exploring of the unique beauty of Edisto Beach State Park, along with learning more about the history of Redcliffe Plantation.
Thank you Rick , for your hard work and dedication to the state park service! Think you might be interested in a job with the South Carolina State Park Service? Click here to see our current, full-time job openings!
Check out our video below for some things to look for next time you visit Cheraw State Park!