Ranger Sammy Goodwin

Park Service Profiles

Some of our park staff have a deeper connection to their parks, like Samuel Goodwin, the Off-Park Ranger at Myrtle Beach State Park. Sammy was born in Fredrick, Maryland but soon after he was born, his family moved to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He and his four siblings were all homeschooled, and Sammy began volunteering in parks from a young age. He says “my parents played a big role to prepare me for this job. They raised me to learn everything and anything from anyone willing to teach me. But, I got advice from former Ranger James McClaffery and current Ranger Ann Wilson on the steps to take to becoming a park ranger.  They encouraged me to start as a park clerk and then enroll in college. And so, I did.”

Sammy officially joined the park service in 2019 as a sales clerk, became an Assistant Ranger in 2020, and then promoted to Off-Park Ranger in 2022. He is currently enrolled full-time in college and will be graduating this May with an Associates in Forestry Management and Marketing. “There was a point in time when I did not think I could handle being a park ranger and doing full-time school, but everyone at Myrtle Beach State Park cheered me on and kept me motivated. So, a huge shout-out to everyone who has helped me get to where I am now. You all are amazing!” he says.

As an Off-Park Ranger at Myrtle Beach State Park, Sammy coordinates the Host Program, manages vehicle logs and upkeep, ATV logs and upkeep, the guard facility, training new employees and regular park ranger duties such as maintenance, housekeeping, revenue and more. One of his favorite tasks is educating others about the park’s history and the vast array of plants and wildlife in the park.

We asked Ranger Sammy to share a funny story:

“This story is funny but so embarrassing. It was my second week as a park ranger, and I was the morning shift. I was getting ready to open the pier store, and I grabbed the starting change box and started to walk to the door. I looked up to enjoy the sunrise but forgot about the parking blocks in the parking lot. I tripped and fell and dropped almost everything out of the box! I spent the next 30 minutes with the pier staff picking up every coin. We managed to get everything while laughing so hard in the process.”

We also asked him about something difficult he deals with as a park ranger: 

“Being able to multitask. This is not a skill that you are born with. It takes a lot of time to learn how to multitask and as you work in the SC Park Service, you will see that that skill is not just the hardest to learn but is also use every day.”

For someone interested in becoming a park ranger, Sammy offered this advice:

“Take in as much knowledge as possible. Some of the information you gather might not be relevant at the time but, when the time comes, you will need it. I started out as a sales clerk and it took many tries to get where I am today. It takes time. Everything doesn’t happen in a day, and if you haven’t started on a degree, I recommend it. Having a degree in the related field not only gets you the education, but It also makes you a better ranger. One day a visitor will ask you a question about wildlife and it just so happens that you know the answer.”

Sammy is not yet an Ultimate Outsider but looks forward to visiting Table Rock State Park and Devils Fork State Park.

Thank you, Ranger Sammy, for your hard work and dedication to the state park service! To get a sneak peek of what a day in Ranger Sammy’s life is like, watch Episode 22 of our “Day in the Life” series.

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!