Ranger Skyler Atkinson
Park Service Profiles
Meet Ranger Skyler Atkinson! Skyler was born and raised in Sumter, South Carolina, and later moved to Lugoff with his family. He graduated from Lugoff-Elgin High School in 2019 and attended Central Carolina Technical College where he would obtain his Associates Degree in Natural Resources Management.
While Skyler was in college, he worked as a summer employee at Sesquicentennial State Park. He says that it only took him a few weeks to realize he wanted to be a park ranger. He started his career as an assistant park ranger at Sesquicentennial and Goodale State Park before being promoted to Ranger I at the Battle of Rivers Bridge State Historic Site and Barnwell State Park. More recently, Skyler was promoted to Ranger II at Sesquicentennial.
When we asked Ranger Skyler how he prepared for his career as a park ranger, he said he learned as much as he could from other rangers. “My biggest form of preparation was learning everything I could from the rangers I worked with during my first summer in the parks. Whether it was learning administrative duties or maintenance skills, I was sure to learn as much as I possibly could.”
As a park ranger, you have to learn how to manage a variety of situations, which can be difficult. Skyler noted that as a park ranger, you are the first responder in your park. Park rangers do everything from assisting lost or injured visitors to post-storm cleanup. Each day in the park service is different, and you have to be prepared to respond appropriately.
We asked Ranger Skyler about some of his favorite things about his job, and he said interacting with visitors and working on maintenance projects.
“What satisfies me the most is being able to make an impression on our visitors. Whether it be from having a small conversation with a visitor or from seeing someone enjoy our park, that will always be the most satisfying thing to me. My favorite duty is getting to work on our maintenance projects we have between both parks. These projects can range from trimming back limbs on the canoe trail at Goodale, to making improvements to our campground here at Sesqui. I like to be able to look at these finished projects and be able to say I had a hand in completing them.”
Skyler says that each park that he has worked at has been fun, but he has most enjoyed working at smaller parks, like Goodale and Barnwell, because you really get a chance to make connections with your staff. “After a while you start to realize you have more fun at work than anywhere else,” he says.
Skyler says that he would encourage others to become a park ranger because it “is the one of the most fun and rewarding careers there is to offer. It gives you a chance to see and try new things as well as a chance to enjoy the environment around you.” The best piece of advice he can give is to visit your local state park and talk to the staff that work there. He noted that this could also help someone get their foot in the door! “Another piece of advice I would give would be is that being a park ranger is a very demanding job. We work long hours, weeks and even holidays. So, you have to be committed to this career and love what you do!”
Thank you, Ranger Skyler, for your hard work and dedication to the state park service. To see what a day in Ranger Skyler’s life is like, watch Episode 17 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!