Ranger Thomas Doherty III
Park Service Profiles
Meet Ranger Thomas Doherty III. Tom grew up in Massachusetts before moving to Clemson with his family when he was 14. After graduating from Clemson University with a degree in Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management, he worked for a year in the Clemson Outdoor Lab, which prepared him for his career as a Park Ranger. “I’ve always had a love of nature and wildlife, and it played a big part in growing up to be who I am today,” he said. Tom wants to help others experience the things he loves, so when the opportunity to become a park ranger presented itself, he took it.
Thomas began his career with the South Carolina State Park Service in 2019 at Devils Fork State Park as an Off-Park Ranger before moving into his current position as a Ranger II at Chester State Park in 2021. As a park ranger, no two days are the same. Tom performs many roles at Chester, including Program Coordinator, Campground Host Coordinator, Safety Officer, as well as overseeing the office, retail and facility reservations. One of his favorite tasks is cutting tree limbs in the park. Tom says this serves the dual purpose of making the park a safer place for the public to enjoy as well as making it more aesthetically pleasing. “I ensure that the park remains a clean and safe environment for the public to enjoy and do my part to make sure it is something that both the park service and the town of Chester can be proud of,” he says.
As a park ranger, sometimes safety means much more than pruning trees. Tom spoke of a difficult situation where he had to act quickly to locate an armed individual who was seeking help, while also ensuring the safety of staff and visitors in attendance until emergency services arrived. Due to the swift and discreet actions of staff, no one was harmed in this situation and the individual was able to receive care.
Thomas recalled a favorite memory where he was interacting with campground guests. The guests had some concerns about bears, and while Tom provided information on bear safety, he also cautioned smaller animals. Before he could explain further, three squirrels dropped out of a tree and onto the picnic table before running off with the snacks that had just been laid out. Tom said they all made light of the situation, but it was a memory they would not soon forget.
Out of the parks he has worked for, Tom says that it is difficult to pick a favorite between the two and that they were both great for different reasons. Tom is not yet an Ultimate Outsider but looks forward to visiting Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site and Hunting Island State Park.
For someone interested in becoming a park ranger, Tom's advice is to research different parks, since being a park ranger can mean different things in different places. Likewise, different parks have different responsibilities and day-to-day tasks. Tom suggests that you find your “why” for becoming a park ranger, and then find parks that can fulfill that feeling. He says, “If you can do that, the park will be every bit as beneficial to you as you are to it.”
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