Park Ranger Patrick Boxx
Park Ranger Patrick Boxx
Leaving An Impact
Patrick Boxx grew up in Ninety Six, SC, a few miles down the road from Lake Greenwood State Park. In his early teens, while assisting in the search for a missing hiker at Paris Mountain State Park, he knew being a park ranger was his life’s goal.
“I remember seeing the ranger in charge of the search and was awed by his professionalism and how collected he was,” Boxx said. “I knew right then that being a ranger in the park service was what I wanted to be.”
Boxx attended The Citadel in Charleston, studying political science and later transferred to Lander University in Greenwood where he earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and anthropology.
His first job with South Carolina State Park Service came in 2005 when he was hired as a Park Technician at McCalla State Natural Area on Lake Russell. He performed routine maintenance and upkeep of the park’s buildings, grounds and several boat access areas on the lake.
His next assignment was Lake Greenwood as a Ranger I, where, in addition to maintenance, his duties included collecting and tracking park revenue, operating the Drummond Building, and assisting campers and fishermen.
Now a Ranger II at Chester State Park, his role has expanded to include budget tracking, registering campers, instructing Scouts and church groups, and conducting park programs.
“I don’t believe anyone can be fully prepared to be a park ranger. The skills needed are so diverse and encompassing that you can’t focus preparation in one area” Boxx said.
“I’ve learned that as a ranger you have to be a ‘jack of all trades.’ The learning process never ends, and that’s what makes this profession so great.”
Boxx finds immense satisfaction in his job, especially when he completes a large project on the park. “To look back on your work and know that you took part in something that generations of park visitors will use and enjoy makes the job that more rewarding,” he said.
“It’s also satisfying to know you’ve made a difference in a park visitor’s experience – whether it’s as small as giving directions to a nearby town, helping a visitor start a campfire or lending a hand towing a boat on a windy day. That positive connection with the public is priceless.”
One of the funniest things to happen to Boxx occurred during a job interview. A bird repeatedly flew headfirst into the window close to where he was sitting, making a terrible noise and interrupting the process. “This went on for the entire interview until the poor bird finally knocked itself out just as the interviewer asked what I could bring to the park if hired,” he said.
“Realizing the bird’s buzz could wear off to at any moment, I pointed to it and quickly said, ‘I can make a difference by bringing a diversity of skills, and while I do have some knowledge of park repairs, I don’t know if I can fix the problem with that bird.’”
He didn’t get the job.
Boxx’s Park Experience
Of the parks in which he has worked, Boxx found each one a favorite in its own unique way. “I found McCalla’s ecology pristine and the land historically rich. Lake Greenwood offered the chance to meet countless campers and to interact with the public on a larger scale. And the compact size of Chester allows me to get my hands into all aspects of managing and maintaining a park.”
Would he encourage others to become a ranger? “I most certainly would,” said Boxx. “The profession allows for variety in the workplace and a diversity of skill sets I don’t believe another job can offer. It is unique in the way it allows you to enjoy working outdoors as well as inside, to preserve and protect the state’s natural and historic resources, and for the opportunity to make a family’s campout one that provides memories to last a lifetime.”
Asked to sum up his job, Boxx said, “Never underestimate even the smallest gesture you make when it comes to customer service. You can never be aware of the lasting impact it may have.”
Patrick Boxx has since been promoted to a Senior Ranger at Santee State Park.