Sycamore Shoals welcomes new ranger to the park

Published 5:46 pm Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park has a new, yet familiar, face roaming the park grounds.
Earlier this year, the Park received funds from the state for the creation of a new Park Ranger position. Corbin Hayslett recently joined the staff at Sycamore Shoals at the newest ranger at the park, but he is no stranger to either the staff or the park. Last summer, Hayslett worked as a Seasonal Interpretive Ranger at the park assisting with offering different programs throughout the busy summer months.
For Hayslett, a Virginia native, working for a park is in his blood. Both his father and step-mother work for the National Park Service and he has spent much of his life working at parks as well.
“I’ve worked in state parks, city parks, and national parks for about 10 years now,” Hayslett said.
His first job with a local park came at the Appomattox Courthouse National Historic Park, the famed site where the Civil War was ended.
“I was 11 when I started at Appomattox,” he said. “I grew up living in two different State Parks in Virginia.”
Hayslett earned his bachelor’s degree in American History with a focus on regional history from the University of Virginia at Wise. He is currently working on a Masters Degree in Appalachian Studies at East Tennessee State University.
With a passion for both history and the park service, Sycamore Shoals became a natural fit for Hayslett. Many of the events that occurred at Sycamore Shoals have a profound significance not only to regional history but the history of the nation as well, Hayslett said, citing things such as the westward expansion and military actions.
“I love to get people reacquainted with, or more acquainted with, their regional history and help them learn and appreciate the history that is in their own backyards,” he said.
Hayslett feels that his experience working as a Seasonal Interpretive Ranger last summer along with his background in history have helped prepare him for the job at Sycamore Shoals. He looks forward to continuing some of the park’s existing programs and helping to expand the park’s offerings as well.
“We’ve got a lot of new projects coming up and hopefully some new special events for next year as well,” he said.
Among the plans for the park are a new wildlife habitat area and additional interpretive programs that take advantage of the park’s nature trail along the banks of the Watauga River. Hayslett said he is also excited for the creation of a new site-specific Junior Ranger Program that will not only provide the children the opportunity to take part in outdoor events but will also help educate them about the history of the area.
Hayslett also enjoys leading programs dealing with colonial music. He plays the fiddle, banjo, mandolin, and base.
“I’ve been playing traditional Appalachian music for about 14 years,” he said. “I started when I was a young pup.”
During his time at UVA-Wise, Hayslett played with the school’s bluegrass band and was able to play a tour in Europe. He has also played in Canada and performed on stage at the Grand Ol’ Opry with Jesse McReynolds.
No matter what the program is though, Hayslett enjoys working at the park and helping people get in touch with history.
“I’m really excited to be here and I look forward to connecting with the community,” he said.

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