Seasonal Rangers: Kitts, Wolfe describe experience working at Roan Mountain State Park

Published 5:10 pm Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Consider it the perfect combination.
With record crowds flocking to the area, Roan Mountain State Park staff, including the two newest additions — Bailey Kitts and Chloe Wolfe — don’t often see a breather. But when they do, it serves as a perfect time to reflect on the one-of-a-kind experience in Carter County.
Kitts and Wolfe serve in the capacity of Seasonal Interpretive Rangers (SIRs) at the state park, assisting in a variety of duties with rangers on site. During a quick break Wednesday morning, the duo talked about their experience serving in the summer.
Kitts, a junior at Maryville College, and Wolfe, recent graduate of East Tennessee State University, added the experience to take part in the program seemed enjoyable at first, but quickly surpassed expectations arriving on site of Tennessee State Parks’ Park of the Year recipient for 2016.
“Why hadn’t I been up here before,” Wolfe said with a laugh when asked about her first thoughts coming to the park.
“One of my first thoughts was the fact of how well it was run and how many people knew about it,” Kitts added.
A key component of being an SIR is organizing events for attendees to go with the schedule already in place at a state park.
“We do our own programs, too,” Kitts said. “They are on a much smaller scale of course. We’re lucky because we get to do what we want to do. We get to teach about the things we enjoy. I like teaching about fireflies so we held a firefly program. Chloe held a program about tomahawk throwing. Our programs are on a weekly basis. But when it comes to Independence Day, Junior Ranger Camp or the Rhododendron Festival, (Park Ranger) Meg (Guy), (Park Manager) J.R. (Tinch) and all of the other rangers have planned these events out and we get to help.”
The camaraderie between the two adds a perfect balance when it comes to organizing events.
“I majored in Anthropology, so we’re kind of opposite ends of the spectrum,” Wolfe said. “But together, it’s great. She’s got the natural aspect and I’ve got the history side.”
While providing their own programs, the duo can be seen throughout the park assisting rangers on site with multiple activities.
“It’s been great,” Kitts said about working alongside the staff. “J.R. has been great. Meg serves as our direct supervisor and she’s been amazing.” The sentiment was quickly seconded by Wolfe.
Wednesday was a bit of a game-planning day to decipher through potential program ideas. But with the scheduling comes preparation for next week’s Junior Ranger Camp, an ever popular attraction at the park.
“It actually filled up during the first two hours of being open,” Wolfe said. “Nobody was expecting it to fill up that fast.”
Kitts added the preparation does entail a bit of work.
“Junior Ranger Camp is 30 kids, between the ages of eight and 12 years old, and they’ll be coming to the park for half-days for a full week,” she said. “We’ll have a lot of active games to keep the campers entertained but we’re also going to be stressing the message of fire safety, trail safety and other important things when it comes to the state park.”
But just like their counterparts, the duo wouldn’t have it any other way. The love of the profession was apparent as the duo discussed recent programs, including Kitts’ love of ornithology coming alive during a constellation program.
“I’ve really enjoyed this experience,” Kitts said. “It’s great to share my passion of biology that was passed down by my professors with kids, parents and the public. Picking the programs, whether it be stream health, population control … these are things people may know but fascinate me.
“I would love to stay in state park service for as long as I can,” Wolfe added. “This has been one of those experiences where I didn’t know how much I wanted it until I got the opportunity to do it.”
The duo both thanked each of the responsible parties that got them involved with the Carter County park and added there’s excitement moving forward working in state park service.
To learn more about Roan Mountain State Park, visit or call (423) 772-0190.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox