Ryan Warren, World Campus to the National Park Service
Visitors to Sullivan’s Island in South Carolina this summer can learn about the importance of Fort Moultrie in American history dating back to the Revolutionary War. Some of those guests to Fort Moultrie may meet Ryan Warren. Ryan is interning with the National Park Service in Charleston this summer to complete the degree requirements in Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management (RPTM) through Penn State’s World Campus.
Originally from Collegeville, Pennsylvania, Ryan and his fiancée Taylor moved to the Charleston area after she graduated from Penn State’s Abington campus and made plans to start a graduate degree at the College of Charleston. It was Taylor and her family whom Ryan describes as “all Penn Staters” who helped him find his way to Penn State and the World Campus.
“I was an average student in high school,” said Ryan. “Average grades. I didn’t know what I wanted to do.” He enrolled part-time at a local community college with plans to major in Marine Biology. “I quickly found out that science wasn’t my thing, although I excelled at the environmental courses and assignments.” He switched his major to Business and earned an Associates Degree in 2020. Enter Taylor, who encouraged Ryan to continue his career exploration and together they looked at majors available through Penn State’s World Campus. They found Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management, which Ryan says, “matched with my interests and my strengths.”
While working on his degree from South Carolina, Ryan took positions that not only paid the bills, but provided experience to help him narrow down his career interests. As a Beach Services Officer for Isle of Palms, South Carolina, Ryan assisted patrol officers, helped patrol the beach areas, and enforced city ordinances and parking. In August of 2021, he accepted a position within the Isle of Palms Police Department as the Animal Control officer. His understanding of wild life, local environmental issues, and experience with the residents and tourists have come in handy in his role with Animal Control. To meet the pre-internship hours requirement for the RPTM degree, Ryan volunteered around his full-time position, assisting with coordination and implementation of special events and programs within the Recreation Department of the City of Isle of Palms. All the while, Ryan worked with the World Campus and RPTM advisors to outline a plan for graduation and complete courses around his full-time job.
Ryan was accepted to one of the highly-coveted and competitive internships with the National Park Service at Fort Moultrie for summer 2023. In his position, he is assigned to both Fort Moultrie as well as Fort Sumter and the Charles Pinckney National Historic Site. According to the National Park Service, these important South Carolina landmarks were visited by almost 350,000 people in 2021. Ryan’s role with the National Park Service is to provide assistance to guests and to develop and lead education programs visitors both sites. “I’m gaining valuable experience in how to lead historical interpretation programs on top of my understanding of environmental aspects.” He continues to serve as an on-call Animal Control officer while interning full-time.
Upon completion of his internship, Ryan will graduate with his Bachelors degree from Penn State. He and Taylor hope to eventually return to the Philadelphia area to be closer to family, although Ryan said he will miss being able to play golf year around, a hobby he has picked up since moving to sunny South Carolina. His dream is to land position with a national or state park in Pennsylvania, such as Valley Forge. Ryan stated, “I hope to put my experience and Penn State degree to good use.” Congratulations, Ryan, on a job well done!