One of my goals is to inspire others to become stewards of Congaree and the many other special places we have in our amazing country.
Carol Gist loves the great outdoors. She also loves greeting and educating people about the outdoors in her hometown of Columbia, South Carolina. As a volunteer at Congaree National Park Carol is involved in just about every facet of the park’s visitor services division. She helps lead strenuous wilderness canoe tours into the park’s backcountry; she independently operates the park’s visitor center; leads guided hikes and tours; and works behind the scenes to help park staff improve the quality of the park’s public programs.
“The National Park system is very important to the fabric of our country,” Carol said. “The park system is about where we have been and where we are going. It is about preserving the great natural areas in our country, but also preserving our history and culture.”
Carol shares information with people from all over the world. she answers questions about what they might see while visiting the park, and after they've had a chance to hike one of the many trails or paddle the creek, she helps explain what they’ve just seen and experienced. Carol also conducts guided tours and helps staff booths in the park and at special events. One of Carol’s favorite volunteer activities is providing assistance on ranger-guided canoe tours on Cedar Creek. But most of all, Carol loves that she is constantly learning about our amazing natural world and can share her knowledge and love of the land with park visitors.
“One of my goals is to inspire others to become stewards of Congaree and the many other special places we have in our amazing country,” she said.
Carol grew up the daughter of an Air Force dad, moving many times, eventually settling in South Carolina. She received degrees from the University of South Carolina and the University of Texas at Austin and taught Spanish for 34 years.
“I always thought I would volunteer once I retired, but after being around an inspiring group of Sierra Club volunteers, I thought why wait until I retire?” Carol said. “I began volunteering at Conagree in 2007 and have enjoyed every moment of my service.” In the last few years, she has volunteered more than 4,000 hours of her time in the park system, educating visitors not only about the park, but about stewardship of resources and the interconnectedness of all living things. She loves having the opportunity to meet and interact with park visitors not only from the US but from around the world.
In her free time Carolenjoys reading and local art, theater, music and athletics. She also loves to travel and teach aquatic fitness classes. Carol jokes that she has never met a Cabot Cheddar that she doesn’t like but confesses that her all-time favorite is Cabot’s Tomato Basil Cheddar.
This will be Carol’s second Community Celebrity Cruise having been honored by Cabot on the 2017 cruise to Alaska. Joining Carol will be her college friend, Linda Bailey.