Hello, my name is Sam Sweeney and I’m the Park Manager of Kiptopeke State Park. My career goal of becoming a park ranger originated while I was in the Boy Scouts of America. As a scout, I was active helping potential Eagle Scout candidates with their projects. Many of these happened to occur on national and state park and forest lands. These glimpses into a park ranger’s life made me realize my own desire to work outside, helping protect the natural resources of our lands while meeting new people.
Talking with the park rangers assigned to oversee our candidates’ projects about their careers provided me the understanding needed to enter this distinguished profession. I took that knowledge to college, receiving degrees in Forestry-Outdoor Recreation and History from Virginia Tech. It took several interviews with Virginia State Parks to land my first position, but the wait was worth it.
Over the years, my career has taken me from state parks in the coalfields of Southwest Virginia (Southwest Virginia Museum & Natural Tunnel) to the highest elevated state park in Virginia (Grayson Highlands) to the coast of Virginia’s Eastern Shore (Kiptopeke). It’s been close to two decades now as a park ranger, but my life as the Park Manager of Kiptopeke State Park is as challenging today as it was my first day, eight years ago. I’m proud to be part of an organization that not only is celebrating its 75th birthday this year, but continues to exceed the dreams of a Boy Scout's formed years ago.