February 2020 Park Angel of the Month: Rick Dorrance

For many, volunteering with The Conservancy is an opportunity to give back to the community through stewardship of our local parks. Volunteers help to plant, prune and weed garden beds and learn skills to become expert gardeners along the way. Another added benefit of volunteering in our Garden in Parks Program is that it promotes healthy physical activity and exercise.

“When you hit your senior years and you don’t stay physically active then you’re asking for trouble,” said Rick Dorrance. “I really enjoy staying active and volunteering with the Conservancy helps me to do that. It’s a great motivator to dig holes, pull weeds, and plant new horticulture.”

After retiring, Rick earned his wings as a Park Angel. “I began volunteering at Colonial Lake. I wasn’t there for the grand re-opening of the Lake, but there was plenty of work to do when I joined,” said Rick. In his first year with Garden in the Parks, Charleston was hit by Hurricane Matthew in October of 2016. Colonial Lake suffered flooding with several feet of salt water that devastated plantings all around the park. “In the wake of the hurricane we pulled out thousands of dead plants, but we were able to plant thousands more.”

Before retiring, Rick worked as a Historic Preservationist for the National Parks Service right here in Charleston where he helped manage several famous sites including Fort Moultrie, Castle Pinckney, Fort Sumter and others. “You could say I’m familiar with keeping outdoor areas in good condition and I’m still doing that today,” said Rick. Through his love of gardening and exercise outdoors, Rick is able to maintain his Charleston lifestyle.

“The Park Angels and the Conservancy staff were welcoming from day one,” Rick shared. “The horticulture team of Kellen, Paul, and Patrick are very knowledgeable and they do a great job at keeping myself and other volunteers very happy.”

You can catch Rick volunteering at Colonial Lake, Allan Park, the Rose Pavilion, and many others for Garden in the Parks. In his freetime Rick also enjoys writing historical fiction novels set in Charleston.

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