ROBESON COUNTY, NC (WMBF) It all started with a river, the Lumber River, a source of food, transportation and money. It was a source of life for many communities in Robeson County.
Today that river is still an important part of life in Robeson County, and for some, a source of education. And there's no better way to learn about the river and surrounding areas than through the park ranger at the Lumber River State Park.
Park Ranger Eric Siratt welcomes visitors to the park that contains about 115 miles of river and 9,000 acres of park lands.
"I enjoy being outside and enjoy doing work out here. It changes every day. One day I might be doing an educational program, and then I'm in the river cutting trees and the next I'm out here picking up trash. You never know," Siratt said.
When Storm Team Meteorologist Rob Hatchell caught up with Lumber River State Park rangers they were talking to elementary school fifth graders.
"Who thinks the snake is wet? He's not wet. No, he's not oily. He's dry as he can be," said Park Ranger John Privette to the school kids.
"Now this is a beaver. What's that big tail for?" Privette inquired from the students.
There's no doubt there park rangers love what they do and believe in their jobs.
Privette said, "I noticed now a days kids are inside a lot. One of my biggest things is trying to get kids out, out in nature. It's something other than sitting at home, watching tv or playing Playstation or Xbox. It's something good for them to get out, get some exercise and recreate."
And there's plenty for kids to do with 115 miles of river and 9000 acres of park land.
"We also advertise programs throughout the Spring, Summer and Fall months. Caneoing programs, wildlife programs fishing programs, anything you can think of. Historical programs, we have a lot of different programs," Privette added.
"In my opinion, this is a hidden gem. We have a lot of people who stop by for the first time and you will always see them come back out," Privette said.
The park rangers aren't the only ones who see the beauty in the area.
Peter Ahart, a teacher at Rex-Rennert Elementary said, "This is great. I've only been in the area for a little while but its just a great resource. It's not only for the schools but for the community."
When asked he'd ever come back to the Lumber River State Park, Ahart replied, "Oh definitely, I plan on it."