Goose Creek ranger heads to Elk Knob

Published 12:32 am Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sandra Fambrough, a longtime ranger at Goose Creek State Park, has accepted a new position in the western part of North Carolina. She begins work at Elk Knob State Park, near Boone, on Monday. (WDN Photo/Kevin Scott Cutler)

GOOSE CREEK STATE PARK — Regular visitors to Goose Creek State Park will note the absence of a familiar face this week as longtime ranger Sandra Fambrough leaves for a new assignment in the western part of North Carolina.

Fambrough, the park’s lead interpretive and education ranger, will assume the same position Monday at Elk Knob State Park in Todd, located near Boone. She also will serve as volunteer coordinator there.

“Thanks to the community for almost seven years of programs,” Fambrough said shortly before her last day at Goose Creek. “I’ve enjoyed working with teachers and professors, schools and community organizations on camps and environmental field days.”

Fambrough, a native of the Halifax County town of Roanoke Rapids, came to Goose Creek in April 2005 as a seasonal assistant park ranger; she enjoyed the work so much that, during her off-season break, she enrolled in basic law-enforcement training.

“I fell in love with park work,” said Fambrough, who added that her co-workers then, Kelley Thompson and Phoebe Wahab, were somewhat responsible for her career choice.

Fambrough didn’t set out to be a park ranger. She attended Mars Hill College in western North Carolina and graduate school in Kentucky, earning two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree along the way. And she worked for 10 years in the ministry before donning the uniform of a park ranger.

Mentored by Thompson, who was superintendent at Goose Creek State Park at the time, Fambrough returned for a second year as a seasonal ranger before joining the park staff full-time. She said one of the facets of her job she has most loved was the planning and presentation of many of the educational programs Goose Creek State Park offers free to the public each weekend.

“I think the programs appeal to people of all ages,” Fambrough said, reflecting on the hands-on activities and nature hikes she enjoyed presenting. “They allow people to experience just the simple joy of nature. I especially like seeing young people when they have a ‘That’s cool’ kind of moment, when it’s not connected to any electronic device. I think the programs allow them to use their senses and to really experience the smells of nature, the sounds of nature. … There is just so much more to environmental education than a lecture within the confines of four walls.”

Fambrough’s husband, David, is a staff chaplain working with the East Carolina Heart Institute in Greenville. He plans on staying in the area. The Fambroughs’ dog, Buddy, a “hound-dog mix,” will relocate to Elk Knob with “mom.” The Fambroughs will take turns making the trek back and forth between eastern and western North Carolina.

Along with her interest in environmental-education programs, Fambrough has been involved in many different facets of life at Goose Creek State Park. Most recently, she worked with the park’s photography contest, holiday food drive for needy families and the annual holiday open house, during which she greeted visitors and presented a nature-themed story time for the enjoyment of the tots in attendance.