Host, Co-Creator and Writer
Patrick is the Emmy Award-winning host, co-creator and writer of the popular ETV nature program Expeditions with Patrick McMillan. For over 25 years, Patrick has worked as a professional naturalist, biologist and educator. His range of experience has concentrated on botany, though he is also well-respected through his work in ichthyology, herpetology and mammalogy. Patrick is a professional naturalist, the Glenn and Heather Hilliard Professor of Environmental Sustainability at Clemson University, where his is also a faculty member in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation, the director of the South Carolina Botanical Garden, the Bob Campbell Geology Museum and the Clemson Experimental Forest and an honorary member of the Clemson University Class of 1939.
Patrick received his B.S. in Biology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and his Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from Clemson University. He has twice been honored with the distinction of faculty excellence at Clemson and was the inaugural recipient of the Rowland P. Alston Sr. Award for Communication. In 2005, he was awarded the distinctions of Conservation Partner of the Year by the Partnership for the Blue Ridge, as well as Outstanding Classified Employee by Clemson University. He is a contributor to the book Life at the Water’s Edge, which won the 2005 Renewable Natural Resources Foundations Outstanding Achievement Award and has been selected to receive one of ten South Carolina Notable State Document Awards for 2005.
In addition to hosting Expeditions, Patrick spends his time at Clemson University fulfilling his teaching, outreach and curatorial duties. He also hosted a birding program on SCETV Radio's “Your Day” and is a frequent guest on other “Your Day” programs. As an expert speaker, he is in demand throughout the Southeast and nation and routinely gives more than 100 public presentations annually, including the prestigious Calhoun Lecture in January of 2009, the first Clemson faculty member invited to present this address. He has also given dozens of departmental seminars at universities throughout the region. Patrick is an active member of several organizations, including the South Carolina Association of Naturalists, the Southern Appalachian Botanical Society, the South Carolina Native Plant Society and the South Carolina Entomological Society.
Patrick’s intense interest in natural history began at a very young age. He attributes his memorization of thousands of scientific names to his grandmother, who would read to him animal kingdom and wildflower books when he was a young child, including the Latin names—quite a contrast to Dr. Seuss! He spent his early childhood in the Fakahatchee Strand and Big Cypress Swamp with his father and grandfather. When he was not out in the swamp, he was across the street from his Naples home at the Naples Zoo, also known as Jungle Larry’s, where he was such a common feature that the Mynah birds, as well as Larry’s wife, Jane, knew him by name! Patrick and his family moved to Alleghany County, North Carolina, in 1976, where he lived a few hundred feet off of the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 231. Alleghany County was a great place to grow up if you liked the company of plants and animals, but there were not many children in Patrick's neighborhood, thus making it difficult to build friendships. As a result, Patrick's childhood consisted of one long walk through the woods, punctuated by those annoying daily tasks like school and dinner. Every day was spent familiarizing himself with the rhythm and diversity of his neighborhood woods, fields and streams. By the time he entered the University of North Carolina, his explorations had already led to the documentation of plants formerly unknown in North Carolina.
During and after college, Patrick worked as an environmental consultant and field ecologist for UNC-Chapel Hill, Fairchild Tropical Gardens, KCI Technologies and R.J. Goldstein & Associates, a curator at the North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences and an eighth grade math and science teacher. He moved to Clemson, South Carolina, and joined the faculty of Clemson University in 2000. His research has taken him around the world in pursuit of new species of plants, and his areas of expertise are in sedge and begonia taxonomy, natural community ecology and conservation biology.
Patrick’s son, Nic, has been with him for all of his life’s adventures. From journeying through the Valley of Desolation to relentlessly exploring the swamps and savannas of the coastal plain in search of beaksedges, Nic's support has been the backbone of Patrick's career. Nic even has a keen interest in videography. Check out his salamander close-ups in Episode 8 of Expeditions. Interestingly enough, Nic may also be responsible for bringing skateboarding to Dominica. Nic is currently a graduate student at Clemson University, where he is pursuing a degree specializing in conservation biology that is focused on the ecological impacts of bison grazing in the Great Plains.