Assistant Manager Elise Wingo

Park Service Profiles

Meet Elise Wingo, the Assistant Manager of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area. At 32 years old, Elise has a diverse family of a dog, two cats, a snake, and a toad. A native of Wellford, SC, near Spartanburg, Elise's upbringing was filled with outdoor adventures. She says: “Growing up my parents took us hiking at Table Rock, swimming at Devils Fork, and primitive camping at Jones Gap. I credit this for instilling the love that I have for parks!”

Elise holds a Bachelors in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management, with a minor in Forest Resource Management from Clemson University. With nearly 10 years of service with SC State Parks, she brings a wealth of knowledge to her role.

Elise's journey into park management began with internships as an interpreter, but she found her true calling when she took a position as an assistant ranger. “I ended up taking a job at Kings Mountain as an assistant ranger and immediately loved it too much to do anything else,” she says.

Her upbringing on a small farm and diverse work experiences shaped her into the jack-of-all-trades ranger she is today.

“I was raised on a small farm in the middle of nowhere, always outside, building things, and satiating my curiosity of our natural world. Before this career I also had a variety of jobs that made me into the jack-of-all-trades type of person that so many rangers are. Some of these jobs included landscaping at the SC Botanical gardens, working in historic houses, and internships at various agencies including Greenville County Recreation and Highlands Biological Station. Lastly my education at Clemson really delved into the inner workings of public lands, management strategies, and resource knowledge.”

Elise's ranger career has taken her through various parks and positions, including assistant ranger roles at Kings Mountain and Paris Mountain, program coordinator at Edisto Beach, and ranger positions at Aiken and Santee. She served as Senior Ranger at Baker Creek before assuming her current role at Mountain Bridge, which includes Jones Gap and Caesars Head state parks.

As an Assistant Manager, Elise coordinates staff and oversees the completion of larger maintenance projects. Working alongside the Park Manager, she enjoys the challenges and rewards that come with managing a large wilderness area.

Some of Elise’s favorite things are interacting with visitors and spearheading projects: “I love talking to visitors who value, enjoy, and respect our protected public lands. However, I also very much enjoy tackling projects and feel proud seeing the difference we are able to make to the park and the visitor experience.”

Elise shares lighthearted stories, particularly around Halloween when the team indulges in pranks, like hiding rubber mice, snakes, and spiders in unexpected places. One memorable surprise was encountering mannequins dressed in ranger uniforms lurking in the maintenance shop.

Edisto Beach State Park stands out as the most fun park for Elise, where wildlife encounters and sea turtle programs created unforgettable memories. Leaving beloved parks for promotions has been the most challenging aspect of her career.

Elise encourages those who love the outdoors, people, and problem-solving to consider a career as a park ranger. For aspiring rangers, she recommends volunteering: “I would recommend getting hands on experience through volunteering. Parks always have a need for volunteers and it’s a great way to understand the scope of what we actually do. Some of it may surprise you!”

With only a handful of parks remaining until she becomes an Ultimate Outsider, Elise has a hard time picking a favorite.

"Unfortunately, I am not yet an Ultimate Outsider, I have about 5 parks left. I’m not sure that I can pick a favorite, there are so many awe-inspiring aspects that make our parks special. Somehow, I have yet to visit the Battle of Musgrove Mill State Historic Site and I look forward to getting the chance to learn a bit of American history while enjoying the sounds of the river and the wildlife."

Thank you, Elise, for all of your hard work and dedication! Spend some time with Elise at Jones Gap State Park in Episode 31 of our “Day in the Life” series.

Think you might be interested in a job with the South Carolina State Park Service? Click here to see our current, full-time job openings!