Meet the Team: Communications Coordinator Elizabeth Swails

May 18th, 2022

It's time to meet the team! Each month, we introduce you to a member of the Upstate Forever staff through a few rapid fire questions. This month, get to know Communications Coordinator Elizabeth Swails.

What do you enjoy most about working for Upstate Forever?
I love how much I am learning about my community and region. I really enjoy putting together pieces about the people, policies, and organizations who are making a conservation impact in the Upstate. There are so many rich stories this area has to tell, and I love helping unearth those stories and showcasing how they represent the natural assets we’re trying to protect and support.

What has been the most unexpected part of your role?
When I was interviewing for this job, I was told that the Communications team was the jack-of-all-trades in the organization. I’ve always thrived on having many projects to work on at once instead of doing the same thing all the time. I never expected to get to work on so many fascinating projects so quickly, and I love how they all serve the same end but require so many different strategies.

How long have you called the Upstate home?
With the exception of five years spent in North Carolina and some time spent in Georgia, I’ve lived the majority of my life in the Upstate region. I was born and raised in Greenville and attended Wofford College in Spartanburg. I also spent some time in Charleston, but Greenville has always been my true home. 

Where’s your favorite spot in the Upstate?
My favorite spot in the Upstate is Conestee Nature Preserve. It is such an amazing little slice of nature so close to my house. I love going there early on weekday mornings when it is virtually empty and seeing all the wildlife. My family and I spend a lot of time there searching for insects, plants, and animals drawn to the wetlands. 

What hobbies do you enjoy? 
I love gardening and building little urban habitats in my yard. We focus on planting as many native flowers and shrubs as we can, and we make sure our trees are always in good shape. We have lots of old oaks, pines, and cedars on our property that draw in owls and many other birds. There are nooks all around our yard for frogs, snakes, insects, birds, and small mammals. I love to watch them come and go, and I get so excited when I find a little paw print or other sign that someone stopped by our house while they were out foraging.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I don’t think I had a really defined idea of what I wanted to be, but I knew I wanted to help or work with animals somehow. I wasn’t great at science though, so I focused on subjects I excelled in like writing, language, and reading. Those aren’t the areas that usually come to mind when someone says they want to help animals, but it worked out so well for me to find a niche in communications and conservation. I think my kid-self would be happy with where I ended up.

More about Elizabeth

Elizabeth is a 5th generation Greenvillian who grew up hearing stories of the Upstate’s transformation. She graduated from Wofford College with a bachelor’s in English, from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington with a master’s in English, and from the University of Georgia with a PhD in English. For 10+ years, Elizabeth taught English composition and literature courses at all three schools, served as a writing consultant, and worked as a communications specialist. At Upstate Forever, she assists with marketing, communications, and advocacy strategies and initiatives.

When away from the office, Elizabeth can be found going on “bug hunts” in local nature preserves with her husband and young son, cultivating her urban garden with her dog and cat companions, and binging all the good TV shows she can find.

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