Little Pee Dee State Park Manager Wants To ‘Make Her Mark’ On Park

Little Pee Dee State Park’s park manager, Emily Nicholson, has been on the job for nearly a year now having started there in October 2019.

Nicholson has been a park ranger for a total of seven years, almost five of which have been with the South Carolina State Parks. Nicholson is from Seneca, SC, and graduated from Southern Wesleyan University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Recreation and Leisure. She said being in Dillon reminds her of her small hometown, and it makes it much easier being so far from home. “I am happy to be here,” said Nicholson, “and can’t wait to see the things we can accomplish here at Little Pee Dee State Park.”
She became interested in this career when she was in college and did an internship at the South Cove County Park. “During my summer there, I realized not many people get to be outside all day for the job and enjoy what they do,” Nicholson said. “From there, I was hired on full-time and started to learn what being a park ranger really was. The main thing that attracted me to this job was getting to be around the things I love as well as getting to meet people from different walks of life and make their visit as enjoyable as possible.”
There are several things that Nicholson likes about Little Pee Dee State Park. “Not many people are fortunate to have a State Park as their back yard like I do,” said Nicholson. “A few of my favorite things are paddling in my kayak on the 54-acre Lake Norton and walking my dog through the park.”
There is a great deal that the public can enjoy at the park, Nicholson said. The main attraction at the park is fishing. Little Pee Dee State Park has a 54-acre lake called Lake Norton in honor of the park’s first superintendent, LaFon Norton. They have a 1.75-mile nature trail called Beaver Pond Nature Trail. They also have two shelters that anyone can rent out for a birthday party or family cookout. If one is looking for more of an overnight adventure, they offer 32 campsites with power and water, 18 tent sites with just water, and one rustic camper cabin. With all of this, “There are things for everyone to enjoy,” Nicholson said.
COVID-19 has somewhat affected the park. “For us at the park, we still offer our great customer service but now just with a distance and wearing a mask with a smile behind it,” said Nicholson. “We are operating normal hours and are working diligently on getting our boat rental operation opened back up with the proper sanitation guidelines in place. This is so our guests can enjoy a paddle on the lake, but can also take comfort in knowing we are doing our best to protect our employees and guests from the virus.”
“Currently, we do not have any events planned at the park due to restrictions from COVID-19, but as soon as we are able to, we look forward to having some good old-fashioned campfire and smores nights in the campground with the campers,” Nicholson continued.
As far as the current plans for the park, Nicholson said plans include working on campsite renovations and general park beautification. “Also, another goal of mine was to get more involved with community,” Nicholson said. “We participate in the monthly Farmer’s Market, work with the Yellow Jessamine Garden Club on projects in the park such as the installation of two bird houses at the park (which was recently featured in The Dillon Herald).” She also serves on the Dillon County Chamber of Commerce Board.