Friends Of Wind Cave NP

Wind Cave Superintendent
D Thompson

Leigh Welling Selected as Superintendent of Wind Cave National Park

Omaha, Neb. – National Park Service (NPS) Regional Director Herbert C. Frost announced the selection of Leigh Welling as the new superintendent of Wind Cave National Park located in Hot Springs, South Dakota. Welling will began serving in the position November 8, 2020.

“I am pleased to welcome Leigh as superintendent of Wind Cave National Park,” said Frost. “She is a seasoned manager with experience at park, regional and national levels. Her background in geology and personal history in the area will be a great asset for the park and will provide a basis for strong partnerships that can benefit current and future generations.”

“I’m so happy to be coming back to the Black Hills and Pine Ridge area,” Welling said about her new assignment. “Wind Cave National Park is truly special, for the wonders of the cave itself, for the unique mixed-grass prairie ecosystem it protects and for the historical, cultural and spiritual meaning it holds for many Native American tribes. I have vivid memories of time spent at Wind Cave when I was a child and feel a strong connection and sense of place to the people and the land here.”

Since 2015, Welling has worked for the Alaska Regional Office, first as the regional chief scientist and then as the associate regional director for science, communication, and partnerships. She began her career with the NPS in 2002 as director for the Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center at Glacier National Park in Montana. In 2007, Welling moved to Fort Collins, Colorado where she served as the national lead for climate change, eventually helping to establish and lead the NPS Climate Change Response Program in 2010.

Welling earned an undergraduate degree in Geology from the University of Colorado Boulder and a Masters and PhD in Oceanography from Oregon State University. Prior to her career in the NPS, she held positions at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where she worked on practices to increase diversity and inclusion in earth science curricula, and at the University of North Dakota, where she was director of the Regional Earth Science Applications Center.

Welling was born in Crawford, Nebraska, about 50 miles south of Hot Springs. She grew up as the youngest child in a ranching family and attended Trunk Butte, a country school outside of Chadron, Nebraska. She spent most of her childhood outdoors and riding horseback, activities that she still enjoys today.