Welcome to our 2016 AmeriCorps cohort!

Lindsey Carver
The Conservation Fund

Lindsey serves as the AmeriCorps community outreach and volunteer coordinator in support of a partnership between The Conservation Fund, Conservation Trust for North Carolina and North Carolina Community Development Initiative. She will focus her efforts on the A.M. Howard Farm pilot project in Cary in partnership with the Piedmont Conservation Council. After graduating from the College of William & Mary, Lindsey served her first AmeriCorps term with Rebuilding Together Alexandria in northern Virginia. Upon moving to the Triangle, Lindsey began studying and practicing sustainable and urban agriculture. She recently graduated with a master’s degree in agricultural education from North Carolina A&T State University and seeks to support the development of sustainable food systems in the Triangle through outreach and education. Outside of AmeriCorps, Lindsey enjoys photography and spending time outside with her husband, Kevin Howell, and their rescue dog Azure.

Noel Myers
UNC Environmental Finance Center

Noel Myers is an AmeriCorps member who joined the Environmental Finance Center (EFC) in 2016. He is developing environmental finance curricula to be taught to local students and community members, aiming to increase interest in finance as a positive catalyst to environmental improvement. Prior to joining AmeriCorps and the EFC, Noel attended Oberlin College where he received a B.A. in economics and environmental studies. He has previous experience working with revolving loan funds, socially responsible investing and local carbon offsetting initiatives while studying at Oberlin.

Nina Quaratella
North Carolina Coastal Federation

Nina is serving AmeriCorps as a coastal community engagement specialist at the North Carolina Coastal Federation’s Wrightsville Beach office. Nina earned her Bachelor of Science in environmental science with a double minor in biology and geospatial technologies from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Originally from Rhode Island, Nina fell in love with coastal North Carolina and is working to create educational programs, organize volunteer events, and conduct habitat restoration for the community to help protect the state’s beaches. Prior to serving with AmeriCorps, Nina was an intern at Carolina Beach State Park and Cape Fear River Watch and later worked seasonal environmental education jobs both down south and in the northeast. Nina enjoys playing volleyball, geocaching, hiking and traveling.

Barbara Goldentyer
Triangle Land Conservancy

Barbara Goldentyer is hosted with the Triangle Land Conservancy coordinating and running nature education programs. From Cary, N.C., Barbara previously worked at Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve where she designed and ran nature education classes and summer camps. Barbara completed her bachelor’s degree at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina. In 2015, she also earned her master’s degree in sociology from N.C. State University with a concentration in social inequalities. She enjoys hiking, traveling and finding animals outside.

Ashley Toscano
Alliance Medical Ministry

Originally from northern Virginia and the panhandle of West Virginia, Ashley moved to North Carolina in 2014. She received a B.A. in international studies and Spanish from West Virginia University and a master’s in Hispanic studies at Virginia Tech. Although fascinated by different languages and cultures, Ashley has always had a passion for animal rights advocacy, health and the environment. Through courses and involvement with school organizations and volunteer opportunities, she realized that she wanted to serve in a position which would foster these passions, all while enabling her to gain skills within those fields. Having served as a member in AmeriCorps’ Energy Express program, she knew she’d find great opportunities through CTNC. She is now working at Alliance Medical Ministry in Raleigh where she oversees their community garden and various wellness programs. This position helps to improve the community’s health by providing exposure to agriculture in an urban setting where there is limited access to fresh, local and organic produce. After completing her term of service she hopes to continue helping others to find a passion for growing the food they eat while nourishing their bodies and the environment with love and wellness.

Chris Sajdak
Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association

Chris Sajdak is ECWA’s new AmeriCorps service member. He is a Michigan native and is coming to Durham by way of Indiana. He has a B.A. in geography – GIS from Indiana University and assisted in research in both food sustainability and dendroclimatology. While in school, Chris worked as a trip leader both at his university and at a summer camp, leading children and adults on extended backpacking, canoeing and rock-climbing trips around the country. During his service, Chris will be providing environmental education to the areas within the Ellerbe Creek watershed, in addition to working with event planning, outreach and as general support for ECWA.

Erica Connery
North Carolina Coastal Federation

Erica is serving as a coastal community engagement specialist at the North Carolina Coastal Federation’s Manteo office. Growing up in Hillsborough, North Carolina, she has always been drawn to the coast, making frequent trips to the beach with family and friends whenever possible. Since completing her degree in environmental science from N.C. State in 2012, she has lived in several places along the Carolina coast pursuing the field of environmental education. In 2016, Erica became an AmeriCorps member at the Coastal Federation. She is excited to explore the northeast coast of North Carolina and work with communities in the area, hoping to inspire students to appreciate and enjoy the outdoors as much as she did as a child. When she’s not teaching others about coastal environments, she loves hanging out with her dog and paddle boarding around the marsh.

Elaine Nichols
Tar River Land Conservancy

Elaine Nichols is a CTNC AmeriCorps member serving as a land management associate with Tar River Land Conservancy.  She will be working to prepare TRLC’s Ledge Creek Forest Conservation Area for public access. She recently returned to North Carolina after serving her first AmeriCorps term as an assistant crew leader for a conservation corps based out of Denver, Colorado. Before that, she earned her B.S. in environmental studies from University at Buffalo with a dual concentration in policy education and resource management. Elaine has always considered North Carolina home and she is excited to be back in the area to share her excitement for conservation and community service.

Shalanda Grier
Piedmont Regional Triad Council

Shalanda is serving with the Piedmont Regional Triad Council as the outreach & Stormwater SMART coordinator. She will serve 19 municipalities, providing educational programs, presentations and content pertaining to stormwater and water quality. She recently graduated from Hampton University, earning a B.S. in biology and a minor in leadership studies. As a North Carolina native, Shalanda has always been involved in community service. She sees her service as an AmeriCorps member as another avenue to expand her reach to meet community needs. Shalanda enjoys reading, hiking, exercising and watching HGTV in her free time.

Laura Speer
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

Laura serves at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences as the environmental accessibility & inclusion AmeriCorps member. She coordinates, develops and teaches programs for special populations within the community. She hopes to inspire everyone to be a leader of environmental change by giving them an appreciation for nature and showing that scientific knowledge is accessible to all. In her spare time, Laura enjoys books, long hikes and backpacking trips, concerts and hanging out with snakes.

Larissa Lopez
Balsam Mountain Trust

Larissa is the CTNC AmeriCorps member at Balsam Mountain Trust serving as educational outreach coordinator. She is working to provide accessible environmental education to school children and the public throughout Jackson and Haywood counties in Western North Carolina. Through the Adopt-a-School program, Larissa delivers live-animal programming to 4th and 5th graders that supplements their biological and environmental sciences curriculum. She is also expanding on pollinator programs, with an emphasis on monarchs, for 1st and 2nd-grade students to engage them in an outdoor classroom environment and citizen science. Larissa will also be translating programs into Spanish for Latino school children and families who would otherwise not have access to the material. Larissa holds a B.S. in natural resources with a concentration in ecosystem assessment and a minor in forest management from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina. She enjoys hiking, reading, traveling, yoga and live music.

Melissa Keeney
Durham Public Schools Hub Farm

Melissa left her hometown in Maryland to study environmental technology & management at N.C. State University in 2009 and has been working towards making communities around the Triangle more sustainable ever since. Her true passion lies with the local food movement and she’s ecstatic to have the opportunity to serve with student groups at the Durham Hub Farm. In addition to teaching students about local food production and environmental stewardship, she has been conducting community outreach to recruit volunteers and develop partnerships, scheduling student and volunteer groups, coordinating monthly workdays, creating monthly newsletters, and assisting in developing a core curriculum for the farm. Melissa is an artist and musician on the side and is excited to be showcasing her work around Durham this year!

Erin Victor
Keep Durham Beautiful

A Michigan native, Erin Victor is serving as the environmental outreach and volunteer coordinator at Keep Durham Beautiful. Erin recently completed her M.S. in conservation ecology at the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE) at the University of Michigan and has a B.A. in health sciences with a concentration in environmental sciences from Kalamazoo College. Her thesis research looked at the influence of livestock grazing on vertebrate diversity in Naxos, Greece. Prior to graduate school, Erin worked on a human-elephant conflict project in Ruaha National Park in Tanzania with Wildlife Connections. Erin is passionate about environmental conservation and environmental education.

Paige Engelbrektsson
Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust

Paige is serving as an environmental education and stewardship AmeriCorps member with Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust. She is a Virginia native and graduated in 2012 with a B.S. in biology from the College of William and Mary. Since then she has put her degree to good use ranging across the country to work in environmental education. In addition to assisting with HCLT’s Kids in Nature programs, she will be building trails and creating a new ambassador program to reach visitors. She spends any free time making music and crafts, riding horses and exploring wild spaces.

Rachel Tove-White
Durham Public Schools

Rachel serves as one of two AmeriCorps members for the Durham Public School’s energy and sustainability coordinator. Her efforts will be focused on implementing recycling into Durham’s 30 elementary schools along with other energy and sustainability projects. Prior to this service term, Rachel attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she graduated with a double major in environmental studies and communication studies and a minor in city and regional planning. During her time at UNC, Rachel studied coastal energy at the Outer Banks of North Carolina and alternative energy strategies and urban designs in Germany, Sweden, and Denmark. She created documentaries at Pilot Mountain as well as in Germany and Spain. Upon graduation, Rachel served her first AmeriCorps year with City Year in Miami where she worked in a middle school connecting students with resources to help them succeed. She is now excited to be back in North Carolina and serving another AmeriCorps term.

Jessica Bast
Durham Public Schools

Jessica Bast is a CTNC AmeriCorps member serving as an energy and sustainability specialist in Durham Public Schools. She is working to enhance the recycling program throughout the school system and to educate students, their parents and teachers easy and innovate methods to save energy. Jessica has had a passion for addressing environmental issues since high school, and she recently graduated from Elon University with a B.A. in environmental studies. She looks forward to gaining experience in the nonprofit sector and to educate those throughout the school system to make a positive environmental impact and live more sustainably.

Monica Ospina
Keep Durham Beautiful

Monica is serving as the environmental outreach and volunteer coordinator at Keep Durham Beautiful. She was born in Colombia and raised in Miami, F.L. Monica earned a B.S. in environmental studies and a B.S. in biology with a minor in chemistry from Florida International University. Monica assisted Florida International University’s School of Environment, Arts and Society in educating the public on environmental issues. She is eager to inspire North Carolina residents to become passionate about their environment. Monica loves to swim, hike, dance, read and eat chocolate.

Victoria “Tori” Duval
Western North Carolina Nature Center

Tori graduated from the University of North Carolina at Asheville with a degree in environmental studies. During her final semester, she served as an intern for the WNC Nature Center in the animal department, where she learned to care for some of the amazing creatures that western North Carolina has to offer. After graduation, she accepted an internship at the Cradle of Forestry in Pisgah National Forest. It was there that she discovered her passion for environmental education, spending 8 months teaching children about the importance of the natural world and the history of Pisgah National Forest. Because of the opportunity that AmeriCorps has given to her, she is now able to combine her interests in education and animals by serving a 6-month internship at the WNC Nature Center, helping to design and participate in off-site education programming.