The Conservation Trust for North Carolina is the proud host organization for AmeriCorps, a ten-month national service program in environmental education and outreach. Through AmeriCorps, CTNC seeks to reconnect people with the outdoors and to develop future leaders in conservation. Learn more.

Chris Sajdak
Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association

Chris Sajdak is ECWA’s new AmeriCorps Service Member. He is a Michigan native coming to Durham by way of Indiana. He earned 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.

Paige Engelbrektsson
Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust

Paige is serving her second term as the environmental education and stewardship AmeriCorps member with Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust. She is a Virginia native and graduated in 2012, earning 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 is continuing to build new public trails and strengthen a ranger program to educate visitors. She spends any free time making music and crafts, riding horses and exploring wild spaces.

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, 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.

Lindsey Bijas
Piedmont Triad Regional Council

Lindsey is serving as an environmental educator at Piedmont Triad Regional Council, based in Kernersville, N.C. She was born and raised in Middletown, New Jersey, and remained there to earn her associate degree before transferring to Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk. She graduated in May 2016 with a B.S. in wildlife biology with a concentration in wildlife rehabilitation. As much as she loved home, “the mountains were calling”, and she had to pursue her dreams. She recently completed a six-month internship with Great Smoky Mountains National Park as a vegetation inventory and monitoring intern. While she loves doing research and work in the field, she also enjoys educating others about the environment and how they can make a difference. During her service, Lindsey will be educating students about a Stormwater SMART program, coordinating outreach opportunities, and getting involved with local communities to help keep their water clean and healthy. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking (especially with her dog, Sandy), rock climbing, running, horseback riding and exploring new places.

Bethany Sheffer
Balsam Mountain Trust

Bethany earned her B.A. in public administration and liberal studies: social and political development in Latin America with a minor in Spanish from Grand Valley State University located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She earned her Master in Public Administration with an emphasis in nonprofit leadership in 2016. A native to the forested lands of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, she grew up exploring nearby creeks and catching crayfish in the tiny town of Rapid River. These experiences, paired with her father’s enthusiasm for the outdoors, instilled a lifelong appreciation of the natural world. Bethany is thrilled to be serving at Balsam Mountain Trust where she hopes to not only contribute her nonprofit expertise but gain quality experience sharing the wonders of the natural world with underserved populations in western N.C. She relishes every moment outdoors in the mountains and enjoys hiking, biking, drawing, traveling and hanging out with her two cockatiels in her free time.

Matthew Lide
North Carolina Coastal Land Trust

Matt is serving coastal North Carolina communities as an environmental education coordinator with the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust, based in Wilmington. Originally from rural, forested South Carolina, Matt has been passionate about nature his entire life. He recently graduated from Duke University, earning his B.S. degree in environmental sciences with accompanying minors in biology and psychology. During his time at Duke, Matt worked as a research assistant in a plant biology lab and also interned at an environmental nonprofit in Portland, restoring riparian corridors in Oregon’s biggest city. At North Carolina Coastal Land Trust, Matt will develop education materials focused on longleaf pine forests, pollinators, and Venus flytraps. He will also recruit and manage volunteers, in addition to coordinating teacher and volunteer workshops. In his spare time, Matt enjoys running, hiking, tennis and caring for his three guinea pigs.

Travis Bordley
Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy

Travis is serving local communities in western North Carolina as the Roan Highlands volunteer and outreach associate with Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC). Travis is a recent graduate from UNC-Asheville where he earned his B.S. in environmental studies with a concentration in ecology. As a hobby, he is a photojournalist and previously interned with SAHC creating short films to inspire support of their conservation efforts. Travis grew up exploring the Highlands of Roan and is now in a position to inspire others to find the same joy and amazement in the places he loves. In this AmeriCorps position, he will recruit and educate volunteers from diverse communities. Travis will be conducting on-the-ground habitat restoration projects in the Roan Highlands. He also will help build on partnerships with the Center for Diversity and Education, Everybody’s Environment and other new organizations. Travis enjoys hiking, swimming, fishing, climbing, boating, photography, painting, reading, and just being outside! In his free time, he is always plotting his next photography outing.

Kelsey Ellis
Triangle Land Conservancy

Kelsey is serving as community education and outreach associate with the Triangle Land Conservancy in Durham. She became interested in the environment as an undergraduate at UNC-Chapel Hill and graduated with a B.S in environmental science in 2013. Kelsey pursued her interest in the environment through scientific research, obtaining an M.S in marine science from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2015. However, a desire to share her love of nature more directly led Kelsey to branch outside of the lab (and the ocean), and she has since worked as a science communication intern for an aquatic sciences society, Duke TIP marine biology instructor, and state parks environmental educator. In this AmeriCorps position, Kelsey will help TLC expand their reach into the neighborhoods surrounding their preserves through educational programming, outreach and volunteer coordination. When not wandering around outdoors, Kelsey enjoys cooking, drawing and relaxing with a good book.

Samantha Metzner 
Durham Public Schools Hub Farm

Samantha is serving as the outreach and education coordinator with Durham Public Schools Hub Farm. Originally from the outskirts of Chapel Hill, N.C., Samantha grew up adventuring in the woods with her sister and medley of dogs, horses and ducks. She holds a deep passion for the outdoors and greatly enjoys getting kids outside and engaged with nature. After graduating with a B.A in art from Guilford College in Greensboro, she lived in places such as Iceland and Wyoming, guiding horse tours in the mountains and working at an outdoor adventure camp for kids with ADHD. She also holds a 200-hour yoga teacher training certificate and greatly enjoys teaching in Chapel Hill on the side. Still involved in art-making, she also loves hanging out with horses and rock-climbing whenever possible.

Carey Goldman
University of North Carolina Wilmington – MarineQuest

Carey is serving as the Project Ocean Change coordinator for the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s MarineQuest program. He grew up in Boston and graduated from the University of Maryland earning a B.S. in environmental science and policy – marine and coastal management. He then went abroad to attend the University of Oxford where he received his Master of Science in water science, policy and management. Carey has long aspired to work with the ocean, his first passion, and strongly believes in using an interdisciplinary approach to effectively manage coastal resources. His role is to expand MarineQuest’s ability to reach underserved populations in southeast North Carolina, focusing on climate and ocean literacy. Through bringing educational programs to schools and developing resources for educators, Carey’s work will fill critical gaps in students’ knowledge regarding their surroundings and interconnected relationships between society, the ocean and the atmosphere. He has been an intern with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Anacostia Watershed Society. Carey can always be found near the water enjoying hobbies such as scuba diving or sailing. He is excited to apply his interdisciplinary background and passion for the coasts to help foster the next generation of climate and ocean stewards.

Jesse Crouch
Alliance Medical Ministry

Jesse is serving as the community garden and wellness program coordinator with Alliance Medical Ministry in Raleigh. A North Carolina native, Jesse discovered an enthusiasm for the German language in high school. After two trips to Germany and four years of close study of its rich literature, film and philosophy, Jesse felt called to a greater purpose and sought to escape the existential dread through service. He spent some time in nature serving on a trail crew with the Southwest Conservation Corps. Jesse then served two terms with the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps. During these years, Jesse fell in love with vegetable gardening and the awesome power food has to enrich lives and combat poverty and public health issues. He is thrilled now to be working at the forefront of this intersection of food and health by serving with Alliance. There, Jesse manages a quarter-acre vegetable garden providing healthy foods to patients that visit the clinic. In addition to the garden, he coordinates yoga, cooking classes, diabetes education and other opportunities that give patients the tools to take control of their health. In his free time Jesse enjoys fixing up and riding bicycles, coaching and playing Ultimate Frisbee, playing guitar and hanging out with his nieces and nephews.

Michael McClure
Foothills Equestrian Nature Center (FENCE)

Michael is serving as the Community Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator at Foothills Nature Equestrian Center (FENCE) in Tryon, NC. He is a recent graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, where he studied energy and sustainability to earn a B.A. in Environmental Studies. While in school, Michael spent a summer with the North Carolina Youth Conservation Corps working to improve state parks across eastern North Carolina. In Chapel Hill, he worked at UNC’s Battle Park to maintain trails and remove invasive species. A native of Tryon, Michael is excited to work in his home community to help FENCE in their mission of educating students and others about the environment. In his spare time, Michael likes to get outdoors to hike and improve his disc golf game.

Kate Conery 
North Carolina Coastal Federation

Kate is serving at the North Carolina Coastal Federation in Wrightsville Beach, N.C., as the coastal community engagement specialist. She’s originally from the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York but moved to Wilmington in 2012. She earned a Bachelor of Science in environmental science and minor in geospatial technologies from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. As a former intern of the federation, Kate was thrilled to come on board as an AmeriCorps member. She will be designing and implementing education programs, working on oyster restoration and stormwater runoff initiatives and working with volunteers in coastal communities. She also previously interned for the North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve. Through these opportunities, she was able to share her love of the environment with others. In her free time, Kate enjoys hiking, traveling, yoga and playing with her dogs.

April Hausle
North Carolina Arboretum

April is serving as community outreach coordinator at the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville, N.C. Growing up in North Carolina, April was always taught by her family and community to cherish nature and time spent outdoors. She believes that educational experiences in nature should be available for all people and strives to make that possible through her position as a CTNC AmeriCorps member. April received her bachelor’s degree from UNC-Asheville, where she studied international studies, Spanish and ecology. During her time at UNC-Asheville, April managed a community garden on campus and interned at Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP). Since graduating in 2015, April has stayed active in the community by participating in a volunteer ESL program through International House in Charlotte, N.C., and engaging in various community gardening efforts. In her leisure time, April enjoys running or walking in the forest, riding her bike, singing, making crafts, dancing and being with all the people she loves.

Madison Douthitt
North Carolina Coastal Federation

Madison, a native of North Carolina, is serving as a coastal community engagement specialist at the North Carolina Coastal Federation’s Wanchese office. Her childhood summers were filled in beach trips which fostered her passion for conservation and ecology. Madison graduated with a Bachelor of Science in zoology and a minor in Spanish from North Carolina State University. She is excited to have the opportunity to educate and engage local communities and hopes to inspire others to get outside and be stewards in their communities. Madison’s free time is spent hiking and exploring new places.