A Dedication to Climate Resilience

Championing climate-resilient conservation to achieve statewide systemic change

“A resilient North Carolina is a state where our communities, economies, and ecosystems are better able to rebound, positively adapt to, and thrive amid changing conditions and challenges, including disasters and climate change; to maintain quality of life, healthy growth, and durable systems; and to conserve resources for present and future generations.”

Executive Summary, North Carolina Climate Risk Assessment and Resilience Plan, June 2020

Addressing North Carolina’s Current Needs

Our state needs to prepare for the challenges our communities face today and tomorrow.  Historically, land protection efforts have been driven by a property’s conservation value scored by biology, geography and hydrology. Today, we must strive to bring additional focus to how people – all North Carolinians – may be impacted by the lands we conserve and how they benefit best from that work.

Our resilience strategy is all about protecting people just like you.

At CTNC, we seek to deliver conservation with this deeper purpose. Our diverse range of expertise in land protection along the Blue Ridge Parkway, our successful young adult service and education programs, and our commitment to advancing race equity in the conservation sector have well-positioned CTNC to respond to the needs of North Carolina communities in innovative and holistic ways. 

Guided by our values, CTNC’s staff and board have adopted a holistic approach to land conservation. Alongside our community partners, CTNC seeks to understand people’s relationship with land so we can better understand how conservation can support better outcomes related to public health, economic development, access to recreation and healthy foods, and building communities resilient to the impacts of climate change.”

-Chris Canfield, CTNC Executive Director

A strategy that’s catching on

A community-led approach to conservation is emerging in the state. The recently released North Carolina Climate Risk Assessment and Resilience Plan – which CTNC contributed to – emphasizes the need for a holistic approach to statewide resilience. This plan provides CTNC and our partners with shared, foundational goals we can build on.

The report states that “immediate focus must be on developing strategic priorities for public and natural infrastructure improvements as well as actions that integrate climate resiliency into agency operations, local disaster recovery programs, and long-term planning.”

Our resilience work is inspiring a new approach to conservation

CTNC is well equipped to deliver on that focus: we have already begun to work with community partners to develop a long-term resilience plan in Princeville and look forward to modeling this approach across the state.

Embracing equity as a guiding priority for our work, we’re inspired to see North Carolina leadership acknowledge the need to build capacity among our most marginalized communities. That emphasis is key to seeding systemic change toward greater resilience. Our state now has the opportunity, and the responsibility, to adopt policies that promote statewide resilience for the health of our land and all our people.

A close-up on the strategy in action

CTNC’s holistic resilience strategy is already taking shape.

Using a variety of resources, we will assist the Princeville community to build a more resilient future

With the help of amazing community partners, the expertise of the NC State’s Coastal Dynamics Design Lab, and the trust of the Princeville citizens, we are completing the Floodprint this fall. This detailed plan shows how smart conservation and landscape planning can help the town survive future floods while building a vibrant economy that preserves and celebrates Princeville’s proud history. 

But a plan is only as good as the action it guides. CTNC is now launching on-the-ground action to begin a first phase of work outlined in the Floodprint.

We are collaborating with partners to build water-absorbing, green infrastructure around the Princeville Elementary School. The school building, at the hub of the community, has been recently renovated and flood-proofed. CTNC’s project adds rain gardens, bio-swales, and other natural approaches to water management on the expansive school grounds. A Conservation Corps North Carolina crew will do much of the work, including building an educational trail for public use. A CTNC AmeriCorps service member will help develop an environmental education curriculum in partnership with students and faculty.

We are documenting our steps during this process to learn from, improve our work, and share lessons toward developing a statewide, community-based model for building resilience.

These are only the beginning steps in a multilayered and multiyear partnership. We know that achieving resilience will be an ongoing, challenging mission, but we are excited – and hopeful – that you will join us to help build a resilient, more just North Carolina.

Princeville continues to struggle with flooding from the Tar River.

Learn more about our Princeville Collaborative by joining our email list. You’ll receive updates as we launch new projects with the Town and other communities throughout the state.

AmeriCorps Spotlight: Kelsi Dew

Edgecombe County native works to discover and preserve lost history of Princeville

Born and raised in Edgecombe County, Kelsi Dew enrolled in Appalachian State’s Anthropology program to seek a different experience from her Eastern North Carolina childhood. But now, Kelsi has returned to her roots and can’t imagine ever leaving her home.

Kelsi’s passion for Eastern North Carolina history from 1850-1900 and the Reconstruction Period called her back to Princeville where she now helps to shape the community’s resilient future as an AmeriCorps member through CTNC.  

“I want to understand where I came from and why things are the way they are. Princeville is too important to not care about, locally and nationally. It’s a historical gem. I hope more people can care and understand, visit and experience, and ultimately respect what Princeville is.”

Kelsi Dew, AmeriCorps Member
Princeville Town Manager, Dr. Knight (left), and Kelsi (right) at the Princeville Temporary Town Hall 

Under the supervision of Princeville town manager, Dr. Glenda Knight, Kelsi is now an integral member of the Princeville team. Kelsi is actively building a record of Princeville’s history and heritage to be put on display in the Town’s Mobile Museum and permanent museum that is currently being restored from damage inflicted by Hurricane Matthew.

Repetitive flooding makes it difficult to fully document Princeville’s history.

Princeville has a long and often tumultuous history with hurricanes, flooding, climate change, and other environmental impacts. As the first town in the U.S. incorporated by African Americans and established by freed slaves, Princeville is also rich in heritage and cultural significance. But the town, built on swampland in the basin of the Tar River, faces threat of erasure as the community is caught on a loop of flooding, recovery, and rebuilding.

Despite the flooding and the hardships faced by the people of Eastern North Carolina, Princeville embodies a story of resilience. Land conservation and cultural heritage directly weave into Kelsi’s work because this land has an inspiring story to tell.

Looking ahead to a bright future.

“Even though the town still floods, it rebuilds. The people are what make Princeville resilient. We may have lost physical structures after each storm, but the town and its people are still here.”

Kelsi is an integral part of Princeville’s community that works to build a resilient town

Kelsi is filled with hope about what is ahead for the citizens of Princeville. Her work on behalf of the Town is bridging the past, present and future. She is part of a collaborative effort among dozens of organizations, government agencies, and town residents, working toward a shared goal of revitalizing Princeville with a commitment to sustainability and resilience. This shared vision has brought together many projects and partners in the Town of Princeville, local businesses and residents, and outside organizations like CTNC, The Conservation Fund, and NC State’s Coastal Dynamics Design Lab.

Over the next year, the residents will have better resources to tell the story of the union liberation of African American people following the Civil War, the once thriving agriculture economy, and the foundation of resilience that built this community. A Farmer’s Market is in development at Heritage Park that will offer a central community hub for Princeville’s budding agriculture economy. The Floodprint by NC State Coastal Dynamics Design Lab will provide additional guidance on how Princeville can develop its historic core in ways that can withstand future flood events while continuing this transformation into a vibrant destination for Eastern North Carolina.

“There is so much positive energy here.”

Kelsi has made Princeville her home. She met her fiance here and intends to raise her own children here. She will continue to explore all that Princeville has to offer even as her AmeriCorps service concludes.

Kelsi says her next steps are not only to continue her research, but to figure out ways to share the stories she’s uncovered. She wants to find ways to present history in a way that celebrates the Town because Princeville deserves to be celebrated for its history, culture, tourism, and conservation efforts.

Kelsi on a visit to Shiloh Landing, located right outside of Princeville

CTNC is embarking on many collaborative partnerships to support the Town of Princeville and their quest to achieve resilience. Read about our partnership to develop a Floodprint that will guide the Town’s conservation and resilient recovery efforts.

AmeriCorps Spotlight: Stephen Peters

How service and community work drives this future stormwater planning leader

North Carolinians are all too familiar with the damage of stormwater as we face severe flooding with worsening hurricane seasons annually. This stormwater floods towns and cities all over the state, damaging infrastructure and polluting clean water sources. Stormwater planning will directly contribute to a more resilient North Carolina for years to come.

These are the issues Stephen Peters explored during his 10-month AmeriCorps service term as he worked directly with the Kernersville community to provide stormwater education.

Stephen giving a presentation about stormwater planning!

As a native of  Kill Devil Hills in the Outer Banks, Stephen is familiar with the coastal environment of NC and the impact of storms on towns. He has first-hand experience witnessing how stormwater can damage a community. After graduating from Wake Forest University in 2020, Stephen was trying to figure out how he could combine his degrees in biology and environmental studies with his goal to serve. As a second lieutenant in the army reserves and a longtime volunteer, Stephen wanted to make sure his next steps were service-oriented. That’s where AmeriCorps came in.

“Service has always been important to me,” Stephen said. “This was another way for me to serve my community and state.”

Stephen holding a snake during a community outreach event.

Stephen provided stormwater education while serving with Stormwater SMART, a cooperative partnership between county and municipal governments to provide outreach programs educating about stormwater pollution, clean water, and water conservation. The Kernsville community is not unfamiliar with the impacts of stormwater. In 2018, the Kernersville citizens dealt with substantial flooding and damage from Tropical Storm Michael, and the local residents too often witness overflowing creeks with every downpour.

Kernsville was a town that needed the help of Stephen and the rest of the Stormwater SMART team who put together programs to mitigate the ongoing flooding issues. This task has even inspired Stephen, who was moved by his ability to help a rural community, build for a resilient future.

Stephen said AmeriCorps helped get him connected with a mentor, Danica Heflin, who coordinated environmental programs for Stormwater SMART, and helped him discover his passion for stormwater education. Now, Stephen is sure he wants to pursue a masters degree and eventually work for a local government focused on smartwater planning. He’s dedicated to engaging with rural communities and inspiring stewardship for their own environments.

In addition to educating elementary, middle, and high school science and environmental classes about water pollution, Stephen was involved with:

  • Planning Alamance Creek Week
  • Creating educational videos when schools moved online
  • Leading projects on I-Naturalist

“It was an eye-opening experience to get out in the community and teach people of all ages about how stormwater is impacting them every year,” Stephen said. “I really felt included in the community and felt inspired by their interest to continue this work. Stormwater will continue to damage towns all over NC, but hopefully I can begin to help residents build for a better future through my work.”

Stephen is still planning his next steps, but there are two big plans on his radar: completing his basic training camp as a second lieutenant in the army reserves and going back to school.

Stephen teaching elementary students about the Haw River!

“I really appreciate that Americorps, as an organization, focuses on the members and getting their own professional development,” he said. “It’s cool because you can take that time to work on yourself and develop yourself as a professional. It was definitely an incredible experience.”

AmeriCorps Spotlight: Katie Sullivan

Wetland monitoring to COVID-19 Disaster Response, AmeriCorps members can do it all

As COVID-19 uprooted lives all across the country, our own North Carolina communities were greatly impacted. All of us are proud to say that a group of brave AmeriCorps members responded to the call to serve during a time of great struggle. Members like Katie Sullivan helped connect food-insecure North Carolinians to her community’s local food bank as part of CTNC’s AmeriCorps Disaster Response efforts.

When Katie first joined AmeriCorps — a ten-month national service program designed to support environmental education, stewardship, and outreach to connect conservation organizations with local communities — she was not expecting to find herself working at a food bank packaging thousands of potatoes for the Wilmington citizens.

Katie serving with Storm Surge Protectors!

When Katie began her service, she worked with Storm Surge Protectors, a UNCW MarineQuest citizen-science project whose aim is to collect data to study the ecological condition of coastal wetlands. Katie worked in wetlands across Wilmington to monitor vegetation for seasonal changes and impacts of storms. Katie was invested in sharing wetland education at community events in the area to share the importance of this ecosystem on NC coasts and studying hurricane mitigation work while in the field.

But when COVID-19 spread across the state and citizens of Wilmington were laid off or furloughed at rapid rates, Katie was remobilized and began taking action to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. Despite the risk of exposure, Katie jumped at the opportunity to continue serving her community. 

“It’s been a great way to connect with the community again in a different way, in a different setting and show what AmeriCorps members are. It’s been a great experience at both ends. As much as I miss the field, I love going to the food bank, too.”

Katie Sullivan
Katie and Audrey packing food in Wilmington

Through working at the community food bank and packaging meals for distribution, Katie has been able to help mitigate the economic impact the pandemic has had on so many Wilmington residents. She has since been able to continue field work, while also volunteering at the food bank, to balance her two passions.

“I don’t know if I could really tell you what service meant before this. I’m learning what it means to step up in a community, and rally and engage with people.”

Katie said she has become so immersed in the Wilmington community that she is soon starting her master’s degree in environmental studies at UNC Wilmington to continue her research of NC wetlands. She plans to remain in the state for years to come to take advantage of the opportunities for environmental education and to continue her work connecting the public with coastal science.

“Connecting people to the outdoors and making sure that land is available to make those connections, the work CTNC is doing to ensure that is huge. We need tons of greenspace. That was what was super important to me. I want places for people to develop their own love for the coast.”

Katie having fun with other CTNC AmeriCorps service members!

If you’re inspired by Katie’s experience with AmeriCorps, meet another member, Tamarya, who served her community through the Durham Hub Farm!

AmeriCorps Spotlight: Tamarya Sims

Race equity and sustainable agriculture inspire this rising leader

After studying environmental studies, ecology and field biology with a focus in plant ecology at UNC Asheville, Tamarya Sims was encouraged to join AmeriCorps through the Durham Public Schools Hub Farm. She primarily focused on environmental and garden education, and field work, all while developing a passion for teaching. 

Tamarya heard a lot about AmeriCorps during her undergraduate years and was drawn in by the program’s commitment to building just communities and race equity.

“I feel like service is what I think my degree is about. Environmentalism is about service and it only makes sense to do Americorps. I knew I wanted to build connections and listen and learn and support the community.”

– Tamarya Sims
Tamarya collecting eggs!

Tamarya’s  hands-on work in Durham has embodied what it means to build a resilient, just community through sustainable agriculture and community outreach. She said one of the most important developments that came out of this program was her realization that her passion is not just within the environmental realm, but that she specifically wants to teach people, especially people of color, how to grow food sustainably by owning her own farm.

Tamarya’s deep interest for food justice and sustainable agriculture and horticulture developed while being in a community of people that looked like her. Being from Conover and going to school in Asheville for environmental studies, Tamarya was often the only Black person in her classes. There was often a difficulty to connect because no one was familiar with her lived experiences, but coming into the Durham education community was a brand new experience for her.

“This was the first time I was around students who looked like me and seeing teachers who looked like me.”

She said it was eye opening and showed her that she feels empowered to do more work to break barriers between people of color and the outdoors.

Tamarya teaching a group of elementary age students about sustainable ag!

Tamarya said she was often uncomfortable in social spaces where she was the only person of color, but she is passionate about being a role model for Black youths and young people of color to be encouraged to get into environmentalism and not be scared to pursue careers in environmentalism. She wants them to know there is a space for them within this field. 

Tamarya said AmeriCorps service was so helpful to realize her professional goals and calling to teach. 

Tamarya says that “growing food is a weapon” and after completing her AmeriCorps service term, she aims to break down barriers between the Black community in North Carolina and nature. All of us here at CTNC cannot wait to see the work she accomplishes as a rising leader in our state. 

Congratulations to Tamarya for all of her amazing work!

CTNC’s service programs allow us to provide capacity and support to resilient community partners throughout the state. To learn more about CTNC’s AmeriCorps service program or apply for an open position, click here.

AmeriCorps Members Respond to COVID-19 Pandemic

Living our values, CTNC AmeriCorps members respond to the needs of communities through service

Since the COVID-19 pandemic was first reported in North Carolina, we have seen real heroes in action: doctors, nurses, health care professionals, grocery store workers, food suppliers and the many other selfless individuals on the front lines of the pandemic. These unsung heroes have helped us navigate one of the strangest and most difficult moments in many of our lives while selflessly working to keep us safe and secure.

CTNC’s AmeriCorps service members have also answered the call to serve as seven members have worked on the front lines of our communities to support local food security organizations. These individuals are delivering goods to the people of the state through Durham FEAST, Meals on Wheels of Gaston County, the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina in Durham and Wilmington, Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, and more locations. 

Volunteers are currently serving with Inter-Faith Food Shuttle and other community partners in need. Credit: Emma Jablonski/Keep Durham Beautiful AmeriCorps Member

Responding to a growing need for capacity and support

Now, the AmeriCorps program will move forward in taking advantage of new rules laid out by the CARES Act passed by the United States Congress by partnering with direct service relief agencies to place new members with more organizations. These nonprofits and organizations of faith fall outside of CTNC AmeriCorps’ charge to deliver environmental education to children and families, however, with an experienced program staff, CTNC has the ability to serve the most vulnerable through these federal resources.

From May to December, CTNC will hire over 20 NEW AmeriCorps members to serve in organizations that are responding to the needs of communities who face challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. These organizations have set goals to deliver hot meals, provide food security, address housing insecurity, connect food to rural and urban families in need, connect Latinx communities to vital COVID-19 information, and offer volunteer services.

Partners include Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, Dig In! of Yancey County, Meals on Wheels of Wake County, Durham Co-Op Extension, El Futuro, Oak City Cares and more. 

Not only will these new AmeriCorps members build capacity for local disaster groups to more effectively deliver goods and services, but CTNC is helping individuals regain meaningful employment that entitles them to a living allowance and an education award. In this spirit of collaboration and partnership, CTNC has identified a unique way for our organization to respond to communities’ needs in the wake of an unprecedented disaster.

Even though we find ourselves isolated from friends, family, and work colleagues through social distancing, community-driven support is more critical than ever!

We will share more about this disaster response effort in the coming weeks and months. To stay up to date with CTNC’s community-driven projects and service programs, join the conversation.

Eat your veggies!

Conservation Corps North Carolina members assist a community garden; help build unity in Durham.

Typically, teams working with Conservation Corps North Carolina spend a lot of time building and improving hiking trails and outdoor recreation spaces in rustic locales. But this assignment was community-based as the crew worked to benefit an urban farm in the heart of Durham. Durham’s Urban Community AgriNomics program (UCAN) partnered with Conservation Corps North Carolina (CCNC) to take on an unconventional project: giving the growing space a little extra ❤️.

The CCNC crew spent over 1,255 combined hours working at the UCAN farm. They helped build a new chicken coop to replace a dilapidated one. 🐔They also repaired an “intergenerational sharing deck” to be used as a community gathering space, complete with a wheelchair ramp, safety railing and properly secured posts for structural integrity.

A work in progress: construction of UCAN’s intergenerational sharing deck, which will foster community and conversation among Durham residents who visit the farm.

“I wanted some land in Northern Durham where I could bring community together and help people,” UCAN founder Delphine Sellars said. “Because I know that a lot of the kids, for example, are being bussed from inner city Durham. And they bring their drama and their traumas.” 

The team worked safely, efficiently and with dedication to enhance a space that would engage the surrounding community, build relationships and enable UCAN to better support Durham residents – because when people gather around fresh food and good conversation, there’s nothing they can’t accomplish. 🌶🥕🥦

Happy gardening! The CCNC crew stands with UCAN founder Delphine Sellars (middle) on the Catawba Trail Farm site.

Conservation Trust for North Carolina is proud to support strong, resilient communities through Conservation Corps North Carolina work. Because, when our lands and communities are experiencing threats, we need conservation solutions powered by people. And if we’re searching for rejuvenation in our communities, there’s not much fresh air, good food and a little exercise can’t accomplish.

If you’d like to see the team in action and learn how their work with CCNC has enhanced their personal and professional community, check out this video.

And, as always, we’d love to see you join our own community and keep you updated! Consider signing up for our email list to receive future updates about our work.

AmeriCorps Members have a unique opportunity to serve the public and engage with natural spaces around North Carolina.

Building Community, One Board at a Time

Conservation Corps North Carolina serves the public through a trail restoration project with Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association

Hammer? Check. Nails? Check. A hardworking crew? Conservation Corps has that, too. 

This July, a team of six Conservation Corps crew members and two team leaders worked with the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association (ECWA) to complete a much-needed trail reroute project. They performed maintenance on an existing trail boardwalk – and built an entirely new one! 😱  – in the 17-Acre Wood Nature Preserve in Durham. 

“Right now, we are in a generation that, for the first time in human civilization, is a really indoor generation. I love the way [the Conservation Corps program] puts people into nature, into the outdoors, and makes them aware of nature in a way that they feel like they’re contributing to the public…”

–Jan Pender, program manager for Conservation Corps N.C.

Together, the group assembled and installed new signs and replaced old signage at two nature preserves: ECWA’s Beaver Creek Nature Preserve and Glennstone Nature Preserve. 🌿

Can you guess how many service hours the team contributed to ECWA during the project? 

627 hours! One person would have had to labor more than 26 days around the clock to make that happen. But team work … makes the dream work. 😉

The team at UNC-TV produced a phenomenal spot on this hardworking crew. Take a look!

During their “hitch” – that’s what AmeriCorps crews call their service outings, which last around nine days– the Conservation Corps North Carolina crew members learned a lot about themselves and each other.

CTNC was proud to fund the project through a grant with the Duke Energy Foundation. 🔌⚡️ Trails of public lands statewide wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable without the dedication of these hardworking Conservation Corps service teams and the nonprofit organizations with which they partner. 

Jan Pender, Program Manager for Conservation Corps North Carolina, says that the Conservation Corps program is “important for our state’s future.”

“We have a rapidly growing population of young people, and of diverse young people,”  she says. “We want to serve all those people and get them connected to our state’s great public assets and help people understand the importance of stewarding them and preserving them.”

CTNC is beyond proud of our AmeriCorps members past and present.

Welcome, AmeriCorps Members! 🌎🌿💧

CTNC is thrilled to introduce the AmeriCorps cohort for 2019!

From the mountains to the coast, these selfless young people are educating others and protecting the environment for generations to come. We’re wishing this cohort of environmental stewards a fantastic service term!

Hannah Barg hails from the great lakes region of Illinois and earned her degree in Environmental Science from Goshen College in 2016. While in college, Hannah traveled to Kenya, Cambodia, and England and also participated in the Sustainability Leadership Semester at Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center. After graduating, Hannah worked as an environmental stewardship teaching fellow at Conserve School in Northern Wisconsin, a semester program designed for high school juniors. While there, she gained invaluable experience as a formal and non-formal educator, and developed a passion for environmental justice and advocacy. Coming from the land of many lakes, Hannah hopes to expand her public education and outreach skills as the Stormwater Education Specialist at Triangle J Council of Governments this service year. After AmeriCorps, Hannah has big plans to finally adopt a dog and pursue a career as an education and outreach coordinator at a non-profit. 

Nicole Cook serves with the Balsam Mountain Trust in Sylva as their Environmental Outreach Coordinator. She is focused on delivering environmental education programs to Title I elementary schools in the area. Before joining CTNC AmeriCorps, she graduated from UNC Asheville with a B.S. in Environmental Studies. Nicole grew up in Woodstock, GA, and spent her summers volunteering at a sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation center where she developed a passion for environmental education and conservation. During college she was able to study abroad in Panama and South Africa and take hands-on field courses during which she developed a strong interest in ecology and wildlife biology. In her down-time Nicole enjoys hiking, canoeing, reading, and hanging out with her dog. Nicole is excited to share her love of nature, ecology, and conservation with the community in western North Carolina.

Emma Corbitt is the Community Outreach and Stewardship Coordinator for the Bald Head Island Conservancy (BHIC) in Wilmington. Prior to joining CTNC AmeriCorps, Emma attended Virginia Tech and completed a B.S. in Environmental Science. At Virginia Tech she organized outreach activities with local schools through her club, The Environmental Student Organization. This service term she is representing the BHIC at community events and conducting environmental education programs throughout Brunswick County as well as organizing volunteers. When she isn’t sharing her love of the environment with others through environmental education, Emma can be found running, sailing, or reading a book on the beach in her free time. She is excited to make a positive impact in the community during her service term and looks forward to all that the year will bring!

Audrey Dunn serves with Cape Fear River Watch in Wilmington as an Environmental Educator. She is originally from Little Rock, Arkansas. She holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Tufts University in Boston and an M.Sc. in Forest and Nature Conservation from Wageningen University in the Netherlands. Before joining AmeriCorps, she worked as a research assistant studying the behavior of wild lemurs in Madagascar and orangutans in Indonesia. Most recently she was studying the breeding habitat of meadow birds in northeast Poland. Finally she wanted to come home to the US and decided on coastal North Carolina as her destination! Her aim as an environmental educator and volunteer coordinator at CFRW is to increase the number of students who receive an education about environmental stewardship, expand CFRW’s reach up the river by creating educational programming at Lock and Dam 1, and extend the length of waterways cared for by organizing watershed cleanups. In her spare time, she enjoys cycling, practicing yoga, swimming, and reading. 

Dymond Generette is serving at Triangle Land Conservancy as the Walnut Hill Community Engagement Coordinator. Her main position duties include planning and developing innovative events, recruiting and managing volunteers for workdays, and developing new partnerships within Wake County. She recently graduated from NC State with her B.S. in Environmental Science with a minor in Wildlife Sciences. She credits her deep appreciation for nature to her service trip to Costa Rica where she hiked in the Tapanti National Park with scenic views of the rainforest and the unique wildlife. Her hobbies include exploring downtown Raleigh-Durham, thrift shopping, and baking. 

Abby Gostling is serving with Keep Durham Beautiful (KDB) as an Environmental Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator.  She graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a degree in Economics and Global Studies, and was led to CTNC AmeriCorps by a passion for public service and a love for anything and everything outdoors. At KDB she is working to promote environmental stewardship in Durham by educating and coordinating volunteers in litter prevention, waste reduction, and community greening/beautification. After AmeriCorps she hopes to pursue a Master’s in Public Administration and work in local government. Outside of the office she can be found cooking, baking, or hiking with friends and family.

Brianna Haferman is serving as the Piedmont Legacy Trails Coordinator for the Piedmont Land Conservancy and Piedmont Triad Regional Council. Brianna is growing the regional initiative through the creation of rural partnerships, branding and storytelling projects, and organizing the annual Piedmont Legacy Trails Summit. In 2018 Brianna received her Master’s Degree in Social Work and interned at the North Carolina Botanical Garden. While serving in Horticultural Therapy Programs she discovered her love for connecting people to the joy and relief that comes from time spent outdoors. When not serving she can be found on the same trails she is working to promote, either strolling or biking. She also loves gardening, baking, thrifting, and camping.  She plans to continue protecting, cultivating, and enjoying beautiful natural spaces throughout her lifetime.

Emma Jablonski is serving as an Environmental Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator with Keep Durham Beautiful. She is assisting the non-profit in creating beneficial partnerships, organizing significant events, and getting volunteers motivated and excited to make their community greener and cleaner! She is a recent Master of Public Administration graduate from Appalachian State University with concentrations in Non-Profit Management and Environmental Policy. As a student there, she completed several projects on recycling behavior change, worked as a farm apprentice, and conducted marine research with Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Commission and Nature Coast Biological Station. She also has a BA in Spanish Language and Literature from the University of Mississippi. She enjoys biking, plogging, and quality time with family and friends. Once her service is over, she looks forward to continuing to make an impact in the field of environmental education and sustainability. 

Kelsey Kirwan is from Durham and graduated from Appalachian State University in Fall of 2017. She is serving at the Coastal Land Trust in Wilmington as the Environmental Education and Volunteer Coordinator. Since graduating, she has been exploring her career opportunities along with different landscapes. She worked three part-time jobs after graduating, all with a focus on outdoor/environmental education: Chapel Hill Parks and Rec, Piedmont Wildlife Center, and Frog Hollow Outdoors. Not ready to settle in Durham and looking for a change in scenery, she pursued an internship this past year in Arizona with the National Park Service at Chiricahua National Monument. She is looking forward to the opportunities that AmeriCorps has to offer and getting to know the Wilmington area.

Ashley Kreitz is serving in Hickory as Catawba Science Center’s first AmeriCorps member, where she is recruiting and coordinating volunteers, as well as updating the Environmental Education classes and exhibits to incorporate a conservation message. Prior to becoming an AmeriCorps member, she earned her B.S. in Earth & Environmental Science and has been teaching environmental education at Haw River State Park and Camp Thunderbird. After taking some time off to thru hike the Appalachian Trail, she’s excited to begin working with the community again, educating adults and children about sustainability and conservation.

Stephen Peters is serving at the Piedmont Triad Regional Council (PTRC) in Kernersville as an environmental educator with the Stormwater SMART program. Stephen grew up on the Outer Banks of North Carolina in Kill Devil Hills. Living only 200 ft from the ocean he developed a love of the outdoors and the beauty of nature. Stephen attended Wake Forest University where he earned a B.A. in Biology and minor in Environmental Studies. During his time at WFU Stephen spent most of his time in Army ROTC and earned a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Army Reserves upon graduation from WFU. Stephen will assist in coordinating the Stormwater SMART program by providing environmental education on topics like water quality, pollution, and stormwater runoff. He will also help in facilitating community outreach events in the Piedmont Triad region. He is excited to help educate the next generation of environmental stewards!

Ivori Schley is serving as the Environmental Stewardship and Outreach Associate at the Highlands Cashiers Land Trust (HCLT) in Highlands. She is teaching after-school programs and educating the community about HCLT, maintaining trails, and managing/recruiting volunteers for workdays. Ivori is also actively controlling invasive species around Highlands and Cashiers by treating hemlocks affected by the hemlock wooly adelgid (HWA). Before AmeriCorps, Ivori utilized her B.S. degree in Urban and Community Horticulture to perform agricultural research across America and East Africa. She also worked diligently to ameliorate food apartheid issues for underserved youth in her community. Ivori hopes to strengthen her educational skills by completing the North Carolina Environmental Education certificate. CTNC AmeriCorps has granted Ivori the opportunity to gain exposure to natural settings while working for a land trust!  After AmeriCorps, Ivori intends to continue non-profit work, improve food security across the world, and share her love for nature to all. 

Elicia Senff is serving at Triangle Land Conservancy (TLC) as the AmeriCorps Community Engagement and Education Coordinator. She is focused on creating educational programming for TLC’s partners and surrounding communities as well as increasing the number of citizen science opportunities. Previously, she earned a B.A in Geography from UNC Wilmington where she also worked as a Trip Lead for the Department of Campus Recreation. Leading these trips inspired her passion for environmental education and outdoor recreation. She was not only able to inspire an appreciation of the environment in others, but also saw the personal growth people experienced while in nature. After graduating, Elicia returned to Raleigh to pursue a G.I.S graduate certificate from NC State University. When not working, she can be found hiking, dancing, or snuggling with her pup.  

Tamarya Sims is serving at Durham Public Schools Hub Farm for the next 10 months as an Educator and Program Assistant. Before AmeriCorps, Tamarya was working for the American Conservation Experience at Great Smoky Mountains National Park as an educator. She loves and is interested in gardening/farming, food justice, education, plant medicine, horticulture/agriculture, plant/bird identification, and photography. After AmeriCorps, Tamarya hopes to create her dream job by combining outdoor experiential learning, environmental/agricultural education, and food justice advocacy.  

Ashlee Stradford graduated from UNC Asheville and is a former AmeriCorps Summer VISTA member. This service term, she is at Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham serving as a Community Educator. At the gardens she hopes to increase outreach in local schools and build onto the garden curriculum. She plans to continue her career in environmental education by attending graduate school and becoming a teacher.

Katie Sullivan serves at UNCW MarineQuest as a Coastal Citizen Science Ambassador. In this role Katie meets with community members and trains individuals to become Storm Surge Protectors. Storm Surge Protectors collect long-term data that will help determine the ecological condition of coastal wetlands in North Carolina. The project promotes an understanding of coastal wetlands through community engagement and direct assessment of wetland health throughout the year. By providing an opportunity for members to perform fieldwork, the project highlights the connections between a healthy ecosystem, storm resiliency, and community. Katie is thrilled to be studying the ocean that first inspired her love of marine science and learning from her new community. In addition to leading workshops and monitoring the field sites, Katie will also be organizing the data to allow for incorporation in larger research projects and curriculum development. In her free time, Katie can be found surfing, scuba diving, or eating too many tacos. 

Laura Thompson is serving with The Conservation Fund at Good Hope Farm in Cary, North Carolina. She is responsible for community outreach and the development of projects promoting sustainable agriculture at her host site. Additionally, Laura organizes volunteers and expands educational programs to help connect the community with local agriculture and food! Before joining AmeriCorps, Laura was finishing her bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from Appalachian State University. Laura has always been interested in community nutrition and supporting local food systems, and she is excited to be part of the AmeriCorps team and have the opportunity to turn her passion into her future career! 

To learn more about CTNC’s commitment to the AmeriCorps program, click here!

2019 AmeriCorps Members

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

Anne Maxwell Ellett
Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association

Anne Maxwell Ellett is an environmental educator for Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association (ECWA). Prior to joining ECWA, she was an environmental educator for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in Maryland after graduating UNC-Chapel Hill. During her time at UNC, Anne Maxwell studied biology and marine science and spent a semester in the Galapagos Islands studying marine ecology. At ECWA, Anne Maxwell leads Family Explorers Club, Explorers Club and assists with Nature Walks; all of which aim to get Durham residents, big and small, outside and connected with Ellerbe Creek. She is also involved with the planning and implementation of volunteer workdays, assists with outreach for various programs through social media platforms, and helps with fundraising for the education program. It was during her undergraduate career that her love for environmental science and educating the public was solidified.

Melissa Kennedy
Triangle Land Conservancy

Melissa Kennedy earned her B.S. in animal science from N.C. State University and grew up camping and hiking with her family. Her passion for the outdoors combined with her desire to share this interest with young people led her to AmeriCorps. She will serve at Triangle Land Conservancy as the AmeriCorps community outreach and education associate, doing community outreach and education in Durham, N.C. She hopes to inspire youth in her community to continue protecting the environment!

Lillie Reiter
Coastal Land Trust

Lillie Reiter serves with the Coastal Land Trust in Wilmington as an environmental education and volunteer coordinator. She is originally from Asheville and graduated from Guilford College in Greensboro. Her passion for environmental education began while she was studying abroad in the Turks and Caicos Islands teaching children about the ocean and marine biology. She has worked with a zoo, nature center, science center, land conservancy and now a land trust! As an environmental education and volunteer coordinator, her role will be to incorporate more environmental field trips into the school’s curriculum, engage the public in nature-based events, and help volunteers have fun while doing service. When she’s not out and about downtown with friends, she can be found at home, snuggled with her cat, eating ice cream and reading.

Eliza Hurst
Balsam Mountain Trust
Eliza Hurst is serving at the Balsam Mountain Trust as the education outreach coordinator. She will be focusing on bringing environmental education alive with live animal programs at local Title I elementary schools and public libraries. She received her B.S. in geology from Western Carolina University in 2018. Eliza was born and raised in Pompano Beach, Florida, where she developed a deep love for the ocean and marine life through scuba diving with her dad and brother. Those experiences shaped her love of the natural world. Eliza is excited to share her passion for the environment and conservation with the western North Carolina community.

Blair Frantz
Triangle J Council of Governments
Blair Frantz is serving at the Triangle J Council of Governments in the Water Resources Program as the stormwater education specialist. She will be promoting behavior changes through outreach and education about water quality impairment and our impact on stormwater runoff. Blair will be working to increase citizen access to and participation in environmental education activities and events. She’s originally from Montclair, New Jersey but moved to Durham this past summer. She earned a B.S. in environmental Science from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. As a former intern of the Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA) and the Connecticut Council on Environmental Quality, Blair was thrilled to come on board as a CTNC AmeriCorps member for the 2018/2019 service year. Through these opportunities, she was able to share her love of the environment and clean water with others. Her professional interests lie in environmental analysis, environmental education and outreach, as well as environmental policy and regulation. Blair is enjoying settling into her new home in Durham and spends most evenings and weekends cooking or baking, reading, hiking and running.

Anna Vancina
The Conservation Fund – Good Hope Farm
This service year, Anna Vancina is positioned at host site The Conservation Fund in Chapel Hill, North Carolina as Good Hope Farm community outreach coordinator. Originally from Manhattan, Illinois, Anna was heavily involved in the 4-H program during her youth and adolescence, and from it developed her love of service. She interned this past summer with NCSU’s Center for Environmental Farming Systems and is currently finishing her Bachelor of Arts degree in environmental studies through the University of Illinois Springfield. Some of Anna’s main responsibilities at The Conservation Fund are to organize volunteers for Good Hope Farm workdays and events, develop educational programming for the farm and support various community engagement initiatives. Anna is most excited about the Good Hope Farm project because it is modeled to support small-scale farmers, encourage the growth of local foods and engage the community in urban agriculture.

Jade Woll
UNCW MarineQuest
Jade Woll serves at UNCW MarineQuest as a coastal citizen science ambassador. Jade will be creating a citizen science project focused on coastal resiliency. The purpose of this project is to increase community awareness about the protection marshes bring to coastal communities while partnering it with a citizen science project that will assess local marshes. She will be conducting various volunteer workshops ranging from marsh assessments to creating living shorelines. This position focuses on all the things she loves. Combining her passion for volunteer coordination with marine science allows her to gain invaluable experience for her future. She is extremely excited to be partnering with local community members and having the opportunity to increase community awareness about the importance of protecting our coast.

Grace McCants
Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust

Grace McCants is serving at the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust (HCLT) located in Highlands, N.C. as their environmental stewardship and outreach associate. She will be teaching after-school programs, maintaining trails and managing/recruiting volunteers for workdays. Grace and the volunteers will be striving to control invasive species around Highlands and Cashiers, treating surviving hemlocks in the area, protecting rare species, and creating better access to the beautiful vistas the HCLT protects. Along with this, Grace will be writing lesson plans about animal habitats, survival adaptations and conservation importance in a fun and educating way for the young students in the after-school programs. Grace hopes to further her skills in environmental education by completing the North Carolina Environmental Education Certificate as well as attending GIS lectures led by Dr. Gary Wein of the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust. CTNC AmeriCorps is allowing Grace to follow her dreams of educating children about the importance of nature and getting them as passionate about it as she is, as well as working to conserve beautiful properties throughout the mountains. When Grace is not working, you can find her backpacking along the many mountainous trails or snuggling in her cabin with her dogs.

Maya Revell
Piedmont Triad Regional Council
Maya Revell is serving as the environmental programs assistant with the Piedmont Triad Regional Council in Kernersville, N.C.  She was born and raised in Hickory, N.C. and now lives in Winston-Salem, N.C. Maya earned her B.A. in biology from Wake Forest University and worked in the WFU Office of Sustainability as a sustainability ambassador and the waste reduction intern. Her past work experience and college coursework have led her to pursue a career addressing the need for sustainability education.  While serving at the PTRC, Maya assists in coordinating the Stormwater SMART program by providing environmental education on water quality and facilitating community outreach events. She is excited that this partnership with the PTRC and CTNC AmeriCorps will allow her the opportunity to further develop herself as an educator as well as serve underserved communities in the Piedmont Triad. “I knew that serving with CTNC AmeriCorps and the PTRC would be the perfect opportunity to explore the intersections of environmental sustainability, education and social justice while inspiring the next generation of conservation leaders.”

Frances Starn
Durham Public Schools Hub Farm

Frances Starn is serving as the AmeriCorps education and outreach coordinator at the Durham Public Schools Hub Farm. An alumna of Durham Public Schools, she graduated with a degree in history and urban education policy from the University of Pennsylvania in 2015. Since then, Frances has worked for environmental education programs in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park, the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia and the Adirondack State Park in New York. At the Hub Farm, Frances will be piloting an elementary garden education program, working with community partners to increase the Hub’s visibility, and doing farm work. Frances is proud to return home to North Carolina and serve in her own community.

Claire Denny
Eno River Association
Claire Denny is serving at the Eno River Association as the AmeriCorps conservation and education coordinator. Her position requires her to participate in planning and managing stewardship volunteer workdays, perform land stewardship monitoring of properties owned by the association, organize landowner outreach meetings, be an advocate for Eno River Association at non-profit events/meetings, help out in any way she can with office work and to be a supporting hands-on environmental education mentor for underserved youth. After graduating from High Point University, she completed a year of service with AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) in the southwest region of the U.S. Through this program, her love for the environment and conservation grew. She wanted to make a difference in the area that she lived in, by way of being hands-on in nature, so she applied for the position at Eno. Not only is she able to learn new aspects/skills while working for a nonprofit conservation organization, but she gets to educate others, especially the next generation. She is a lifelong learner and wants to teach/get others interested in what she is passionate about: nature. She’s excited for the next 10 months!

Kaitlin Willis
Eastern 4-H Center
Kaitlin is serving at the Eastern 4-H Center in Columbia after enjoying her summer at N.C. Aquarium on Roanoke Island and her first introduction to the Outer Banks. She is currently developing educational programs for the center to implement in summer camps and school field trips. Kaitlin is originally from Connecticut where she taught middle school science before transitioning into outdoor education after returning from a year-long adventure in Kenya. She is now looking forward to her time as a CTNC AmeriCorps member at the 4-H Center and is focused on helping kids discover a new type of outdoor classroom while spreading an appreciation for the habitats and wildlife found here!

Emilee Winter
Bald Head Island Conservancy

Emilee Winter graduated from UNC-Wilmington with a B.S. in environmental science. She is currently serving at the Bald Head Island Conservancy as the AmeriCorps community outreach and stewardship coordinator. Her responsibilities include creating and teaching environmental lessons both on the island and in nearby schools, expanding the conservancy’s outreach efforts and managing volunteers to help with stewardship projects. Emilee joined CTNC AmeriCorps in order to address the needs of the coastal community and show people how exciting exploring nature can be. After living in North Carolina her whole life, she loves enjoying and protecting the amazing natural resources here. She also loves scuba diving, kayaking, reading and watching “The Office.”

Chase Robinson
Tar River Land Conservancy
Chase Robinson serves as the land management associate at Tar River Land Conservancy and is overseeing the completion of hiking trails for communities within Edgecombe, Franklin, Granville, Greene, Halifax, Nash, Person, Vance and Warren counties. Chase will be recruiting volunteers to help with trail building, reaching out to local government and schools, community colleges and universities. Chase joined CTNC AmeriCorps to gain valuable experience within nonprofits, learning to interact socially across the counties, to earn an environmental education/nonprofit certificate and GIS work. He believes that the service is important as conservation is important to citizens of N.C. and around our country and believes that environmental education shouldn’t only expand to youth, but to adults as well.

Rachel Jamrozy
Keep Durham Beautiful

Rachel Jamrozy is currently serving at Keep Durham Beautiful as a volunteer and community outreach coordinator. Having recently graduated from James Madison University with a bachelor’s of social work, Rachel is passionate about working with individuals and communities on issues that directly impact them. She is passionate about service and has been involved with various organizations including Camp Kesem, Operation Smile, National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Sierra Club in numerous capacities. This year she plans to demonstrate that they do not need a formal environmental background to get involved! She will be coordinating events such as litter cleanups and tree plantings to make environmental stewardship accessible to community members. In her free time, Rachel can be found playing with her cat, painting or doing yoga.

Joshua Perkins
N.C. Arboretum
Joshua Perkins is serving as the AmeriCorps community engagement educator at N.C. Arboretum. Joshua is an advocate in educating others about the characteristics and benefits of the environment and how people should cherish the environment in which they live. Joshua attained a bachelor’s degree in environmental education from Warren Wilson College located in Swannanoa, Asheville. Besides serving as a CTNC AmeriCorps member for N.C. Arboretum, Joshua has also served in AmeriCorps as an assistant teacher and counselor engaging and ensuring the well-being of youth members through core and artistic classes. He has also served in CitiSquare AmeriCorps: Food on the Move as a community server where he traveled around East Dallas and provided free nutritious meals along with engaging with youth of diverse cultures and backgrounds in summer activities. These activities focused on taking advantage of the outdoor environments while gaining an appreciation of the outdoor environments with which the children thrive in.  Personal quote: “I am constantly seeking knowledge and skills that will enable me to become a more positive and influential environmental educator within the community. I believe individuals must gain an understanding of the environment in which they live. Doing so will allow one to develop a respect for an environment that deserves respect.”

Guido Schutz
Piedmont Triad Regional Council
Guido Schutz is serving as the Piedmont Legacy trails coordinator for Piedmont Triad Regional Council and Piedmont Land Conservancy to promote the Piedmont Legacy Trails program. His duties are to organize trail data in GIS, promote Piedmont Legacy Trails through social media and other relevant channels, assist in the organization of the annual “Piedmont Legacy Trails Summit” and assess conditions and map out trails in the region. He joined CTNC AmeriCorps to make a positive impact on the environment, which is something he has strived to do for the entirety of his life. Beginning his career by doing environmental service with CTNC AmeriCorps was the perfect way for him to gain experience in the field and help him succeed in making a positive impact on the environment, wherever his career may take him.

Erin Rexin
Coastal Studies Institute

Erin Rexin is serving as the Roanoke Island Trails Lead at ECU’s Coastal Studies Institute. She’ll be focused on developing a volunteer program with the aim of creating new biking and walking paths on Roanoke island as well as producing a map showcasing this new trails network for publication. Erin is from San Diego, enjoys hanging out at the beach and has a background in wildlife conservation biology. She joined AmeriCorps because she wanted to explore new coastal communities, engage locals with nature and the outdoors, and continue developing her skills in volunteer management.