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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!

Wilmington

Do your part to recreate responsibly!

As NC reopens, you can be a good steward to your local natural spaces

For months, North Carolinians have become familiar with staying home and staying inside as we navigated through the novel coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic impacted nearly every aspect of our lives and things are still changing on a weekly, or even daily, basis. This has caused a great deal of uncertainty as to how nature lovers can get back to their favorite natural spaces. As parks, trails, and forests begin to reopen, you may be confused as to how to navigate this “new normal” in the outdoors. 

As our state reopens the parks and natural spaces to greater recreation opportunities, how do we get back outside safely and responsibly?

A Short Checklist To Get Outside Safely

To help with these important questions, the #RecreateResponsibly Coalition has created a series of guidelines to help us all get outdoors safely.

While these steps may sound easy enough, some of the most beloved parkways in NC, including the Blue Ridge Parkway, are having extreme difficulties keeping the trails clean and visitor’s safely distant from one another. Overcrowding and visitors’ lack of preparation is hindering parks’ staff within our National to State and Local Parks from operating efficiently and maintaining a safe recreation environment for all North Carolinians. 

RECREATE RESPONSIBLY

  • Leave No Trace – Whatever you pack with you, take it back! Don’t leave behind trash on the beautiful parkway.
  • Know before you go – don’t be shocked by unexpected closures. Visit the Blue Ridge Parkway website to learn about road and facility closures to plan your visit ahead of time. 
  • Physical Distance – Find trailheads and overlooks that are not being overutilized. Go off the beaten path and explore their trail page to plan hikes to lesser known areas.
  • GO before you go – all restrooms and visitor centers will not be open until late in the summer. You get the idea…

These are manageable steps for creating a return to nature that is safe and accessible for every park-goer. We have a shared responsibility to care for these places and ensure they remain for future generations to enjoy.

We know everyone is eager to get back outside. So are we. But all North Carolinians must step up to play a role in keeping ourselves, and the trails we love, safe, resilient, and healthy.

Know before you go! Research campsites and trails that are less populated to enjoy a secluded summer experience.

Do your part to recreate responsibly.

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.

Summer Interns Seed Diversity and Inclusion Through Conservation

Meet our latest cohort of rising leaders of color who are making a difference with land trusts and conservation partners

As an organization, CTNC commits to seeding race equity and inclusion in all aspects of our work. We believe conservation, climate resilience and environmentalism must be intersectional to protect both the planet and all of its people. We understand that the land conservation sector has historically been a white space, and continues to be a predominantly white space, but we are dedicated to creating a more interconnected, racially and generationally-diverse community of conservation leaders. 

We’re proud to introduce the 2020 cohort of the Diversity in Conservation Internship Program. Although COVID-19 has altered the usual hands-on field work offered at the host sites, these interns will still become an integral part of the social fabric at each organization, working safely and responsibly. 

CTNC is committed to investing in the next generation of conservationists of color. Take a moment to meet our interns and learn about the work they’ll be undertaking this summer.


Joel-Cook

Joel Cook was born and raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He is a recent graduate of ECU’s masters program with his MA in underwater archaeology. This summer, he will be serving a second stint as the Gullah Geechee Corridor Project Coordinator with the NC Coastal Land Trust in Wilmington, North Carolina. In this role, Joel is responsible for managing the historic preservation of Reaves Chapel, a former AME church constructed in the mid-19th century. His goals for this summer are to continue to move forward with the renovation of the building and secure legal protection for the historic cemetery associated with it.

Anna Willis is a NC native from Lenoir, a town located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Anna is a graduate of Western Carolina University with a BS in Geology and a concentration in Hydrology. She will be interning with the Foothills Conservancy in Morganton, NC, which is close to her hometown. She will be assisting in field inventory of natural resources and property improvements, including taking photos for the baseline documentation reports for several conservation acquisition projects. Anna is looking forward to making a difference by being a part of a team and gaining experience in her field.

Raelin at Dig In!

Raelin Reynolds was born in Altamonte Springs, Florida, and raised in Burnsville, North Carolina, but considers Burnsville her hometown. Raelin is currently a student at Mayland Community College and is planning to major in Environmental Studies at The University of North Carolina at Asheville after receiving an Associates Degree of Science. This summer, Raelin will be interning for Dig In! Yancey Community Garden to train as an organic vegetable farm manager and community food system catalyzer. Some of her responsibilities include assisting in growing food at Dig In! to provide for residents of Yancey County while using resilient agricultural practices to do so. She is excited to gain more knowledge on sustainable and regenerative agriculture this summer.

Kobe Purdie is from Lumberton, North Carolina and is a rising senior at NC A&T State University in Greensboro, NC. Kobe is majoring in Environmental Studies while also working towards a certificate in Waste Management. This summer, Kobe will be interning with the National Park Service at The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where he will be working as an Interpretive Park Ranger. With NPS, Kobe will be working at the visitor’s center, managing the Mountain Farm Museum, developing and leading formal interpretive programs, and assisting with trail maintenance and condition assessments. Kobe hopes to gain vulnerable experiences and skills that will be useful in his professional career while also creating lasting connections.

Charmaine Pedrozo is a native of Jacksonville, Florida and a graduate from the University of Florida where she studied Wildlife Ecology and Conservation as an undergraduate student. Charmaine attended North Carolina State University for graduate school where she studied Natural Resources with a specialization in Outdoor Recreation. Charmaine will be working as an Environmental Education Intern with Horizons Unlimited in Salisbury, North Carolina this summer where she will be assisting the staff with virtual camps, preparing the materials to be delivered to the campers and collaborating with team members to virtually deliver the programs. Charmaine says this position caters to her passion of educating others about the environment and she is excited to have the opportunity to teach people all that she’s learned from years of working outdoors.

Chelsea Jackson-Dunlap was born and raised in Queens, New York. She currently attends Oakwood University, pursuing a degree in Nursing. After graduating from undergrad, she plans to get her Masters in Public Health and open up her own nursing clinic. This summer, Chelsea will be interning at Men & Women United for Youth and Families in Delco, North Carolina to promote environmental education and make it more accessible in minority communities. Chelsea will also be providing tools for youth to become leaders in the conservation, sustainability, and agricultural fields.

Phillip Ashe is an Asheville, NC native and plans to attend Abtech Community college in upcoming years. He will be a summer intern in his hometown with Asheville GreenWorks. GreenWorks is a grassroots urban forestry non-profit and Phillip will be a youth group leader in their educational program. Phillip is excited to gain experience, perseverance, and leadership skills while working to support his hometown community.

Irene managing the Garden Stewards remotely while under the guidance of her furry friend

Irene Velez-Londono is from Atlanta, Georgia and recently graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies with a minor in Urban Planning from UNC – Chapel Hill. Irene will be interning with Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center to help facilitate the yearly Farm to School to Healthcare Garden program. She hopes to inspire many high school students to become involved in environmentally-friendly gardening, cooking, and ultimately to see themselves as leaders. In the process, Irene hopes to learn from the center and the students, and apply the lessons learned in her hometown where she wishes to continue doing community engagement through sustainable practices.

We’re excited to welcome these brilliant individuals into the local conservation sector and are excited to see the wonderful work they’ll do this summer and in their future careers. CTNC promises to continue seeding race equity in conservation. Learn more about our initiative of creating a more just North Carolina and our mission of empowering young leaders of color. 

Standing for black lives

CTNC’s mission is to help build resilient, just communities. Our focus is conservation, because that is our expertise. But when people, especially people of color, do not feel safe, whether outdoors or in their own homes, then there can be no resilience. And certainly no justice. We stand with those calling for systemic changes to our laws, policies, and practices. No one should live in fear because of the color of their skin. Every person should be able to enjoy a resilient, just North Carolina.

CTNC’s board and staff have committed to changing our internal policies and practices in ways that build a more just North Carolina where all people share in the benefits of healthy lands. As part of this journey, we have committed to exploring the ways white privilege, white supremacy, systemic racism, and unjust practices intersect with our conservation work both personally and professionally.

For those looking for ways to take action, we’ve compiled a few resources for engagement and education about systemic racism, the racialized history of land, and how we as a conservation community can become strong allies to people of color.

On Racism and White Privilege

On race, the environment & the conservation movement

On dismantling systemic racism

CTNC acknowledges that we as an organization, a community, and individuals have much to learn about our own race equity practice but we share these resources with the hope of inspiring others to join us in holding ourselves and each other accountable for learning and growth.

If you’d like to start a conversation about the intersection of race and conservation or you’d like to learn more about our work to build a more resilient and just North Carolina – reach out to a member of our staff to get connected.

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.

CTNC partners to help shape Princeville’s resilient future

N.C. State’s Coastal Dynamics Design Lab Prepares a “Floodprint” in cooperation with the Town of Princeville. 

When CTNC shares resources, funding and expertise to help communities, we can create tangible change across the state. That’s exactly why we have partnered to co-create a vision for a resilient future for the citizens of Princeville, N.C.

Princeville, which is nestled just southeast of a bend in the Tar River, has been devastated by flooding for 100 years. A number of efforts over the years have outlined options for the town, but few have been community-driven and come through with committed resources.  That is where CTNC and our partners within the Common Ground collaborative come in. We found that researchers at North Carolina State University had earned the trust of the community through some community processes after Hurricane Matthew hit the town in 2016. They also had a model approach to planning that fit our vision and the town’s needs.

So CTNC and our partners garnered funding to support N.C. State’s Coastal Dynamics Design Lab in preparing a “Floodprint” in cooperation with the Town of Princeville. A Floodprint is a robust guide to strategic resilience planning – designed to achieve four goals: 1. to mitigate the impacts of flooding in Princeville, 2. to allow the public to access community assets, 3. to engage the local community, 4. and to create “excellent” design in the town. It is as much a process as a product.

This map details the flooding problem that devastates Princeville every year

Resilience planning is about being mindful of potential flood risk where areas have been historically impacted. When city and community planners develop strategies to assess and mitigate flood risk, they can develop a road-map to rebuild in a way that minimizes the damage to homes and other structures when flooding inevitably occurs again. 

A story of resilience for people, place, and culture. The challenges posed by the frequency and strength of hurricanes impacting communities across Eastern North Carolina are daunting for years after the water recedes. Due to its location in the crook of the Tar River, these flood events have left Princeville’s homes, schools, churches, and the Town Hall completely devastated. Princeville has been rebuilding for years, welcoming its people back home.  In January 2020, after a three-year hiatus, a newly renovated and flood-proofed Princeville Elementary School reopened to its approximately 200 students.

According to the N.C. State scientists leading the project, Andy Fox, Travis Klondike, and Madalyn Baldwin, the Floodprint project is “focused on design and programming strategies for celebrating and building community capacity around cultural and heritage-based tourism.” 

Cultural and heritage-based tourism is right. Princeville is filled with places that educate us all about its rich history and culture. From Freedom Hill, where formerly enslaved people first heard of their legal release from bondage, to a cemetery and numerous schools, those who’ve called Princeville home over the years treasure that material legacy.  Previous work by N.C. State students resulted in the construction of a mobile museum to share and protect the town’s historical legacy.

‘All great achievements require time.’

Maya Angelou

Princeville Town Manager Dr. Glenda Lawrence-Knight draws on this quote when referring to the budding relationship with CTNC. “Partnering with Chris Canfield and his team has been very uplifting. Despite it being challenging, it is understood that recovery is a process. A process that requires patience, time, energy and efforts toward great achievements.”

Dr. Knight added, “CTNC continues to mutually share with the Town in the recovery process of auspicious outcomes. Out of many, the most critical contribution is the immediate benefits of the floodprint plan that will grant the Town an opportunity to build a firm foundation with specific recovery guidance, address and tackle challenges during the research phase, promote collaboration, increase buy in into a shared vision for the future, ignite revitalization and most importantly, generate citizenship morale with recovery resilience. So, to this partnership derives greater hope, a clearer vision, resources, and results.

The Floodprint process is underway and expected to be finished in the fall of 2021. As it has already done, the project will continue to press forward with the approval, input and collaboration of community stakeholders and leaders.

“Princeville, for much of its history, has been so concerned about survival that historic preservation has been almost impossible,” said the Town of Princeville in an online statement. “Maybe the recent spotlight on Princeville will encourage the public (and potential funders) that the town is worth preserving.” 

Those words already seem to be ringing true. In January 2020, the town got word of $40 million in federal funding to improve levees around the town.  That work won’t solve all the threats faced by the town but it will likely encourage further investment to protect its history and future.

As an organization, CTNC’s board, staff, and partners are committed to standing alongside our Princeville friends as we work collaboratively to achieve lasting community resilience. Climate resilience is part of our lifeblood, as is community enhancement and the betterment of all people, especially those who have been traditionally excluded from the benefits conservation provides. We’re inspired and honored to continue this journey at the banks of the Tar River. 


The Floodprint effort is made possible with generous funding by Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and Duke Energy Foundation in partnership with The Conservation Fund and CTNC. If you are inspired by our community resilience work and want to make an investment in this future, please consider making a gift.

Are You Ready to Go Upstream?

Learn all about a new initiative to keep water sources around the Triangle safe and useable!

It’s because of clean water that small businesses can thrive, local farms are nourished and, above all, we all have clean water to use, drink and play in. So, how can we ensure it remains clean? To answer that, we have to look upstream.

Whether you need water to wash your dog or to have a nice refreshing drink, the one thing we all know is that our water needs to be clean. Clean water is a vital part of our everyday lives and through Upstream Matters, we can bring greater awareness to Raleigh’s water sources so we can keep it safe and clean for our communities. One of these water sources comes from the Upper Neuse River Basin, and making sure it’s well protected keeps our water clean for eating, drinking and playing.

Thankfully, there are programs and partnerships like the Upper Neuse Clean Water Initiative that work with local and state governmental agencies and landowners to keep our water clean and healthy.

Thanks to City of Raleigh water ratepayers, an average of about 57 cents of their water utility bill goes toward funding those programs that ensure our water remains clean.

Regardless of what your use for water is, you can be assured there are organizations actively working together to keep the upstream clean – and together we can continue to make it possible for them.

To learn more about why Upstream Matters, visit upstreammatters.org.

Upstream Matters is a collaborative campaign made possible by the Upper Neuse Clean Water Initiative partners including Conservation Trust for North Carolina, Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association, Eno River Association, The Conservation Fund, and Triangle Land Conservancy. 

Bikes, Water & Conservation

A group of young bikers engage in community, conversation and reflection along the Neuse River

If you can say you’ve biked 700 miles in 14 days, you’re in a pretty elite group. Last summer, 14 young adults accomplished that extraordinary feat as part of Triangle BikeWorks’  Spoke’n Revolutions “Bikes, Water & Soul” tour. Following the path of the Neuse River from its headwaters in Durham to the Atlantic coast, the teens explored some of our state’s robust natural resources 🏞 as well as its complex cultural heritage for people of color.

A video celebrating the “Bikes, Water & Soul” tour and all the young riders who took part in the journey

Triangle Bikeworks, a group that encourages youth of color to build community and courage through cycling programs, 🚲collaborated with Conservation Trust for North Carolina and Triangle Land Conservancy to take teens on the trip of a lifetime. Along the way, riders visited historical sites and spaces preserved by North Carolina land trusts. They also reflected on the connection between land, water and community resilience. 

A Triangle Bikeworks rider sports an “I am Revolutionary” tee shirt to commemorate Spoken Revolutions and the bike tour.

The CTNC team was proud to work with the young riders and help empower them to protect the land and water in their local communities. We understand that, in order to serve all communities through land conservation, we must invest in the power of people. 🙌🏻

Throughout the ride, the riders visited cultural and natural heritage sites along the Neuse River. They reflected on the complex relationships between land, water and people in the American south. 

Triangle Bikeworks riders learned about natural heritage along their journey.

Itza, a tour coordinator with Triangle Bikeworks, calls these types of trips “bike therapy.” 💕☀️

“There’s a lot of reflecting,” she says, “And sometimes you’re processing things you didn’t even know you had to process.”

Cindy, a student who participated in the bike tour, says it was an experience in independence. 

“A lot of my life has been doing what other people expect of me, like taking AP classes or trying out some clubs that I’m not really interested in,” she said during the tour. “This is something I really want for myself.”

Coach Lisa, a volunteer with Triangle Bikeworks, put it best:

“You guys don’t even realize how amazing you are,” she told the team of students. “Nobody’s going to push you, nobody’s going to pull you. Every hill, every valley, you’re going to be by yourself.” 

The Spoke’n Revolutions tour is only the start. We’d love to keep you updated on future CTNC partnerships and collaborations through our emails. So what are you waiting for? Get your hands dirty!🚴🏽‍♂️🌿

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