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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.

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.

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!🚴🏽‍♂️🌿

A Story of Community Resilience

This article originally appeared in Saving Land Magazine.

During the summer, staff of the accredited Conservation Trust for North Carolina visited the small town of Princeville that has been repeatedly devastated by floodwaters. In 1999, Hurricane Floyd caused the Tar River to rise and the town was submerged. In 2016, Hurricane Matthew brought heavy flooding again. Princeville has yet to recover from either catastrophe.

This story is similar to the plight of many towns in North Carolina and across the country. Princeville is unique, though, in being the oldest town incorporated by African Americans in the nation. They were given few options for land on which to settle after emancipation. Since 1885, the people of Princeville have weathered many storms, and not just meteorological ones. Their resilience is deep, yet its limits are strained.

The town lies at the intersection of three issues that have been growing in urgency for CTNC: climate, community and equity.

Every piece of land we hope to protect is being affected by a more volatile climate. Not just hurricanes, as in Princeville, but also droughts, fires, infestations and other extremes. We have already incorporated climate resilience models into our planning. We must go further. Land conservation can help  with the rising climate crisis by storing carbon to reduce long-term effects and by providing increased natural resilience to inevitable changes.

We are inspired by the many land trusts who already make innovative connections between community needs and conservation. We commit ourselves to leading with questions before answers, and to working alongside neighbors often given no voice in decisions affecting them. The process of building trust will take years of work and lots of humility.

Humility also requires us to admit the limitations of conservation. Our system of land ownership and use has too often excluded and disregarded entire communities of people. Again, Princeville is symbolic. Our work must honor the stories of black, indigenous and other people of color who have felt the loss of access to productive land for living, farming and for preserving their heritage. Land is at the core of racial and other inequities. We must ensure that we don’t worsen those realities and ultimately help change the system for the better.

Our staff and board embrace this new strategic vision. It builds on CTNC’s history of bringing together uncommon alliances. Our goal is to conserve land in ways that inspire and enable people to build resilient, just communities. Led by our values, we will continuously learn, share, admit and care.

Many of our plans are new and yet to be verified. So we’ve entered our experiment mindful that it will often be more about how  we work than what  we do.

History dictated that Princeville be in the floodplain of a river. We can’t change history. But, using the power of community and conservation together, we can change the future.

Chris Canfield is the Executive Director of the Conservation Trust for North Carolina. Jamilla Hawkins is Chair of CTNC’s Board of Directors.

Conserving Whole Communities

CTNC partners with local leaders and nonprofits to create positive change in Princeville 

In 1885, a group of formerly enslaved African-Americans claimed a portion of land in Edgecombe County as their own. It was a somewhat swampy space next to the Tar River that had been largely ignored by their white neighbors. They were a people largely unwelcomed in the county seat of Tarboro, which lay just across the water. The area, now called Princeville, N.C. after a respected freed slave named Turner Prince, became the first town in the U.S. to be incorporated by African Americans. 

The space that African Americans called “Freedom Hill, little more than 1.5 square miles in size, has rightfully obtained a monumental place in the African American cultural memory. But this largely overlooked parcel has experienced two 100-year floods in the last 17 years. The strength of hurricanes Floyd (in 1999) and Matthew (in 2016) caused the Tar River to overflow into Princeville homes, business and community centers. 

The damage caused, and community members displaced, serve as a reminder of racism and inequality that permeates the heritage of North Carolina land and stretches back to the town’s founding more than 130 years ago.

Where Climate, Community and Equity Intersect

Community Development Initiative Tyran Hill discusses how organizations can find common ground to address communities’ needs.

Our work focuses on conserving land that will help communities adapt to a changing climate, seeding equity and inclusion throughout conservation, and working alongside communities to identify where conservation can meet their greatest needs. Each of our guiding priorities intersects within the town of Princeville. 

Chris Canfield, left, and Jamilla Hawkins, right

“We commit ourselves to leading with questions before answers, and to working alongside neighbors often given no voice in decisions affecting them.”

— Jamilla Hawkins, Vice Chair of CTNC’s Board of Directors and Chris Canfield, Executive Director of CTNC//

Through the Common Ground collaborative, Conservation Trust will partner with the NC Community Development Initiative and The Conservation Fund to work alongside the Town of Princeville and its people to plan for and eventually deliver smart land conservation.  These efforts must be paired with larger community-driven initiatives aimed at bringing true restoration and resilience to the community. 

By conserving land along this stretch of the Tar River, we can restore some of the natural floodplain of the region. That can help absorb water during flood events that might otherwise inundate homes and businesses.  

We must deliver land conservation in ways that honor the past of Princeville while strengthening its future. We will continually advocate for land access and inclusion and grow our understanding of existing injustices within the conservation sector. And we will support work that further develops the economic, social and cultural assets of the community.

Climate change is sadly inevitable, and the effects of climate change and extreme weather events will continue to impact Princeville and its people.

But Princeville is also a place with deep resilience among the people themselves. We promise to work beside and behind our Princeville neighbors with respect, humility and a willingness to learn. Because each time the water rises in Princeville, it meets a courageous group of people that calls the land “home.” 

Partnerships and collaboration like this emerging one in Princeville can create transformative change to promote a more just and resilient future for all North Carolinians.

A New Vision for Conservation

Our land is facing new threats.

It’s time to offer new solutions. 

From the Blue Ridge Parkway to the eastern coast of our amazing state, the Conservation Trust is working alongside communities to conserve land in ways that build resilient, just communities throughout North Carolina. 

We are committed to finding land-saving solutions that benefit all people. 

We need you to join us.

A bold new approach 

CTNC has developed a courageous new vision for conservation that is powered by the people of our state. Our work now focuses on addressing communities’ greatest needs: climate resilience in a changing state, conservation that is led by communities, and seeding an equitable sector that benefits all people regardless of race or economic status. 

CLIMATE: Climate change has increased the ferocity of extreme weather events like floods, mudslides, and fires, but it has also increased our drive to combat those effects. Our climate resilience strategy mitigates the effects of climate change by conserving land in North Carolina’s most vulnerable spaces.

EQUITY: CTNC is dedicated to seeding racial equality throughout every project, every investment, and every hire. Because all North Carolinians, regardless of race, should share in the benefits of healthy land. 

COMMUNITY: What does success look like? At the end of the day, saving land should help communities thrive. Securing more funding and support for land protection will strengthen the health, heritage, and economic ecosystems for all our communities. 

We need you 

Our conservation work needs to be relevant to the times we live in, meaningful to the people we work with, and effective for the future. We’re building a conservation movement powered by the people of North Carolina.

This new journey begins with you.

Will you join us?

Asheville Riverside Park

An Equitable Vision for Conservation

CTNC strives to seed equity and inclusion throughout the conservation community 

We’re born on the land. Eat food grown in it.  Drink water that flows over it. Build our communities within its hills, valleys, plains and rivers. There’s not a single aspect of our lives that’s not touched by land.

While land connects us all, it has also been used historically to separate us. Entire communities of people – especially people of color – have been intentionally displaced and excluded. That shared history of inequity means that collectively our conservation work does not benefit all people as we intend it to. 

If CTNC is to be successful building resilient, just communities, we must emphasize how racial equity can be seeded throughout our work.

From Diversity to Equity

For over a decade, we have focused on increasing the racial diversity within the conservation sector of North Carolina through the Diversity In Conservation Internship Program. The program was founded to create a pathway for rising leaders of color to find careers in conservation. Our work has not only connected many young people of color with a professional conservation network, it has also helped organizations understand their own role in promoting race equity in their culture and practice. 

“It’s really important for us to build these connections for youth of color in conservation because there isn’t a network like there is for other populations in conservation.”

Dawn Chávez, Asheville GreenWorks 

We all benefit from greater inclusion. 

While CTNC is proud of the strides made over the past decade, our collective history and the current state of conservation indicate that there’s still so much to be done. Our work must not only create pathways to employment for rising leaders of color, but also change our culture and practices. We must honor the stories of black, indigenous and other people of color who have felt the loss of access to productive land for living, farming and for preserving their heritage. 

CTNC understands that the historical legacy of conservation must be acknowledged in order to build more resilient, equitable communities for the future.

The stakes are high.

A conservation movement powered by people must include all people, not just those who have traditionally been seated at the head of the table. That’s why CTNC is committed to promoting equity through our work. Our vision is for all communities, regardless of race or economic status, to have a seat at the table.

Conserving land can be one facet of a larger effort to protect the stories, natural, and cultural heritage of historically marginalized communities across the state. 

2018 Diversity in Conservation Interns

CTNC is excited to welcome the 2018 Diversity in Conservation Internship Program participants!

Through this initiative, we hope to encourage future conservation leaders by providing professional development and networking opportunities and creating employment pathways to conservation careers with land trusts, nonprofits and government agencies.

Through this and other CTNC programs, we hope to contribute to a more equitable and diverse conservation sector that meets the needs of all North Carolinians no matter their race, gender, or background.

This year’s program was made possible in partnership with CTNC AmeriCorps, the Land Trust Alliance, and the United States Forest Service.

Meet our 2018 Diversity in Conservation Interns!

Khrystle Bullock
United States Forest Service

Khrystle Bullock is a RAPS Intern at the U.S. Forest Service in Washington, D.C. She has a background in public health and neuroscience with a concentration in health disparities and health equity. Her passions also include environmental justice, urban planning and infrastructure, and community engagement. She plans to use her experience and talents to connect the relationship between environmental health and public health with the goal to improve human health, especially those from under-resourced populations. She will be engaging D.C. youth in the importance of environmental innovations and how to be a good steward in their community.

Tamia Dame
Asheville GreenWorks

Tamia Dame is a student at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College in Asheville, taking classes to complete her degree in environmental management and policy at UNC-Asheville. Raised in rural Lenoir, N.C, Tamia has always had a love for mountains and the outdoors. This summer she will be serving as a Youth Education Leadership Program (YELP) assistant for Asheville GreenWorks, where she will help facilitate educational workshops and workdays with local environmental organizations for young people of color.

“I hope to build meaningful relationships, gain leadership skills, and make significant progress toward earning a North Carolina Environmental Educator Certification.”

Berekia Divanga
Triangle Land Conservancy

Berekia N. Divanga was born in Kinshasa, D.R.C. She currently resides in Raleigh, N.C., and attends Meredith College. Her majors are environmental sustainability and economics, including a minor in geoscience. During the summer of 2018, Berekia will be working as a community conservation asset analyst intern at the Triangle Land Conservancy.

“I hope to gain hands-on experience through this internship, which will guide me further toward my aspirational career path as an environmental economist.”

Brooks Falkner
Green Rural Redevelopment Organization (GRRO)

Brooks attends the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, studying business and public policy. This summer, Brooks is working in his home county with Green Rural Redevelopment Organization on a new program that provides produce to 50 participants who suffer from obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. In addition, he will be constructing a farm school, which will educate people in the community with the skills necessary for good farming practices.

“Through this internship, I hope to gain experience in managing and marketing a program as well as basic carpentry skills.”

Jendayi Joell, Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center

Jendayi Joell was born in Bermuda and raised between both the island and Winton, N.C. She is a recent graduate of North Carolina State University, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in environmental sciences with a minor in plant biology. This summer, Jendayii will serve as the Farm to School to Healthcare intern at the Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center, where she will communicate her knowledge of sustainable and organic farming practices to rural communities.

“I hope to continue to share my knowledge and experience about sustainable gardening and land conservation with the community and to continue to serve people and the environment.”

Elias Larson
Dig In! Yancey County

Born Ivan Rodriguez in Tulcan, Ecuador and adopted by U.S. citizens, Elias lived in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania for 18 years before coming to Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C. Elias is earning a double major in agriculture and history. He looks forward to working with Dig In! Yancey Community Garden working with community individuals to improve access to locally grown healthy food.

“I am looking forward to being in a more managing role and working with my organization skills to advance the area’s goals of a healthy sustainable food system.”

Tyler Potts
Conserving Carolina

Born in Akron, O.H., Tyler Potts has lived in 14 different places! Tyler currently calls Winston-Salem home where he attends the Wake Forest School of Law. He is a devout vegan who loves the environment. Tyler is a hockey player, was captain of his undergraduate team and captain of the Wake Forest club team, and his favorite activity is getting on the ice with friends.

“I am big into working out and make it a priority to do so five times each week. I also am an avid guitar player and when I am not working out or playing hockey, it’s usually guitar. I would love to one-day practice environmental law or family law!”

Chandler Whitfield
Coharie Tribe

Chandler Whitfield grew up in Clinton, N.C., and currently attends Fayetteville Technical Community College where he is pursuing a degree in criminal justice technology. This summer, Chandler is returning to the Diversity in Conservation Internship Program to work with the Coharie Tribe as their Great Coharie River Initiative Project intern.

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