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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.

Americorps

CTNC AmeriCorps Members Gather Hundreds for MLK Day of Service

Each year, CTNC AmeriCorps members join a nationwide movement to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by participating in the annual Day of Service. In partnership with six host organizations in western North Carolina, the Triangle and coastal region, CTNC’s AmeriCorps members organized events that drew hundreds of volunteers to spend time outside and contribute to conservation projects in their local community.

Scroll down to see photos from each of the events where staff, AmeriCorps members and volunteers cleaned up a public nature preserve, collected oyster shells for a living reef installation, reforested open fields to revitalize habitat for wildlife and much more.

Anne Maxwell Ellett
Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association

Eighty people attended a clean-up event organized by Anne Maxwell to support stewardship of Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association’s Beaver Creek Marsh Preserve. The group worked on clearing invasive species (ivy and privet), collected multiple truck-loads of trash, and mended fences. More CTNC AmeriCorps members joined Anne Maxwell for the event including Emily Goetz, Bald Head Island Conservancy; Ashley Meredith, Durham Hub Farm; Joy-Lynn Rhoton, Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust; Kate Conery, NC Coastal Foundation; Reilly Kelly, NC Coastal Foundation; Lauren Huffstetler, Piedmont Triad Regional Council; Kayla Kohlmann, Piedmont Triad Regional Council; Molly Richard, Triangle Land Conservancy; Jade Woll, NC Coastal Land Trust.

Click here to see photos!

Kristin Gibson
North Carolina Coastal Federation

In partnership with Leadership Carteret, AmeriCorps member Kristin Gibson organized an event for 12 students to bag oyster shells. The effort totaled 200 bags that will help construct a living oyster reef. Volunteers were so dedicated, they stayed longer than necessary to get all the work done!

April Hausle
North Carolina Arboretum

AmeriCorps member April Hausle participated in a workday at Shiloh Community Garden in Asheville. Residents of the historically black community added mulch to the garden and completed a social justice art project where children cut out magazine photos to design a mural of the United States. Michelle Durr, who is serving at Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, also attended.

Jannette Morris
Eno River Association

An old farm field along the Eno River will be restored to its natural habitat after 100 volunteers gathered to plan 200 hardwood trees. Jannette Morris organized the tree-planting, which will contribute to cleaner water flowing from the Eno River into Falls Lake, the main drinking water source for Raleigh and eight other reservoirs.

Click here to see photos!

Bethany Sheffer
Balsam Mountain Trust

Representing CTNC AmeriCorps, Bethany Sheffer volunteered with Conserving Carolina’s Project Conserve members at Asheville’s Burton Street Community Peace Gardens. The event was led by DeWayne Barton, founder of Hood Huggers International, which offers sustainable strategies for building support pillars for resilient historically African American neighborhoods, providing a framework for community capacity building while increasing the effectiveness of existing service programs. The Burton Street Peace Gardens is a sanctuary for positive action, designed to create neighborhood food security, community cohesion and a vibrant, sustainable local economy.

Click here to see photos!

Jonathan Hill, Keep Durham Beautiful

In partnership with Duke Roundtable, a Duke University student service group, Jonathan Hill organized a litter clean-up recruiting 100 volunteers to participate in the Keep Durham Beautiful event.

Click here to see photos!

Dawn Keyser
Keep Durham Beautiful

AmeriCorps member Dawn Keyser organized two tree plantings that put 120 trees in the ground. Many of the 70 participants were students of the School of Science and Math and Emily K. Center volunteers.

Click here to see photos!

CTNC AmeriCorps is a 10-month national service program in environmental education and outreach. This program, along with CTNC’s N.C. Youth Conservation Corps and the Diversity in Conservation Internship Program are part of CTNC’s Emerging Leaders Program, which seeks to reconnect people with the outdoors and to develop future leaders in conservation. AmeriCorps members develop service projects that help remove barriers to environmental education throughout North Carolina, as well as help expand the diversity of backgrounds among conservation leaders in our state.

An Incredible Experience for Rising Conservation Leaders

More than 100 young adults completed the Conservation Trust for North Carolina’s Emerging Leaders Program this summer. As the N.C. Youth Conservation Corps (NCYCC), Diversity in Conservation Internship Program (DCIP) and CTNC AmeriCorps members concluded their experience, CTNC partnered with the N.C. State College of Natural Resources to organize a two-day professional development conference that would offer pathways to conservation career opportunities.

By the numbers:

  • 110 Emerging Leaders program members
  • 64 host site supervisors and parents
  • 18 job fair vendors
  • 16 professional development workshop sessions
  • 4 natural resources career panelists

Attendees gained professional development experience through a variety of college and career-readiness workshops designed for students at all education and career stages, from high school to post-college.

“I feel, as emerging leaders, these workshops are very important for us to understand and exhibit skills that will benefit us in the workplace,” said NCYCC member Fabian Martin-Bryan.

The conference featured a natural resources career panel, a campus tour and job fair, and keynote speakers who touted the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the conservation sector. Additional workshops allowed members to expand on skills ranging from financial literacy to communications, interview etiquette and best practices for networking. To conclude the conference, more than 20 interns from CTNC’s Emerging Leaders Program and the College of Natural Resources Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program presented their summer projects at an expo attended by conference attendees and their guests.

“The name of the conference definitely speaks for itself and the young adults who attended represented well,” Charles McCall, EDSI Solutions and job fair vendor.

The Emerging Leaders Program fosters future leaders in conservation, but it gives all members a truly unique experience in professional development.

DCIP participant Diamond McKoy said, “It brought so much gladness to my heart to see under-represented groups on the panel.”

The conference “provided a great networking opportunity for people on a variety of different educational and age backgrounds.” said Taylor Mebane, one of CTNC’s DCIP participants.

CTNC hired nearly 400 young adults over the past 10 years into paid conservation positions. CTNC and our partners are proud to cultivate and provide support to future conservation leaders.

See more photos from the Emerging Leaders Professional Development Conference on Facebook!


About CTNC’s Emerging Leaders Program

The Conservation Trust for North Carolina’s Emerging Leaders Program helps connect young people to the outdoors where they can establish a lifelong appreciation for the natural world and an understanding of the critical benefits that land and water conservation provides. Through the Diversity in Conservation Internship Program, CTNC AmeriCorpsN.C. Youth Conservation Corps and Future Leaders of Conservation advisory board, CTNC creates employment pathways by connecting young people to academic studies and careers in conservation.

Watch the video below to learn more about each program.

The Emerging Leaders Professional Development Conference is made possible by a generous grant from the Duke Energy Foundation as part of its focus on environmental education and conservation.

2017 Diversity in Conservation Interns

The Conservation Trust for North Carolina is excited to welcome the 2017 Diversity in Conservation Internship Program participants!

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

This summer marks a tremendous milestone as we celebrate the tenth year and more than 100 undergraduate and graduate students completing the program, while building diversity and equity in the entire conservation movement.

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

Meet our 2017 Diversity Interns!

Kimani Anderson, Blue Ridge Forever

Kimani Anderson was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. Anderson is a rising junior and a student athlete at University of North Carolina – Asheville, majoring in Political Science and Sociology. When not participating in track and field, Anderson serves as a peer mentor, member of the order of Pisgah, a member of the Political Science Club, and a member of the German club. This summer, he will be serving as a communications intern for Blue Ridge Forever.

Genevieve Barnes, NC Coastal Land Trust

Genevieve Barnes, a native of Raleigh, is currently completing her second year of graduate school at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, pursuing a graduate degree in Communication Studies. This summer she will be working with NC Coastal Land Trust as their Marketing and Development Intern. This summer will provide Barnes the opportunity to gain experience in research and writing, while learning about NC coastal communities and conservation.

Gabrielle Benitez, Eno River Association

Gaby Benitez was born and raised in Austin, TX, and moved to Durham to attend Duke University. Graduating in May 2016, Benitez earned dual degrees in Biology and Environmental Science and Policy. She recently completed a Resident Naturalist internship at the University of Georgia’s satellite campus in Monteverde, Costa Rica. This summer she will be working with the Eno River Association as the Education and Outreach Program Assistant, developing summer programming such as the Festival for the Eno and the iWalk Eno summer camp.

Erin Bishop, United States Forest Service

Erin Bishop is a Chapel Hill native graduating from the University of North Carolina-Asheville with a B.S. in Environmental Policy and Management and a minor in Economics. Erin is currently earning her master’s degree in Environmental Policy and Analysis at Appalachian State University researching the California Air Resource Board’s carbon offset compliance program. This summer, Bishop will be working at the United States Forest Service in Washington, DC as their Volunteer and Service Resource Assistant.

Emma Bouie, North Carolina Sea Grant

Emma Bouie was born in Scotch Plains, NJ, and moved to Raleigh when she was ten-years-old. She is currently a senior at East Carolina University earning a B.S. in Geology. This summer Emma will intern with North Carolina Sea Grant, where she will be assisting with coastal landscape restoration. Her responsibilities will include marketing and communicating with plant nurseries and community partners.

Khrystle Bullock, United States Forest Service

Khrystle Bullock is a RAPS Intern at the US Forest Service in Washington DC. 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 underserved populations. She will be engaging DC youth in the importance of environmental innovations and how to be a good steward in their community.

Melina Casados, Dig In! Yancey Community Garden

Melina Casados, from Lexington, NC, is a rising senior at Elon University where she studies Creative Writing and Communications. She has a passion for healthy living and is excited to be interning with Dig In! Yancey Community Garden this summer. Through her internship, Melina will help address food insecurity and learn about, advocate, and practice sustainable farming. She hopes to gain a better understanding on how to help spread the love for good food within communities.

Aaron Cinque, Piedmont Land Conservancy

Aaron Cinque, who lives on a small farm in Seagrove, NC with his wife, recently graduated from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical States University with a B.S. in Sustainable Land Management. This summer, Aaron will serve as the Communications and Conservation intern with Piedmont Land Conservancy. Cinque will help actively manage land under conservation easement and engage with the greater community to promote land protection and natural resource management.

Tamia Dame, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy

Tamia Dame is a native of Lenoir, NC and has been living in Asheville for the last two years. Currently she is a sophomore at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College where she majors in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Management and Policy. This summer she will serve as a Communication, Education, and Outreach Intern with the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy dedicated to environmental sustainability and agriculture.

Kenneth Dunn, North Carolina State University

Kenneth Dunn was born and raised in Durham. He recently completed his undergraduate degree in Environmental Science from North Carolina State University and will be pursuing his graduate degree in Forestry this fall. This summer he will work at NC State as a Natural Resources intern, performing forest management and GIS work.

Jendayi Joell, Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center

Jendayi Joell was born in Bermuda, and raised between both the island and Winton, NC. She is a senior majoring in Environmental Science with a minor in Plant Biology at North Carolina State University. This summer, Joell will serve as the Farm to School to Healthcare Internship at the Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center, where she will communicate her knowledge of sustainable and organic farming practices to rural communities.

Khidhar McKenzie, Appalachian Trail Conservancy

Khidhar McKenzie lives in Stone Mountain, GA and is a senior at Tuskegee University where he majors in Agricultural Business. This summer he will be working with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy as their Conservation Leadership intern at both their Gatlinburg, TN and Asheville, NC offices.

Diamond McKoy, Men and Women United for Youth and Families

Diamond McKoy is a native of Council, NC where she lived until moving to Hope Mills, NC in 2012. She is currently a sophomore at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill where she is earning a dual major in Business Administration and African American Studies with a minor in Sustainability Studies. This summer she serve as the Youth Ambassadors Summer Program Team Leader with Men and Women United for Youth and Families to provide fresh produce for the community.

Taylor Mebane, United States Forest Service

Taylor Mebane was born in Ft. Hood, TX but has since lived in six other states and one country. Taylor is a recent graduate of North Carolina State University where she earned a B.S. in Environmental Technology and Management. Over the next few months, Taylor will be a Conservation Education Resource Assistant for the US Forest Service in Washington, D.C where she will work on a number of projects and programs geared toward public education of conservation.

Destiny Pratt, Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture

Destiny Pratt was born and raised in Bronx, NY. She currently lives in Greensboro, NC and is a sophomore studying Biology with a minor in Chemistry at Appalachian State University. Pratt will be the Local Food Systems Coordinator as the Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture working on their CRAFT program alongside the Watauga Food Council and Watauga Seed Library.

Valentina Quintero, Ellerbe Creek Water Association

Valentina Quintero was born in Caracas, Venezuela and raised in Madison, Alabama. A student at North Carolina State University’s College of Natural Resources, Val studies Environmental Technology and Management with a minor in Renewable Energy Assessment. Quintero will be serving as the Stewardship and Outreach Assistant for the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association this summer where she will help organize events.

Jennifer Scott, NCState Historic Preservation Office

Jennifer Scott grew up in Fayetteville, NC, and graduated from Salem College with a B.A. in History and English. She earned a M.A. in Public History at University of North Carolina-Wilmington, where she focused on the histories of underrepresented communities. Jennifer recently completed her M.L.S., with an emphasis on digital libraries, at North Carolina Central University. She is the proud mother of a daughter and twin sons. This summer, Jennifer will intern with the State Historic Preservation Office as the NC Rosenwald Schools Publication Research Assistant.

Guido Shutz, Mainspring Conservation Trust

Guido Schutz was born in Germany, and has also lived in the USA, Mexico, and Argentina. He is currently majoring in Environmental Studies (B.S.) and minoring in Business Administration at Elon University. This summer, he will be working with the Mainspring Conservation Trust doing GIS and Aquatic Biomonitoring work in the Nantahala National Forest.

Chandler Whitfield, Coharie Tribe

Chandler Whitfield grew up in Clinton, NC, and currently attends Fayetteville Technical Community College where he is pursuing a degree in Criminal Justice Technology. This summer he will be working with the Coharie Tribe as their Great Coharie River Initiative Project intern.

2017 Diversity in Conservation Interns

Meet our 2017 Interns!

The Conservation Trust for North Carolina is excited to welcome the 2017 Diversity in Conservation Internship Program participants! Through this initiative we hope to encourage future conservation leaders by creating employment pathways to careers with land trusts, nonprofits, and government agencies.

This summer marks a tremendous milestone as we celebrate the tenth year and more than 100 undergraduate and graduate students completing the program, while building diversity and equity in the entire conservation movement.

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

Kimani Anderson, Blue Ridge Forever

Kimani Anderson was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. Anderson is a rising junior and a student athlete at University of North Carolina – Asheville, majoring in Political Science and Sociology. When not participating in track and field, Anderson serves as a peer mentor, member of the order of Pisgah, a member of the Political Science Club, and a member of the German club. This summer, he will be serving as a communications intern for Blue Ridge Forever.

Genevieve Barnes, NC Coastal Land Trust

Genevieve Barnes, a native of Raleigh, is currently completing her second year of graduate school at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, pursuing a graduate degree in Communication Studies. This summer she will be working with NC Coastal Land Trust as their Marketing and Development Intern. This summer will provide Barnes the opportunity to gain experience in research and writing, while learning about NC coastal communities and conservation.

Gabrielle Benitez, Eno River Association

Gaby Benitez was born and raised in Austin, TX, and moved to Durham to attend Duke University. Graduating in May 2016, Benitez earned dual degrees in Biology and Environmental Science and Policy. She recently completed a Resident Naturalist internship at the University of Georgia’s satellite campus in Monteverde, Costa Rica. This summer she will be working with the Eno River Association as the Education and Outreach Program Assistant, developing summer programming such as the Festival for the Eno and the iWalk Eno summer camp.

Erin Bishop, United States Forest Service

Erin Bishop is a Chapel Hill native graduating from the University of North Carolina-Asheville with a B.S. in Environmental Policy and Management and a minor in Economics. Erin is currently earning her master’s degree in Environmental Policy and Analysis at Appalachian State University researching the California Air Resource Board’s carbon offset compliance program. This summer, Bishop will be working at the United States Forest Service in Washington, DC as their Volunteer and Service Resource Assistant.

Emma Bouie, North Carolina Sea Grant

Emma Bouie was born in Scotch Plains, NJ, and moved to Raleigh when she was ten-years-old. She is currently a senior at East Carolina University earning a B.S. in Geology. This summer Emma will intern with North Carolina Sea Grant, where she will be assisting with coastal landscape restoration. Her responsibilities will include marketing and communicating with plant nurseries and community partners.

Khrystle Bullock, United States Forest Service

Khrystle Bullock is a RAPS Intern at the US Forest Service in Washington DC. 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 underserved populations. She will be engaging DC youth in the importance of environmental innovations and how to be a good steward in their community.

Melina Casados, Dig In! Yancey Community Garden

Melina Casados, from Lexington, NC, is a rising senior at Elon University where she studies Creative Writing and Communications. She has a passion for healthy living and is excited to be interning with Dig In! Yancey Community Garden this summer. Through her internship, Melina will help address food insecurity and learn about, advocate, and practice sustainable farming. She hopes to gain a better understanding on how to help spread the love for good food within communities.

Aaron Cinque, Piedmont Land Conservancy

Aaron Cinque, who lives on a small farm in Seagrove, NC with his wife, recently graduated from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical States University with a B.S. in Sustainable Land Management. This summer, Aaron will serve as the Communications and Conservation intern with Piedmont Land Conservancy. Cinque will help actively manage land under conservation easement and engage with the greater community to promote land protection and natural resource management.

Tamia Dame, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy

Tamia Dame is a native of Lenoir, NC and has been living in Asheville for the last two years. Currently she is a sophomore at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College where she majors in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Management and Policy. This summer she will serve as a Communication, Education, and Outreach Intern with the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy dedicated to environmental sustainability and agriculture.

Kenneth Dunn, North Carolina State University

Kenneth Dunn was born and raised in Durham. He recently completed his undergraduate degree in Environmental Science from North Carolina State University and will be pursuing his graduate degree in Forestry this fall. This summer he will work at NC State as a Natural Resources intern, performing forest management and GIS work.

Jendayi Joell, Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center

Jendayi Joell was born in Bermuda, and raised between both the island and Winton, NC. She is a senior majoring in Environmental Science with a minor in Plant Biology at North Carolina State University. This summer, Joell will serve as the Farm to School to Healthcare Internship at the Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center, where she will communicate her knowledge of sustainable and organic farming practices to rural communities.

Khidhar McKenzie, Appalachian Trail Conservancy

Khidhar McKenzie lives in Stone Mountain, GA and is a senior at Tuskegee University where he majors in Agricultural Business. This summer he will be working with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy as their Conservation Leadership intern at both their Gatlinburg, TN and Asheville, NC offices.

Diamond McKoy, Men and Women United for Youth and Families

Diamond McKoy is a native of Council, NC where she lived until moving to Hope Mills, NC in 2012. She is currently a sophomore at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill where she is earning a dual major in Business Administration and African American Studies with a minor in Sustainability Studies. This summer she serve as the Youth Ambassadors Summer Program Team Leader with Men and Women United for Youth and Families to provide fresh produce for the community.

Taylor Mebane, United States Forest Service

Taylor Mebane was born in Ft. Hood, TX but has since lived in six other states and one country. Taylor is a recent graduate of North Carolina State University where she earned a B.S. in Environmental Technology and Management. Over the next few months, Taylor will be a Conservation Education Resource Assistant for the US Forest Service in Washington, D.C where she will work on a number of projects and programs geared toward public education of conservation.

Destiny Pratt, Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture

Destiny Pratt was born and raised in Bronx, NY. She currently lives in Greensboro, NC and is a sophomore studying Biology with a minor in Chemistry at Appalachian State University. Pratt will be the Local Food Systems Coordinator as the Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture working on their CRAFT program alongside the Watauga Food Council and Watauga Seed Library.

Valentina Quintero, Ellerbe Creek Water Association

Valentina Quintero was born in Caracas, Venezuela and raised in Madison, Alabama. A student at North Carolina State University’s College of Natural Resources, Val studies Environmental Technology and Management with a minor in Renewable Energy Assessment. Quintero will be serving as the Stewardship and Outreach Assistant for the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association this summer where she will help organize events.

Jennifer Scott, NCState Historic Preservation Office

Jennifer Scott grew up in Fayetteville, NC, and graduated from Salem College with a B.A. in History and English. She earned a M.A. in Public History at University of North Carolina-Wilmington, where she focused on the histories of underrepresented communities. Jennifer recently completed her M.L.S., with an emphasis on digital libraries, at North Carolina Central University. She is the proud mother of a daughter and twin sons. This summer, Jennifer will intern with the State Historic Preservation Office as the NC Rosenwald Schools Publication Research Assistant.

Guido Shutz, Mainspring Conservation Trust

Guido Schutz was born in Germany, and has also lived in the USA, Mexico, and Argentina. He is currently majoring in Environmental Studies (B.S.) and minoring in Business Administration at Elon University. This summer, he will be working with the Mainspring Conservation Trust doing GIS and Aquatic Biomonitoring work in the Nantahala National Forest.

Chandler Whitfield, Coharie Tribe

Chandler Whitfield grew up in Clinton, NC, and currently attends Fayetteville Technical Community College where he is pursuing a degree in Criminal Justice Technology. This summer he will be working with the Coharie Tribe as their Great Coharie River Initiative Project intern.

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