Resilience Corps NC celebrates new partnerships

The Resilience Corps NC program recently launched its latest cohort of service members who will work in communities to deliver climate change, community resilience, capacity building, and environmental education services to host sites across the state. In order to make this the most successful year yet, CTNC has added and promoted staff, and welcomed 17 service members including four who have returned for their second year of service.

Here’s where our 2022-23 Corps members are serving:

Balsam Mountain Trust
Emily Taylor
Cape Fear River Watch
Kristen Rhodes
El Futuro
Maiya Garrett-Peters

Eno River Association
Audrey Vaughn

Grandfather Mountain
Stewardship Foundation
Elizabeth Warfield

Land Trust
Hope Corbin

Keeping Charlotte Beautiful
Lance Nathaniel

Keeping Durham Beautiful
Eleanor Dilworth

Meals on Wheels Durham
Lula Zeray

North Carolina Coastal
Land Trust
Madison Woodard
Bryce Tholen

North Carolina Zoo
Grace Sigmon
Mawadda Al-Masri
Sabrinah Hartsell

Piedmont Triad
Regional Council
Haley Bock

The Regional Stormwater
Partnership of the Carolinas
Kelly Hendrix (Norris)

Triangle J Council of Governments
Taylor Weddington

Read about more of our staffing and member updates below!

This year, Nick DiColandrea returns to CTNC in a new role – Climate Strategies Officer. In this new position, Nick will work with the leadership team to ensure Resilience Corps NC members are addressing community capacity and climate change challenges in all communities we serve. Learn more about Nick and why he’s committed to addressing climate change through CTNC’s mission and partnerships.

Please join us in extending congratulations to Michaella Kosia, who was recently promoted to AmeriCorps Program Director. Michaella will lead the Resilience Corps NC program by supporting host site supervisors and their members coordinating trainings, planning cohort connection events, building relationships, and strategizing other best practices for member sustainability. Michaella brings to this role a unique public health background where she worked to address health disparities amongst marginalized communities. Our partners and members are excited to work with Michaella in this new leadership role. Get to know Michaella and her passion for community-focused service work.

Credit: Bisi Cameron Yee

As part of our commitment to working alongside community partners to achieve resilience, CTNC and the Environmental Defense Fund will sponsor three additional members to work with community leaders with the Town of Princeville, the Lumbee Indian Tribal Council in Lumberton, and The Orchard at Altapass in Little Switzerland. These members will be focused on increasing community capacity, supporting local food systems through community gardening, and engaging in community outreach through a lens of climate change and land stewardship. Learn more about our Resilience Corps NC program.

Resilience Corps NC is still recruiting for the 2022-23 cohort!

Click here to explore opportunities and learn how to apply.

Climate Resilience Leaders – Nick DiColandrea

Nick DiColandrea isn’t new to CTNC. For six years, he served as the Resilience Corps NC Program Director. In 2022, he returned to a new role – Climate Strategies Officer, a position that still involves him with AmeriCorps. He works to connect AmeriCorps service opportunities to communities in need of expanded climate mitigation and recovery capacities.

This work builds on his extensive experience in the nonprofit sector, holding positions across multiple organizations dedicated to community capacity building, youth leadership, mentoring, and community service. His free time activities focused on service also follow this theme: Board Treasurer of the Museum of Life in Science in Durham, the school PTA as VP of Fundraising & Volunteer Chair, and as Board Treasurer of his neighborhood’s HOA.

When did you first realize the real and present impacts of climate change?
I probably realized we were living in a climate-change-affected world a few years ago when we stopped getting annual snow storms of any significance in North Carolina. Having grown up here since the late 1990s, I distinctly remember colder and wetter winters, and even during my time in college. However, over the last 10 years, I can trace the lack of an actual winter now, and how it has happened more times in the lives of my children than my entire life in the state.

How have you seen climate change impact North Carolina?
When the state was hit by multiple hurricanes over 2016 and 2017, I got to see firsthand, and still do to this day, the impacts these more frequent hurricanes are causing people down east. Working with other disaster relief partners, I have heard stories about how even years later people are living in homes not yet fully restored and families permanently displaced outside of our state. These devastating disasters will occur more frequently and are going to result in a state we may seldom recognize in the decades to come.

What does climate resilience mean to you?
Climate resilience is helping communities be able to bounce back stronger after the climate crisis hits their homes. It means assisting standing communities’ economies back up, working with families suffering from the loss of their community, or developing plans or actions that will lead to quicker recovery through mitigation. It essentially means being there for people in their communities who will suffer from climate change.

What’s one thing everyone should know about climate action?
That no matter how small your action is, it will make a difference. We do not affect meaningful changes with just big ticket items on climate action, but that light you turn off, that conversation with your best friend or that walk to take to the store instead of the drive, all add up in profound ways to address climate change.

What are actions that organizations in NC can do right now to make our state more resilient?
Be a part of the conversations around resilience in your community. Find where your mission niche is and see how it connects to environmental and community resilience, and then dig in and get to work. Mitigating and surviving the climate crisis is not going to be solved alone by environmental organizations, and it is going to take everyone in the community being a part of this work in the years ahead.

Working in climate resilience can be overwhelming. How do you keep going?
Lots of coffee and lots of positive thinking. I take more mental health breaks now, sitting for quick meditation moments, and stopping more to unplug from the work and just enjoy being.

Climate Resilience Leaders – Michaella Kosia

Michaella Kosia, AmeriCorps Program Director, comes to CTNC from an unexpected field: public health. She graduated from East Carolina University with a B.S. in Public Health and her background comes from other areas of public health, such as addressing health disparities amongst marginalized communities in community health.

She’s bringing her unique perspective to CTNC by supporting our Resilience Corps NC host sites and members during their service term by coordinating training, planning cohort connection events, building relationships, and strategizing other best practices for member sustainability.

When did you first realize the real and present impacts of climate change?
I probably first realized the real and present impacts of climate change back in the early 2000s. I remember Al Gore bringing attention to global warming. As a child, I didn’t realize the severity of it until years later, into adulthood. Because I’m a naturally curious person, I decided to begin educating myself on environmental issues such as global warming and the effects of climate change. Once I stepped into this area of awareness, I started to notice the changes in weather patterns. Now, it has been over 20 years since I was exposed to the topic and it has unfortunately worsened over time. I wish our country would have taken it more seriously earlier by being more proactive.

How have you seen climate change impact North Carolina?
With North Carolina being a coastal state, hurricane season in NC has become more active and it’s occurring earlier. Water levels are rising with more flooding on the coast, summers are extremely hot, and I even read that sharks are migrating closer to our shores due to the waters getting warmer.

What does climate resilience mean to you?
To me, resilience can be seeded through education on climate change, spreading awareness through that knowledge, supporting organizations who are focused on making a change and voting for elected officials who explicitly support addressing the climate crisis.

What’s one thing everyone should know about climate action?
It takes all of us! Although our individual efforts are necessary, we can truly move mountains as a collective.

What are actions that organizations in NC can do right now to make our state more resilient?

  • Make sure to include marginalized communities that are disproportionately impacted by climate change. I’ve observed that marginalized populations such as Black, Indigenous People of Color, immigrants, and those with special needs/disabilities tend to be left out of the conversation when they are experiencing higher/damaging levels of climate change. This can be done by having educational material in other languages, partnering with other organizations within said communities, making the educational material accessible (braille for those visually impaired, audible for those hard of hearing) etc.
  • Implement more options for staff in these organizations to work from home. Working from home would save on gasoline and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Implement more educational programs about climate change in our schools. Like Whitney Houston said, “..the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way”. We always want to leave the world better than we found it and this can be done through the next generations.

Working in climate resilience can be overwhelming. How do you keep going?

I do my best to prioritize my mental health whenever I feel overwhelmed. Walking our local trails, practicing mindfulness, eating well, and being intentional about spending time with friends and family.

Want to connect with Michaella? Email her.

AmeriCorps Profiles: Mawadda Almasri

A desire to live her life in service to others and the planet led Mawadda Almasri to Resilience Corps NC at the NC State Zoo in Asheboro, NC.

After graduating from NC State University with a degree in Sustainable Materials and Technology, she started her position as Diversity & Inclusion Assistant. “When I found the position with AmeriCorps, I knew it was a perfect opportunity for me to create a positive impact on the world.”

Learn more about Mawadda’s job and advice about AmeriCorps service.

What does your current service position entail?
My work mainly focuses on developing educational programs for under-resourced communities to educate them on climate change in a simple and engaging way. I’ve also put together an educational program on composting that can be presented to zoo guests in Kidzone, the zoo’s nature play area. In addition, I started a garden at the zoo, which will be used for educational workshops to emphasize the importance of growing our food.

What do you love about your current role?
I love creating programs. I enjoy deciding what information to include for the specific audience, how to organize the ideas to make them easily understood, what activities to incorporate, and what props to bring. But, for me, the best part is presenting the program to the audience and seeing them engage with the material and understand the concept.

What are the lessons you’ve learned since joining the program?
I’ve learned that things don’t always go according to plan, and that’s okay. Being an educator is about being flexible when there are last-minute changes or hiccups. I try to be patient with myself and remind myself of all I’ve accomplished.

What is your advice to others interested in AmeriCorps service?
Whatever your reason for joining AmeriCorps, always remind yourself of that reason throughout your service. Staying focused on it will keep you motivated and help you push through harder days. I always remind myself of how my service work is providing climate change education to children who might not otherwise get that education. That lesson might inspire those children to work in the environmental field.

What are your plans for the future?
I would love to stay in the environmental education sector, but I’m open to doing anything related to the environment that will allow me to make a positive impact. There isn’t a particular company or position I’m working toward, I just look and see what positions are available, and I apply to the ones that best align with my values and mission. I believe education is my calling, and I would love to focus more on educating people about various topics such as environmental justice, food waste and food insecurity, sustainable community gardens, consumerism and its impacts, and climate change and its impacts. At the end of the day, I know that as long as my work brings me joy and helps people and the planet, it will be a rewarding experience.

If you’re inspired by Mawadda’s story, click here to meet more Resilience Corps NC members (past and present) who are making an impact on communities throughout our state.

AmeriCorps Profiles: Abby Cates

Photo of Abby Cates holding worm

Expanding her personal and professional skills plus having a whole lot of fun, Abby Cates’ serves with North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro, NC through Resilience Corps NC.

Abby is one of 15 members of the 2022 Resilience Corps NC cohort. Learn more about the impact these members make while serving with community partners across our state.

Abby completed her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Sciences at Elon University before joining AmeriCorps. Now she’s serving as a Natural Areas Conservation and Education Coordinator for the largest natural habitat zoo in the world.

“I joined AmeriCorps to gain knowledge and skills within my field that would propel me into my future career goals,” said Abby.

Learn more about Abby’s job and advice about AmeriCorps service.

What does your current service position entail?
In my role, I conduct wildlife research on a variety of different species across 2,000 natural acres owned by the NC Zoo. I am also responsible for planning and leading environmental education programming for both children and adults. Lastly, I have become knowledgeable in the construction and maintenance of hiking trails, and I am in the process of building ~2 miles of trails on zoo property.

Photo of Abby Cates leading education opportunity for students

What do you love about your current role?
I love that I can be outside in nature most days and feel that I am making a difference with my various research and conservation work. I have always felt a strong connection to nature and this role allows me to both appreciate and protect what I cherish most.

What lesson have you learned since joining the program?
There is no direct route to any situation. This has forced me to think deeper and more creatively to solve more complex problems in the community. Also, not everyone will understand or support your work. I have learned to have patience and adapt to unfamiliar situations.

What do you wish people knew about working in conservation?
I wish people knew that there are people doing this kind of work! I have been confronted by many people who do not realize that my type of service is a career option. There is a demand for work in conservation as the importance of preserving natural land and wildlife is coming into the forefront of people’s minds. Conservation Trust for NC and the NC Zoo granted me an opportunity to start my career goals in a time when I didn’t know where to start.

What is something you wish people understood about working with communities in conservation?
I’ve learned that not all audiences will connect with you but that can’t let you feel defeated or stop you from trying. This role has allowed me to reframe my thinking around the best ways to spread information and inspire a community about local conservation. While this can be challenging at times, it is important to know how to best connect and inspire action in your audience.

What advice do you have for people thinking about AmeriCorps?
Do it! AmeriCorps is a perfect opportunity for people trying to figure out their personal and professional goals. They make it easy to find a host site and service opportunities that pertain to your specific interests.

What are your plans for the future?
I do not have any set-in-stone plans after my AmeriCorps year. However, I have always known that I wanted to be a steward of the Earth, whether that is through research, conservation, or education. I hope to share my skill set with others and create a meaningful impact on the places I travel and the people I meet. I hope to one day have my own land and develop a permaculture farm to create a standardized system that allows humans to work with nature rather than against it.

Eat your veggies!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Building Community, One Board at a Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome, AmeriCorps Members! 🌎🌿💧

CTNC is thrilled to introduce the AmeriCorps cohort for 2019!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

CTNC AmeriCorps Year 2 – The Numbers Are In!

AmeriCorps and national service programs unite people of all backgrounds, offering a transformative opportunity, and bringing unprecedented skills and willpower to solve local problems. AmeriCorps is essential to North Carolina’s positive quality of life.

CTNC AmeriCorps recently completed year 2 (2015-2016) of our AmeriCorps program, which seeks to reconnect people with the outdoors and to develop future leaders in conservation.

See what our 21 members achieved in the past 10 months!

  • Served 30,898 children and adults in environmental education
  • Recruited and managed 3,472 volunteers totaling 8,167 volunteer hours
  • Volunteer hours equated to a $192,408 donation of services to North Carolina communities

These members exceeded expectation – greatly expanding the number of individuals who showed an increase in knowledge of environmental issues. And AmeriCorps host sites achieved greater organizational capacity on volunteer management best practices because AmeriCorps members utilized volunteers in their programs.

Our members’ work spanned rural and urban communities reaching residents in 38 counties from Sylva to Durham to Manteo. Focused on environmental education and outreach, our 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 the state.

AmeriCorps works!

In 2017, CTNC launched year 3 of the AmeriCorps service program. Meet our 2017 AmeriCorps members!