About Project Conserve
The North Carolina Arboretum Society - Citizen Science Educator
Ericka is a native of Western North Carolina, and has spent most of her life in this wonderful area. From the get go she has enjoyed the outdoors, but didn't really start to pursue this passion until college at Mars Hill University. She has always loved the natural sciences, so choosing Biology as her course of study was an easy decision. During her time at Mars Hill she chose a concentration in Ecology and Field Biology, and also chose to minor in Regional Studies. She has a particular interest in the natural and cultural history of the Southern Appalachians. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in 2014 and has been hopping from place to place gaining experience in the Environmental Education field. Ericka is extremely excited to be serving as the Citizen Science Educator at the North Carolina Arboretum, and interact with the WNC community in hopes to inspire an interest in the natural world. In her free time, Ericka loves to go hiking, hammocking, spend time with family and friends, and color!
Education Coordinator - RiverLink
Micaela Hyams grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, a place that instilled in her a love and respect for the environment. After high school Micaela spent a gap year doing conservation work with Canyon Country Youth Corps and backpacking and sea kayaking with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). These experiences inspired Micaela’s academic path and, after a year at Washington University in St. Louis, Micaela transferred to the University of Oregon to enter the Environmental Science major, with a focus on life sciences. It was through this program that Micaela had the opportunity to participate in the Environmental Leadership Program as a facilitator for Canopy Connections, an environmental education service learning course. Additionally, after taking a course in analyzing the efficacy of international environmental policies, Micaela chose to add Political Science as a second major. Micaela continues to be fascinated by the intersections between Environmental Science and Political Science--between human and non-human systems--and frequently finds that her background in one informs her approach of the other. With that fascination in mind and her belief in the power of environmental education, Micaela is beyond excited to be serving with Project Conserve as the Education Coordinator for RiverLink, where she facilitates watershed education for K-12 students in the French Broad watershed.
Mills River Partnership - Watershed Outreach & Education Coordinator
Emily was born in Virginia Beach, Virginia, but raised in North Carolina from the age of two. As a child, she lived sporadically from the Appalachian mountains to the Atlantic coast of NC, and actually spent the past five years in the Piedmont region while attending The University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She originally did not seek the environmental path straight out of high school, but she has always loved science! Following her Associate’s degree, Emily was very fascinated by medicine, and dedicated her entire undergraduate studies to the Pre-Medical track; however, unbeknownst to her, she enrolled in an elective that would forever change her life. During her last undergraduate semester, the course, Ecological Feminism, was unlike any course she had taken before. The information was so powerful and enlightening, that it completely transformed her as a person. Emily found her calling in Conservation after she redirected her path in life to reflect her passion for protecting the planet’s natural resources and ecosystems from human exploitation and pollution. As an AmeriCorps Project Conserve member, Emily is serving as the Watershed Outreach and Education Coordinator for Mills River Partnership. She is very excited to be back in western NC gaining environmental skills and experience and anticipates the abundance of knowledge she will gain within the Mills River Watershed. When she's not in the mountains somewhere, you can find her in Hendersonville collecting trash/recycling, cuddling with her three cats, walking her dog, or demolishing delicious food!
Environmental Quality Institute (EQI) - Volunteer Coordinator
Madelyn grew up in various counties in Western North Carolina and now resides in Buncombe Co. She grew up mostly in Madison County and it was there that she fell in love with nature. From hiking the mountain in her backyard to creeking in the laurel river at the edge of the property, she easily fell in love with all aspects of nature, and with natural science. Madelyn attended the University of North Carolina Asheville and while there her major changed various times over the next 4 and a half years. Starting in Chemistry, she then moved on to geology, and mineralogy, than to botany, than zoology, and finally came to settle down in Environmental Ecology. Graduating in December of 2015, she took a year off to take care of her grandmother, during which she volunteered as much as possible and through volunteering met Preston, whom got her interested in AmeriCorps. She plans to go on to get her Masters in Entomology after completing her term(s) with Project Conserve.
Polk County Office of Agricultural Economic Development - Conservation Education & Outreach Coordinator
Alex hails from the idyllic suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. After graduating from the University of Georgia with degrees in International Affairs and Arabic, he spent two years researching and working on refugee issues in Jordan and another year teaching at the American University of Iraq – Sulaimani. Seeking a change of scenery, he left the Middle East to explore the hidden corners of Europe. During his wanderings, he discovered a passion for farming while working on a goat dairy in Sweden. Alex spent the next three years in Washington state learning to farm and gaining a deep appreciation for responsible land stewardship. He is excited to work with the farmers of Polk County to help preserve the agrarian traditions of the area and to bring more young farmers on to the land.
Appalachian Voices - Energy Savings Outreach Associate
Katie grew up in the suburban jungle of Northern Virginia, but she has fond memories of family trips to the mountains and hiking on the Appalachian Trail. She moved to Pennsylvania to attend the University of Pittsburgh, graduating in 2016 with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Economics. At Pitt, she was involved in student organizations advocating for gender equality and sustainability. As a student, she also participated in a summer field course on plant diversity in southwestern Virginia. This experience rekindled her childhood interest in the Appalachian Mountains. She is excited for the opportunity to get to know the region better and to join App Voices as the AmeriCorps Energy Savings Outreach Associate!
Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy - Stewardship & Volunteer Associate
For many years, Ben's path has been guided by a single question, “How can he meaningfully contribute to ecological sustainability?” This path began back in Kirksville, Missouri, where Ben grew up playing in the woods and creeks and was fascinated by all the plants and little critters he found. This led him to pursue a degree in environmental studies at Warren Wilson College (WWC) here in Asheville, NC. It was at WWC that he took on many roles in order to explore his guiding question. Some of these roles include: campaign director, ecological field researcher, EPA intern, community and student organizer. In the fall of 2013 He founded the student environmental organization ‘ecoLibrium.’ The group focused much of their attention on a campaign to divest Warren Wilson's endowment from fossil fuels. In the fall of 2015 WWC's board of Trustees announced that they were going to divest the college's endowment from fossil fuels. In the summer of 2014 Ben worked as a Team Leader for 'Climate Summer”, where as he assisted with sharing information and connecting communities across Massachusetts in order to build opposition to a proposed natural gas pipeline. In May of 2016 Kinder Morgan renounced their pipeline plans. Throughout his time at the WWC Ben participated a broad range of service including: river cleanups, ecological field research, and a weeklong alternative break trip to Pine Ridge, SD. Ben also organized several service trips including trips to Washington, D.C.; New York City, NY; Atlanta, GA and week-long break trip to learn about mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia. Last summer Ben Interned at the wetlands enforcement section of the EPA in New York City, NY. This past Summer he biked from Camden, ME to Seattle, WA all the while interviewing professors and activists and collecting stories of climate change and environmental degradation. Ben is excited to be back in the culturally vibrant and ecologically diverse region of southern Appalachia working as a Stewardship and Volunteer Coordinator for the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy.
Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy - Stewardship Associate
Kate Lis was born and raised in central Massachusetts. She then moved to Boone, NC after high school where she realized an appetite for the great outdoors. Unsure of what to study, she decided to leave Boone as a freshman at Appalachian State University and live, work, and climb the wild Midwest of Wyoming and Colorado. There she studied a little graphic design and realized that commercialized art was not for her. In Colorado, Kate first experienced conservation work with long days on the Great Thompson River removing Russian olive trees. Recognizing her love for the more welcoming WNC Mountains, and overwhelmed by the greatness of the west, Kate returned to Boone with an interest in biology and finished her studies in Ecology, some biochemistry, and GIS. In the midst of her university education Kate worked in the outskirts of the Amazon in Ecuador for a cacao pollination study, volunteered for the Blue Ridge Parkway, and spent time in both the ASU Cliff Ecology and Plant-Insect Interactions labs helping in the field, rearing plants, genetic analysis, and chemistry work. Kate will be serving as a stewardship associate for CMLC helping with restoration projects and conservation efforts, building bonds with nature and volunteers.
Asheville GreenWorks - Clean Communities Coordinator
Lillian was born and raised on her family farm in a rural farming community called Efland, NC. Her involvement in 4-H clubs and growing up playing in streams and the woods led her to pursue an education related to biology. In 2016, she received her B.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of North Carolina at Asheville. She decided that the mountains of western NC felt more like home than any other part of North Carolina she had been to, and decided to stay and explore them for another year. Lillian is excited to join AmeriCorps Project Conserve as a Clean Communities Coordinator for Asheville Greenworks, and can't wait to make a positive impact on the WNC community! In her spare time, Lillian can be found playing volleyball, running, swimming, wildcrafting, cooking, gardening, spending time with friends, camping, and petting any dogs who will allow it.
MountainTrue - Forest Keeper Coordinator
Laura was born and raised in South Shore Massachusetts on the beautiful North River. Growing up, she was always interested in being outside, climbing trees and exploring nature. In high school she volunteered with her local watershed association, the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, where she was first introduced to non-profits, environmental research and community outreach. After high school, Laura decided to stay in MA to be close to her family and set off to get an Environmental Science degree with a minor in Conservation at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. While at UMass, she helped with a research project to explore the effects of lawn mowing on insect diversity. She also held a GIS Research Assistant position where she focused on stream ecology, land use and light pollution. Upon graduation she started working at a Civil Engineering and Landscape Architecture firm and helped with the various permitting, design, land survey and CAD drafting that goes into these projects. After 2 years there, she decided that it was a time for a change. This year Laura is thrilled to serve as the Forest Keeper Coordinator at MountainTrue for the AmeriCorps Project Conserve. Laura is very excited to learn more about the ecology of Western North Carolina and engage the community in various conservation and restoration efforts. She’s very interested in the relationship between humans and the environment. In her spare time, Laura loves to go outside, spend time with friends and family, and play disc golf!