About Project Conserve
Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy - Stewardship & Volunteer Associate
Anona was born in Bamberg, South Carolina - a small rural town about an hour north of Charleston, SC. For 18 years she lived out in the country where she would frolic in the woods during her spare time. Her mother (a horticulturalist) and her father (an agriculture researcher) raised her with a deep respect and love for nature. In search of an adventure, after graduating high school she ran off to the mountains of North Carolina to attend Appalachian State University. For 4.5 years she studied Ecology and Environmental Science. Along the way she dabbled in different areas of biological research but began to feel that research was not the career with which she could make the greatest impact. After graduating she worked for the Blue Ridge Parkway as a 6-month seasonal Biological Science Technician. She had a great time, learned a ton, and fell in love with Appalachia even more. One of Anona's greatest interests is travel. After her position with the Parkway ended she decided to backpack Europe by herself for 4 months so she could see cool art, eat food with names she couldn't spell, and meet amazing people. After returning to the US she spent some time working at a hostel in Seattle and roadtripping cross-country in a big blue van called The Whale. Eventually she decided it was time to return to Appalachia and her passion for conservation. Anona will be serving as a Land Stewardship and Volunteer Associate at Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy in Asheville, North Carolina. She couldn't be happier to be back in the Appalachian Mountains working to protect the land she loves!
Asheville GreenWorks - Volunteer Coordinator
Kate Nelson grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Throughout her life, she frequently visited Western North Carolina and developed a deep appreciation for its natural areas. Kate's appreciation for the outdoors continued to grow as she attended the University of Florida, and received a B.S. in Natural Resource Conservation, with a minor in Anthropology. During her time at UF, she conducted research on the Florida Scenic Trail to help develop better trail management techniques through user surveys. However, her work with Kids in the Woods, an environmental education program designed to get students out in nature more, really confirmed she was on the right path. Sensing a growing disconnect between adolescents and nature, Kate realized the importance of instilling environmental stewardship in future generations, and knew she wanted to continue on the path of education. After graduation in early May, Kate traveled all around the country, getting to see some spectacular places. Now that she is done exploring, she can't wait to begin as the Environmental Education and Outreach Coordinator for Asheville GreenWorks. Kate hopes to impact as many people as she can, while learning more about herself and the wonders of Western North Carolina. If you can't find Kate, she is probably somewhere high up in a tree, on a mountain, or bothering her beloved cat, Louie.
Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy - Volunteer & Community Engagement Associate
Madison grew up in Charlotte, NC but was ready for a change of scenery and ventured off to the Blue Ridge Mountains to University of North Carolina at Asheville. She knew she wanted to save animals and the environment, but wasn’t sure how to do so. The road to her major changed constantly – Photojournalism, Creative Writing, Environmental Studies, New Media... She finally decided to take advantage of UNC Asheville’s option to create your own major. Through the Interdisciplinary Studies program option she proposed, and received, a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies with an Individual Degree Concentration titled Environmental Non-Profit Communications. The major is a combination of Environmental Studies; Literature and Language; and Sociology. Her senior year of college she held an internship at Brother Wolf Animal Rescue as their Operations and Outreach Intern. While there she was able to further cultivate her future goals, and knew she wanted to work in a position similar to volunteer coordination. Although Madison’s love for animals is truly her passion, she wants to adventure further into the natural world as a whole, and is excited to serve as the Volunteer and Community Engagement Associate with Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy in Hendersonville. While serving she hopes to experience more of Western North Carolina with the great people she will meet.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park - Citizen Science Associate
Natalie was born in the suburbs of northern New Jersey. She left the northeast to pursue an undergraduate degree in Natural Resource Management at The Ohio State University. Those four years in the Midwest allowed Natalie to experience different ways of life, particularly in the rural setting due to a couple summers spent working in southeast Ohio. Her time working at The Wilds, a conservation facility focused on advancing science and education through wildlife conservation, began her aspiring career as an environment field worker. After graduating in 2014, she took a graduation trip and WWOOFed in Kauai, Hawaii for four months. While in Hawaii, she took advantage of the natural resource amenities by exploring the sea and beautiful mountains. After returning to the mainland, Natalie took a seasonal job working on the vegetation crew in Rocky Mountain National Park, located in northern Colorado. Her love of exploring the mountains grew deeper, as did her desire to return to outdoor science education. Natalie is currently working for Great Smokey Mountains National Park as a Citizen Science Assistant, where she will give different types of education programs to middle and high school students. She is incredibly excited and eager to explore all that Western North Carolina has to offer!
Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy - Land Protection & Education Associate
Spencer Scheidt was born and raised in Marin County, California, home of redwoods and fog. After graduating from high school he decided to leave home for the hardwood forests of the North Carolina Piedmont. While attending UNC Chapel Hill, he rekindled a passion for biology and ecology, and graduated with a B.S. in Biology in 2012. Since then he has worked in the conservation field as a wildlife researcher, a National Park Ranger trainee, a hiking and backpacking instructor and an experiential education focused science teacher. Spencer is looking forward to developing a new skill set and deepening his connection to WNC with his service site, the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. When he is not in the office, you might find him hiking, fishing or climbing around the crags and valleys of Pisgah and beyond.
Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy - Conservation Education & Volunteer Outreach Associate
Haley Smith was born and raised in Asheville, NC and grew up with the wilds of Western North Carolina (WNC) at her doorstep. Surrounded by WNC’s wealth of natural resources and beauty, it’s no wonder that she became passionate about conservation at an early age. She began doing water quality research in high school and knew that field work in the natural sciences was her calling. Haley attended Washington and Lee University (W&L) in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, where she earned a BS in Biology and a BA in Environmental Studies. During college she completed natural resource studies in Brazil with W&L and a semester in Wildlife Management Studies in East Africa with the School for Field Studies. Her research experiences include: invasive species removal and soil biochemistry work in Yellowstone National Park; water resources and environmental health research in southern Kenya; evaluating a Farm-to-School program in Rockbridge County, VA; and assessing invertebrate by-catch in the small fishing village of Apam, Ghana. Haley’s interests include travel and cross-cultural experiences, wildlife conservation, community health and development, and sustainable agriculture. In her spare time, she can usually be found playing soccer, playing her French horn, hiking, doing experimental cooking, or cuddling with her dogs. Haley is thrilled to be serving a second term as the Conservation Education & Volunteer Outreach Associate with the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, where she looks forward to another year of sharing her passion for conserving the beautiful landscapes and bountiful resources of her WNC home with her community.
Foothills Equestrian Nature Center (FENCE) - Environmental Education Associate
Britney grew up in Western North Carolina. After becoming a Wilderness First Responder, she headed to the coast of North Carolina. There she served on the first ever North Carolina Youth Conservation Corps, and helped build and construct a sustainable five-mile bike trail in Croatan National Forest. She then moved on to work in Northern Georgia’s Chattahoochee National Forest with troubled adolescents in a wilderness therapy setting. Wanting to explore a bit more, she went on a cross country road trip before moving to Maryland. There she served her first AmeriCorps position with Patapsco Valley State Park’s Maryland Conservation Corps. She has also worked as a seasonal park ranger in MD, and has spent her past two summers with the Maryland Wildland Fire Crew as a Wildland Firefighter. Britney is passionate about the outdoors and enjoys backpacking, fishing, hiking, and exploring. Glad to be back in North Carolina’s mountains she is enthusiastic to serve her community as FENCE’s Environmental Education Associate!
Friends of the WNC Nature Center - Volunteer & Education Associate
Candace was born in Syracuse, NY and moved shortly after to the great state of North Carolina. Ever since she was a little girl, Candace dreamed of becoming a veterinarian and helping animals. Her childhood was filled with camping, snorkeling, and playing in the woods and creek behind her house. Candace attended North Carolina State University, majoring in Animal Science. During the second year of her collegiate career, Candace realized becoming a veterinarian was maybe not the dream after all. She got an internship with a small zoo in Coats, NC and everything changed. Working with the public and wildlife made her realize her true calling- promoting conservation through education outreach and community involvement. In January 2016, Candace became a Wildlife Rehabilitation Intern with the WNC Nature Center. She was then a camp Counselor at the Nature Center summer camps which combined her love of animals, children, and education. Now Candace is serving in Americorps Project Conserve with the Friends of the Nature Center as Volunteer and Education Associate. Candace loves the Nature Center and made it her objective to support and serve her local community. When she's not hanging out with the animals, she loves to hike, swim, garden, and ride motorcycles on the fun mountain roads.
Organic Growers School - Home-Grower Program Coordinator
Jillian grew up in Los Angeles County, later moving to Tampa, Chicago and Asheville, NC in pursuit of her passions. She developed a strong bond to the land early on, and remembers fondly the time spent with her naturalist father and on her grandfather's farm feeding the calves, playing in the hay barn and picking wild berries. These experiences, and a struggle with childhood hunger, led to an active interest in urban edibles as a teen. Though her mother refused to let her grow corn in the front yard of their suburban home, Jill's vision of seeing farms in every neighborhood remains strong. Her love of wildlife led to the initial pursuit of a career working in zoos on education and conservation programs, having learned from that experience how human populations driven by poverty and hunger affect wildlife habitats. That developed into an exploration of human need and human service work spanning nearly three decades and including positions with AIDS Project Los Angeles, the YMCA International Division, children's mental health advocacy and foster care, and Asheville city housing. She pursued a parallel interest in the land as a professional landscaper, permaculturist and organic gardener, working with other community members ages 8-80 on living with the land, rather than on it. Through AmeriCorps Project Conserve as the Get Growing Program and Outreach Coordinator for Organic Growers School, Jillian hopes to gain additional experience with addressing sustainability through the lens of human need environmental preservation as a holistic view.
Polk County Recreation - Trails Coordinator
Seth comes from the rolling hills of Central Pennsylvania. By the time he graduated high school he knew that he wished to pursue a career in conservation. Seth went on to major in Geography-Environmental Science with a certification in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania. During the summer of 2013, Seth was introduced to the wonderful world of trails as a Backcountry Trail Intern for the Maine Appalachian Trail Club. After this brief stint on the trail, Seth finished college and was accepted into the Montana Conservation Corps. Here he was part of a six person crew and performed a variety of conservation work with a primary focus on trails. Most recently, Seth was a Corridor Stewardship Technician (performing maintenance on the survey boundary line surrounding the trail) for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy throughout the New England region. In his free time, you can find Seth paddling around a body of water, listening to music, fly fishing, or hiking with his dog Sanuk. He is extremely excited to be a part of Americorps Project Conserve and to be the Trails Coordinator for beautiful Polk County!