Trudie Henninger

I added AmeriCorps Project Conserve to my life map in 2012 as the Citizen Science Education Specialist at The NC Arboretum in one of the most beautiful places in America: Asheville, North Carolina. My position felt less like service, and more like recess! I played outside all day long leading programs for visitors, school groups, and summer campers. I helped them channel their inner scientist through collecting real scientific data on all things slimy, squirmy, cuddly, and cute! I was particularly excited to start a research project on my favorite animal, the Eastern Box Turtle! Our students helped me find, mark, map, weigh, measure, and release box turtles found at the Arboretum. 

My experiences with Project Conserve helped me gain a deeper understanding of the communities, wildlife, and beauty of Western North Carolina. It was impossible not to have fun and make friends as we enjoyed feeding baby goats, building trails, planting vegetables, gutting trout, and canoeing down the French Broad River!

I was lucky enough to be able to continue as an Environmental Education Specialist at my host site after my AmeriCorps service. Today, I am still playing outside with children, catching crawdads, measuring salamanders, counting birds and weighing turtles. Project Conserve gave me the opportunity and experience necessary to land my dream job, working outdoors providing students with meaningful, hands-on activities that will aid scientific research, connect them with nature, and help promote the conservation of western North Carolina plants and animals.