Meet our 2017 Summer Interns

CTNC Diversity in Conservation Internship Program

Conservation Trust for North Carolina’s Diversity in Conservation Internship Program introduces students from diverse backgrounds to careers in conservation by providing paid internships at land trusts and partner organizations. CTNC has funded 92 interns at 18 land trusts and 13 partner organizations since 2008.

Tamia Dame

Tamia is a rising junior at UNC Asheville, majoring in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Management and Policy. This summer she is serving as our Communication, Education, and Outreach Intern. Tamia has spent time with volunteer and hiking groups at our Community Farm and in the Highlands of Roan, writing articles and taking photos for our blog and newsletter. She also interviewed members of the community to research and write a personal narrative article about African-American relationships with land and agriculture. Through her internship, Tamia hopes to gain practical experience in the field of agriculture, build professional relationships, and acquire skills that will lead to a career in conservation. Her personal hobbies and interests include hiking, cooking, meeting new people, and dog sitting for friends. She is originally from Lenoir, NC, and moved to Asheville because of her love of the WNC mountains.

Kimani Anderson

Kimani was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. He is a rising junior and student athlete at the UNC Asheville, majoring in both political science and sociology. When not participating in track and field, Kimani can be found in many departments around UNCA. He is a peer mentor and member of the Order of Pisgah, the Political Science Club, and German club. This summer he has been working as the Communications Intern for Blue Ridge Forever, the coalition of land trusts in WNC. To assist in communications, Kimani used tabulated GIS data to create impactful statements and a story map outlining the collective conservation impact of Blue Ridge Forever partners (including SAHC).

Duke University Stanback Interns

The Duke University Stanback Internship Program is generously funded by Duke alumni Fred and Alice Stanback. The Stanback Internship Program provides Duke students with significant project-based learning experiences in energy, conservation, advocacy, policy, research, and applied resource management. The Stanback Internship Program is open to any Duke student – undergraduate, graduate, and international students.

John “Tal” Jacobs

Tal Jacobs is a graduate student at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. He is pursuing the Master of Environmental Management degree and is most interested in conservation planning and landscape analysis. Tal grew up in Concord, NC and likes to think of Western NC as a second home.  Working as our Land Conservation Priority and Planning Stanback Intern, Tal has been assisting our Land Protection staff in the development of GIS-based parcel prioritization processes and model reports. He is excited to participate in the protection of the places that sparked his passion for the natural world.

Sarah Sanford

Sarah is currently working on her Master’s degree in Environmental Management at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. Sarah hails from Virginia and did her undergraduate degree at the College of William and Mary. As a Stanback Intern, Sarah has been assisting in Roan Stewardship by collecting historic grassy balds management data for the Roan Highlands and creating an online story map to portray the years of work performed by SAHC, our partners, and local volunteers. Sarah enjoys hiking, camping, and spending time on the river, and is very pleased to be spending her summer in one of the most beautiful parts of the Appalachians.

City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy (CAYLA)

The City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy (CAYLA) recruits, trains and places local high school students at meaningful summer jobs with the City of Asheville and with participating agencies, in addition to providing weekly day-long workshops on financial literacy, leadership, career exploration and 21st Century job skills.

Fisasyo Bashorun

Fisayo is currently a final year student at Buncombe County Early College. Originally from Lagos, Nigeria, she moved to the United States with her family in 2005. She has been in WNC for twelve years and has yet to find a dull moment or a view that she didn’t enjoy. She is particularly interested in community involvement and planning for a career in local and state government, eventually working up to become a Congressional member. Fisayo is assisting with communications, especially photography and videography at our Community Farm.  In working with SAHC this summer, she hopes to gain a better understanding of how conservation works and explore the world of agriculture. Her personal hobbies include, long-boarding, biking, watching movies, and pet store hopping. 


Thomas Hatling

A forestry intern from Sewanee University, Thomas is mapping ash stands on SAHC preserves in order to prepare for planning and treatment to protect trees from invasive Emerald Ash Borer. Originally from Kernersville, NC, Thomas is a rising junior at Sewanee: The University of the South, majoring in forestry and minoring in philosophy. His hobbies and interests including whitewater paddling; playing guitar, mandolin, piano; and he is learning to play the carillon at Sewanee. His favorite thing to do is go on hikes and enjoy the nature and animals. This summer, Thomas has been creating an inventory of white ash tree populations in SAHC’s preserves in the Highlands of Roan.

Leigh Bost

Leigh comes to us from the Patagonia store in Atlanta, Georgia.  Patagonia offers employees the ability to protect the environment through the Environmental Internship Program. She was awarded up to 7 weeks away from her regular role as Store Manager to work for the environmental group of her choice — and she chose SAHC.  She is originally from Asheville, so the mountains are close to her heart.  When she isn’t working, she loves to spend time with her family gardening, biking, going on adventure walks, and being outside as much as possible. She is helping this summer with hikes, event planning, merchandise inventory/organization, land protection and stewardship documents, and LWCF legislative policy outreach.



Decorating for the Birds     

Thanks to the efforts of Sarah Sanford, a Duke University Stanback Intern with SAHC this summer, our new office has been outfitted with window decals to help protect our winged friends.

Sarah worked with her professors at Duke University on a project to prevent birds from fatally colliding with reflective windows. The Bird Collision Project at Duke uses patterned film to break up reflective surfaces seen by birds while retaining visibility for people inside buildings. Sarah suggested a similar idea for SAHC’s new office, taking the initiative to line our front windows with stickers of bird silhouettes. The use of the stickers will help the birds to avoid those windows. Read more

Appalachian Spring 2017

We had a wonderful time with all of our members, friends, and guests last night at Yee-Haw Brewing Company in Johnson City, TN. Congratulations to our new/returning Trustees — David Erwin, Rick Manske, John Mason, Laura McCue, and Cynthia Poortenga. Thank you to our outgoing Trustees — Courtney Blossman, Jack Hamilton, Bill Lowndes, and Kathy Singleton — for your years of dedicated service to land and water conservation on behalf of Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. Congratulations to Kirk Watson of Causeway Interactive, the recipient of our 2017 Stanley A. Murray Award for Volunteer Service, and a big thank you to all our sponsors and raffle item donors for helping make our event a resounding success. It was a wonderful night for our annual Appalachian Spring conservation celebration, benefit, and member event.

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AmeriCorps Needs Our Help!

We need your help!

Please contact your Senator and Representative NOW, and ask them to oppose efforts to eliminate the AmeriCorps program (part of the Corporation for National and Community Service). This program is an important public/private partnership — in which non-profits like Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy match federal funds in order to accomplish meaningful land & water conservation and to create vibrant rural and urban communities. Read more

Rising Conservation Leader

hanni2016 NC Land Trust Assembly Rising Conservation Leader of the Year: Hanni Muerdter

At the 2016 Land Trust Assembly in Raleigh in May, North Carolina’s 24 local land trusts announced annual awards for five conservation leaders, including our Stewardship and Conservation Planning Director, Hanni Muerdter! Read more

Stanley A. Murray, Inducted into Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame


smurraySAHC founder Stan Murray was inducted into the Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame last year, and retired Roan Stewardship Director Judy Murray traveled to Boiling Springs, PA (the “Half-way” point on the AT) to accept the award in his behalf.

Stanley A. Murray, along with Benton McKaye and Myron Avery, was one of the most important individuals in the early history of the Appalachian Trail. Read more

‘Twas indeed a lovely Appalachian Spring

img_3963You couldn’t ask for a more Appalachian setting, with flair. As guests arrived at the Farmhouse Gallery and Gardens on May 21, they were greeted by the eerie screams of peacocks who live on the property and nonchalantly flaunt their remarkable feathers. The weather was a little iffy – with threatening clouds hovering overhead much of the time, but we were grateful that the rain held off and the cover helped keep temperatures at just the right level. Read more

We love our AmeriCorps Project Conserve 2014 – 2015 crew!

americorps2014Participants in AmeriCorps Project Conserve aren’t just looking for an internship. They commit to full-time 11-month service terms, contributing important skills to boost our capacity for conservation. This AmeriCorps program also provides unique opportunities to open doors for conservation careers. Over the years, SAHC has employed four AmeriCorps Project Conserve alumni in staff or contract positions.

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Benefitting SAHC through 1% for the Planet

robbie0020.jpgWe are extremely grateful to all our business and individual supporters for making local conservation possible. This year, SAHC benefited directly from 1% for the Planet, a global program that creates win-win-win situations for businesses, non-profits, and communities.

When he learned that SAHC was a direct beneficiary of 1% for the Planet, it was an easy decision for SAHC member and volunteer Robbie McLucas to join thousands of like-minded individuals and businesses who effect change by pledging to give one percent of their yearly incomes to environmental organizations. Read more

SAHC’s Jay Leutze addresses NPCA Trustees

jaySAHC partner National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) held a board meeting for their national trustees in Asheville June 18-20th.  While in the area, the trustees visited the Blue Ridge Parkway, hiked into Shining Rock Wilderness,  and toured the Carl Sandburg National Historic Site.

They welcomed several guests, including Blue Ridge Parkway Superintendent Mark Woods, Acting Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Cindy MacLeod, and Carl Sandburg National Historic Site Superintendent Tyrone Brandyburg, to a dinner featuring a talk from SAHC Trustee Jay Leutze. Jay recounted the role NPCA played in protecting the Appalachian Trail from impacts of the Putnam Mine, a story detailed in his book Stand Up That Mountain.

Several SAHC members and former trustees were in attendance, including Charlie and Shirley Ann McCollough, and former Blue Ridge Parkway superintendent Phil Francis. NPCA has been a wonderful partner in helping to preserve the rich vitality of our mountain landscape. Over the past few years, we have been fortunate to receive grant funding from NPCA and Nature Valley’s “Preserve Our Parks” program to support habitat restoration and stewardship in the Highlands of Roan and at Cataloochee Ranch adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.