Funding for the Future – Supporting Careers in Conservation

We are deeply grateful to SAHC member Bob Detjen for making a heroically generous contribution this year to help us catalyze more opportunities for young people to develop conservation- related jobs and careers in the southern Appalachians.

“SAHC is using this gift strategically to recruit additional AmeriCorps members and interns from other places to Asheville to begin their conservation careers, and to realign existing staff to train and supervise them,” says Executive Director Carl Silverstein. “Bob’s visionary insight and remarkable generosity is increasing our capacity to offer young people opportunities to work with SAHC and link them with potential job paths in conservation-related fields.”

A life-long conservationist and dedicated supporter of SAHC since the early 1990’s, Bob has made generous contributions over the decades to help protect special places in Sandy Mush and beyond. He donated more than 200 acres of land to SAHC for permanent conservation, made a significant gift toward acquisition of an adjoining 103-acre preserve in Sandy Mush, and committed to support SAHC in his estate planning as part of our Legacy Society.

Thank you for making a positive impact on the world, Bob!

Former AmeriCorps Perspectives: On Land Stewardship and Service

Stephanie and Sarah (L to R)

Stephanie Long

“Serving as one of SAHC’s Stewardship & Volunteer members through AmeriCorps Project Conserve for the past two years has been a truly incredible experience. I came into this position with the goal of learning more about land stewardship as I look to pursue a career in conservation, and serving with SAHC met all my expectations and then some.

Through this position I’ve been able to see what stewardship and land management really looks like for properties protected in perpetuity. Field days were definitely a highlight of the position for me, getting to visit so many protected properties with other stewardship staff, talk with landowners and partners, and really see on the ground how these properties fit into the larger matrix of protected land in the region.

I also really appreciated how I was able to dive into additional projects that aligned with my interests in remote sensing and the role emerging technologies can play in land stewardship. The opportunities I’ve had to work with drones on SAHC properties, the aerial monitoring I’ve done to remotely monitor properties using satellite imagery, and the ability to learn about the inner workings of SAHC’s geospatial data management led me to apply to the Earth Observation and Geoinformation Management MSc degree program at the University of Edinburgh. I will be headed to Scotland this fall to learn more about the roles satellite and other remotely sensed data can play in environmental work, and my interest in this program directly stems from the experiences I’ve had while serving with SAHC. I’m excited to be going back to school to focus on an area I’m passionate about and explore a new place, but it’s hard to say goodbye to SAHC after two great years!”

Sarah Sussman

“During my 11-month term at Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, I have visited the most beautiful places in our region (all protected by SAHC!). My biggest takeaway from serving at SAHC is that it has given me the perspective to see how land trusts work behind the scenes to protect the places we love. As a part of the stewardship team, I hiked rugged boundaries, blazed my way through thick vegetation, and walked the steepest terrain the southern Appalachians has to offer. Visiting these protected places is not an easy job, and I have learned that SAHC, and other land trusts, could not accomplish what they do without the ‘boots on the ground’ work of the stewardship team. They interact with landowners, make land management recommendations, and ensure that the integrity of protected places are upheld for years to come.

Additionally, the folks that make up the stewardship team at SAHC: Sarah, Chris, Hanni, Marquette, Travis, Park, and Stephanie (my fellow AmeriCorps peer) are great examples of those who make a career out of doing what they love while also making a difference for our world. My time at SAHC has given me experiences I will carry with me for the rest of my career in the conservation field. Thank you to SAHC and all the staff who have mentored me this past year!”

Americorps logoAmeriCorps, a federal agency, brings people together to tackle the country’s most pressing challenges, through national service and volunteering. AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers serve with organizations dedicated to the improvement of communities. AmeriCorps helps make service to others a cornerstone of our national culture. Learn more at

Project Conserve is administered by Conserving Carolina and funded by an AmeriCorps grant from the North Carolina Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service in the office of Governor Roy Cooper, and the critical support of our host sites and community partners.