Interns & Seasonal Staff Spring-Summer 2024

We are excited to host a talented and energetic pool of young conservation talent this spring and summer!

Also, thank you to the Warren Wilson College volunteers (above) who helped out in the pollinator garden and removed invasive species from the stream area at SAHC’s Little Rock Creek Preserve in the Highlands of Roan.

Maddi Nguyen

Maddi Nguyen is interning as SAHC’s Media Content Creation Intern this semester. Maddi is a senior at the University of North Carolina Asheville, studying mass communications and sociology. Maddi recently graduated from Challenger Early College High School with her Associate’s in 2022 and hopes to work in public relations and marketing. Maddi loves to travel and explore different states and hopes to travel across Europe once she graduates. In her free time she likes to read, journal and stay busy outside.

View Maddi’s interviews with SAHC staff at YouTube.com/@SAHC

Talia Weizman

Talia Weizman is a senior at Asheville High School interning at the SAHC during her last semester. She was born and raised in Asheville and has loved living near the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains. Talia is passionate about environmental protection and plans to major in Environmental Studies in college. She is the president of the Sustainability Club at her school, where she advocates for environmentally sustainable practices in her community.  She is very excited to have the opportunity to work with the SAHC and learn more about environmental conservation. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, traveling, reading, seeing live music, and playing bass guitar in her band. This fall, Talia will be heading to the University of Vermont.

Roan Naturalist

This year we welcome Madison Crabill as our seasonal Roan Naturalist. This position is hosted by SAHC, in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service and supported by a grant from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. The Roan Naturalist helps educate hikers, manage habitat, and mitigate visitor use impacts in the fragile ecosystems of Roan Highlands.

Madison grew up in Hillsborough, NC. Her love of the outdoors began at the age of 11 when she registered her family’s land as a Certified Wildlife Habitat. Madison began pursuing a Film and TV BFA at New York University before pausing her studies to hike the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails. The natural beauty she encountered during these hikes ignited her desire to help protect and preserve fragile ecosystems. Madison is excited to return to the Appalachian Mountains as a Roan Naturalist to assist SAHC’s conservation efforts. She will continue her studies in fall 2024.

Roan Highlands Summer Intern – Otto Smith

Otto has been volunteering for SAHC at the annual Grassy Ridge Mow-Off for most of his life, and he did an excellent Eagle Scout project building a kiosk and footbridges at Hampton Creek Cove State Natural Area. Otto is now a freshman at Appalachian State studying agroecology, geographic information systems, and sustainability. He also brings  experience with trail building, invasive and native plants, outdoor work, and backpacking.

Stanback Fellows from the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University

We welcome two Stanback Fellows to the 2024 Stewardship Team, who will assist with collecting data for visitor use management and creating a spruce restoration plan for the Roan Highlands.

Vignesh Arunkumar

Vignesh grew up in South Central Pennsylvania, enjoying the outdoors, exploring the forests, and spending most of his time climbing trees and looking at all the critters. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2022 with a B.S. in Environmental Science. After working as a park ranger in the city of Pittsburgh, he decided to attain a graduate degree in Forestry at Duke University, where he is pursuing a Master of Forestry and a Master of Environmental Management with concentrations in Terrestrial and Freshwater Ecosystems and Analytics and Modeling. He is also working towards the graduate certificate in geospatial analysis. “I know this time at Duke and my fellowship opportunity will help me gain the knowledge and skills to further my career in forest conservation,” says Vignesh.

Fiona Bleu

Fiona is originally from the “Heart of America,” growing up in Kansas City, Missouri. Graduating from Stephens College in 2020 with a degree in Theatre Studies, Fiona transitioned to the environmental field after an inspiring tenure with the National Park Service in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, where she worked as an interpreter and science educator through the AmeriCorps program. This experience bolstered her appreciation for biodiversity and conservation work through an array of natural resource management practices, leading her to her current venture: pursuing a Master in Environmental Management (Concentration: Community-Based Environmental Management) at Duke. “I am thrilled to be back in Appalachia this summer with SAHC!” says Fiona.