SAHC Welcomes new Americorps Members

 big-yellow-jump2.jpgEvery year, the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy partners with a program within Americorps called “Project Conserve.” It is Project Conserve’s goal to serve western North Carolina by building stronger and more ecologically aware communities that understand the threats to their local environment. Individuals apply to join land trusts, grass-roots organizations, and various other non-profits in western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee through Project Conserve in order to serve and improve their communities.

SAHC is excited to introduce four new Americorps members who will be contributing their energy, enthusiasm, and many talents with us for the next 11 months.

Emily Bidgood–Land Protection Member:      

Emily lives in Johnson City, Tennessee with her husband, pet canary, and will soon be adding chickens to her family this winter.  Emily recieved a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and has recently attained her master’s degree from UNC, where she finished her final project on the Million Acre Initiative and conservation patterns in North Carolina. Emily is especially motivated and proud to be working for SAHC because it is a “leader in its field,” and she knows that her experience at SAHC will be invaluable, as she wants to pursue a career in natural resources conservation in Tennessee. In the little spare time that she has, Emily works with a nonprofit called Green Interfaith Network Inc., that helps faith-based communities take action towards becoming more sustainable.

Rich Preyer–PR and Outreach Member:   

Rich hails from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. His love for the mountains of western North Carolina began when he started fly-fishing on the Cane River as a young kid.  The Green River Preserve, an environmental summer camp, also had a profound impact on his life and inspired him to pursue a career in land conservation. He graduated from Wake Forest and went on to practice environmental education back at the Green River Preserve for several years. During the environmental education off-season in 2010, Rich hiked one third of the Appalachian Trail, hoping to both challenge himself and to raise money for the Stone and Holt Weeks Foundation. Rich is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with SAHC and “enjoy the beautiful mountains and rivers of western North Carolina while sharing his passion for the outdoors with as many people who will listen.” In his spare time, Rich is an avid backpacker, frisbee player, fly-fisherman, and always enjoys watching the Tarheels or Demon Deacons.

Margot Wallston–Stewardship Member:  

Margot cultivated a deep love for the mountains at an early age, having attended Eagles Nest summer camp in North Carolina for many summers. That love has grown over the years as she has worked in a multitude of different jobs in the environmental field, ranging from white water canoe director at the Outdoor Academy to working for the Save the San Francisco Bay Association, teaching bay ecology and wetland restoration to children and adults. Most recently, she served as a GIS research intern for the National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center at UNC Asheville (NEMAC). As one of our stewardship members, Margot is most excited about having a “direct role in protecting the health of our beautiful mountains, forests, and farmlands.” When Margot is not outside helping to protect the mountains we love, she is most likely working on her hula hooping and contra dancing skills. Margot hopes to one day do both activities at the same time.

Jamie Ervin–Stewardship Member:


Jamie’s love of the outdoors came from countless hours spent hiking around Linville Gorge with his family. In middle school, he participated in a group called, ” The American Adventure Service Corps”, where he learned about rock climbing and community service by helping with river cleanups in Wilson Creek and at Table Rock in the Linville Gorge Wilderness area. At UNC Asheville, Jamie studied Environmental Management and Policy, where he was a member with Active Students for a Healthy Environment (ASHE) and the Student Environmental Center. Jamie is especially excited about stewardship because “it gives me the opportunity to explore some really obscure corners of WNC.  I’m even more excited about the number of new land projects that are constantly coming into the office and I’m glad to have a role in the process of helping land projects close.” In his spare time, you will find Jamie rock climbing or perhaps rocking-out on his banjo and bluegrass guitar.