Summer 2021 Interns

Meet our 2021 summer interns, and hear what they have to say about their varied projects and interests in conservation!

LaKyla Hodges, Communications and Youth Education Intern

LaKyla is a senior at Warren Wilson College where she is studying Environmental Education. She worked with SAHC as a communications intern this summer, focusing on implementing and supporting our equity, diversity and inclusion goals. LaKyla has a wide variety of experience working in the environmental education field. She has held positions as an intern with the DC Chapter of the Sierra Club, a senior camp aid at the Smithsonian National Zoo, a camp facilitator at the Western North Carolina Nature Center, and as a communications and advocacy intern at MountainTrue. As a Bonner Leader at Warren Wilson, she has also worked with several youth organizations in traditionally Black communities of Asheville. In addition to facilitating youth programs this summer, LaKyla spent time writing about the salamander plots at the SAHC Community Farm and interviewing with Allison Williams, Pathways to Parks, and more.

Lydie Costes, Duke Stanback Intern

Lydie Costes is a Master of Environmental Management student at Duke, focusing her studies on Ecosystem Science, Conservation, and Geospatial Analysis. She is from Chapel Hill, NC and has a background in agriculture, psychology, and administration. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, gardening, learning about plants, and dancing. This summer, Lydie worked as a Stanback Fellow designing the management plan for Chestnut Mountain. This parcel was purchased in 2020 by SAHC and will be donated to the Town of Canton for use as a public park. Lydie consolidated existing documentation and communicated with various community partners to establish recommendations that balance conservation and recreation. “I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with SAHC this summer,” she says.

Joshua Lyon, Roan Naturalist

Joshua is a “plant nerd” heading to Western Carolina University after working with SAHC. He started in seasonal outdoor work in 2016 by maintaining trails with the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards and stayed on to lead crews for multiple seasons before becoming a Ridgerunner in Georgia for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC). As the seasonal Roan Naturalist, Joshua split time between stewardship projects and visitor interactions. Half of the season consisted of interacting with hikers to teach them how to minimize impact on the trail by staying safe and respecting the plants and animals that make up Roan’s imperiled ecosystems. The other half was spent on stewardship projects such as mowing the balds, planting spruce, doing bird surveys and putting out educational signs. This position is funded by the ATC and jointly hosted between SAHC, ATC and the US Forest Service.

Maya Nightsky Rosensweet, Roan Highlands Intern

Maya is a Biology and Philosophy double-major at Mount Holyoke College. “My goal is to be part of the climate change movement with a biological focus in carbon sequestration and a social focus in well-being,” she says. “For SAHC, my main project has been planning and building wild native plant gardens at Little Rock Creek preserve, including a pollinator garden, a meadow, and a raised edible garden. These gardens are not only environmentally sustainable (native, good for pollinators, birds, and other fauna, and specifically good carbon sequesterers), but they are also culturally and historically significant. All in all, we aim for this property to be beautiful AND educational.”

The Blackalachian Visits Asheville

Daniel visits with SAHC and Blue Ridge Forever staff.

Appalachian Trail thru hiker Daniel White grew up in the Shiloh community of Asheville and now lives in Charlotte. Last year, he set off hiking the AT to gain a new perspective on life. Unlike many who make the trek, Daniel started his journey without any backpacking experience. Now he’s become an ambassador for outdoor recreation.

“I hadn’t slept in a tent until three days before I started,” he says. “Growing up in Asheville, the trail was there all the time, but nobody introduced me to it. Once I got started, it was a learning experience. I was only planning to hike for a couple months, but then I really got into it and didn’t want to stop.”

Daniel hopes to use his own experiences to encourage others to get outdoors and enjoy nature. Read more