Howdy. My name’s Kevin and I’m a current Master of Environmental Management and Master of Forestry grad student at The Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University. I came out to North Carolina last August from San Francisco, where I was born and raised for the majority of my 29 years. Since then, I’ve been enjoying all that the NC has to offer, from hushpuppies to incredible ecological diversity. I think I’ve seen more species of plants and animals in the last year here than I have in the whole time I was living on the west coast. Just the bugs themselves. I can’t believe how many there are here! More than in Durham, definitely.
At Wild South this summer, I’ve been hard at work in the Asheville office trying to learn everything I possibly can about the elusive and ancient Eastern Hellbender salamander. For the uninitiated, Hellbenders are the largest salamander in the entire western hemisphere! And they live right here in our regional backyard! They are a strange and fascinating species, but one that is also in need of our help as its aquatic habitat continues to decline due to factors like silt inundation and fragmented habitat. I hope to continue working with this species as my graduate studies progress!
I grew up in Bellingham, WA, a small city much like Asheville in its respect for the environment, eclectic style, and love of the fine arts. My backyard was a forested wonderland that acted as a sanctuary for coyotes, cougars, and black bears, as well as myself. It was here that my love for all things wild flourished.
After high school, I attended the University of Washington to pursue a double major in both Psychology and Theater – the two go together better than one might think – with an interest in animal behavior. Once I graduated I spent several years living in Seattle working as a barista, a dog trainer/wrangler, a human research outreach coordinator, a volunteer zookeeper, and other odd jobs while trying to break into the environmental world. Finally, after marrying my college sweetheart, we were whisked away to North Carolina where my husband’s Army duty station is located.
I am now in the midst of completing my Masters degree in Environmental Management from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. My focus is on human/wildlife conflict and mitigating urbanization impacts on wildlife and their habitat. Wild South has fostered both my love for canines and my interest in human/wildlife conflict by allowing me to look further into the expanding coyote population in the southeast and the conflicts arising from living in close proximity to the infamous carnivore. Along with making lifelong connections and friends, this Stanback Internship opportunity has enabled me to think outside of the box when trying to solve problems and find information, and has given me a new appreciation for citizen-based science.
I’m a sophomore from Warren Wilson College. I originally hale from New Jersey, though I’ve spent some of the most important times of my life in Maine. Growing up, the coast of Maine as well as its vast North Woods were my escape from my otherwise sendentary, suburban New Jersey life. It was there that my appreciation for wilderness and the freedom of natural places began. When I was thirteen I spent three weeks traveling throughout the Allagash Waterway in a wood-canvas canoe, using traditional Native American practices such as leather tump lines, wooden wannagens and canvas duffle packs.
Then, as a junior in high school, I was lucky enough to get a reprieve from my underfunded public school to attend the Chewonki Semester School on the coast of Maine. At Chewonki, through the integration of classes, work program on a horse-powered farm and in the wood-lot, and daily chores, I was first introduced to environmentally oriented, experiential education, taught to form a love for the land and the ideals of community. After my positive experieces at Chewonki, I tailored my college search towards schools that would offer similar educational approaches, so naturally I ended up at Warren Wilson College where I am now a sophomore environmental policy major.
Warren Wilson’s Environmental Leadership Internship program has given me the amazing opportunity to work with Wild South this summer. I am currently collaborating with another intern, Amy Alexander, to help spearhead Wild South’s efforts in the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area. Our work is dually focused on the control of non-native invasive species in the region as well as the protection of two federally listed plant species, Mountain Golden Heather and Heller’s Blazing Star. I am excited to be able to make a positive impact on the ecosystems in this beautiful, wild place. If you have never visited the Gorge, I suggest you get out there. You will have to earn them, but it offers some of the best views on the East Coast.