Emma Rast grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania where she spent much of her childhood reading in trees, exploring the outdoors, and camping at various bluegrass and old-time festivals. She attended Oberlin College where she majored in biology and environmental studies, discovering a particular interest in plant ecology and conservation. While at Oberlin, Emma worked within local elementary schools teaching movement as well as environmental education classes. She also had the opportunity to participate in research examining the effects of emerald ash borer induced ash death on ground vegetation.
Following graduation Emma felt a pull to engage in more applied, community focused conservation work. She looked to North Carolina, due to its musical tradition and because after living in Ohio for four years it was time for some mountains! Emma is so grateful that she found RiverLink and is excited to work with the community to restore and foster appreciation for the French Broad River Watershed. When she’s not wading down streams or planning the next volunteer service day Emma enjoys hiking, reading dystopian novels, and playing folk and old-time music.
Ingrid grew up in concrete-filled Chicago, always wishing she lived closer to forests and dark starry skies. After attending an overnight environmental field trip in fifth grade, she quickly became a steward for all things natural in the area, attending beach cleanups, recycling events, and stewardship workdays.
Robert is a native of Troutman, North Carolina. As a child, he often visited his grandparent’s cabin near Robbinsville, where he grew to love the mountains of Western North Carolina. These experiences led him to attend Appalachian State University where he spent a lot of time exploring the surrounding mountains and figuring out a career path. He decided to study sustainable development and environmental biology, which stimulated his interest in freshwater ecosystems. After graduation he worked as a summer intern in aquatic ecology at Ball State University and completed his first AmeriCorps term with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s Watershed Conservation Program. His service in watershed conservation inspired him to pursue a master’s degree in biology at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, focusing on stream ecology.
After two years in academia, Robert is excited to be back in Western North Carolina, serving as RiverLink’s Education Coordinator through AmeriCorps Project Conserve. He is looking forward to the challenge of completing his thesis while serving with RiverLink and engaging the community surrounding the French Broad River. In his free time, you can find Robert hiking, trail running or snowboarding. He also hopes to improve his kayaking and rock climbing skills while exploring the streams and rivers of the region.
What is AmeriCorps Project Conserve?
AmeriCorps Project Conserve is a national service program in which members come from across the nation to dedicate themselves to serving western North Carolina for an 11 month service term. Members are selected based on skill, education, experience, passion and commitment to service. Project Conserve was founded in September of 2004 as an initiative of Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (CMLC) to respond to the growing conservation needs in western North Carolina. The program focuses on collaboration with nonprofit organizations, community groups and local governments to provide service throughout the region.
The mission of AmeriCorps Project Conserve is to serve western North Carolina by building stronger, more educated and involved communities that understand the threats to their local environment, are equipped with the tools and resources to take direct conservation action, and have significant opportunities to engage in conservation activities through volunteering. Through the efforts of these dedicated communities and the direct service of AmeriCorp
AmeriCorps is a federally-supported program of the Corporation for National & Community Service that helps communities across the country meet critical needs in education, public safety, health, and the environment. Administered by the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, Project Conserve is supported through grants from the North Carolina Commission on Volunteerism & Community Service and from the Corporation for National & Community Service.s Project Conserve members, we hope to ultimately increase the amount of land and habitat conserved, protect and enhance water quality, promote local food and agriculture, and support energy conservation throughout the region.
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