Meet this years Project Conserve members!

Alex Blue

Volunteer Coordinator

Alex is a native of Swansboro, North Carolina. As a child she grew up sailing, fishing, and canoeing in the waters surrounding her small coastal town. She attended camp in the summers where her favorite activities were searching for shark teeth along the shores of the inlet and fossil hunting in a large pile of shells at the nature cabin. Her initial interest in natural resources was put on the back burner while she chased her dream of collegiate athletics. This dream led her to the University of North Carolina at Asheville where she became a member of the women’s Track and Field team. While attending school in Western North Carolina her old love of all things nature was reignited. This love led her to pursue a B.S. in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Earth Science which she proudly graduated with in 2017. While in school she was accepted as a McCullough Fellow with the McCullough Institute for Conservation, Land Use and Environmental Resiliency. 

She is thrilled to be at RiverLink serving as volunteer coordinator where she can work on revitalizing the French Broad River and connecting with the great community of Western North Carolina! When she’s not working with RiverLink you can find her spoiling her dog, hiking, or spending time with family and friends.

Anne Read

Watershed Resources Coordinator

Anne is from Arundel, Maine where her love for the outdoors began. She grew up on a farm and began participating in sustainable agriculture projects nearby her college town of Worcester Massachusetts. After traveling to volunteer on a coffee farm in Northern Peru, she started to develop a passion for environmental sustainability and land conservation. In completing a International Development and Social Change at Clark University, she became interested in ways to not only stay invested in international social issues but to stay involved in the Worcester community around her as well.

She continued on to receive her M.A. in Community Development and Planning from Clark University and participated in the land conservation efforts that were happening in Worcester. After interning for the Greater Worcester Land Trust, Anne realized that she wanted to work within the nonprofit sector to focus on environmental stewardship and advocacy. This led Anne to transitioning to Asheville, North Carolina to serve with Americorps Project Conserve as the Watershed Resources Coordinator for Riverlink. You can find Anne whitewater rafting, backpacking around the Blue Ridge Mountains, or climbing at the local rock gym.

Natalie Willmschen

Education Coordinator

Although Natalie Willmschen was raised in the suburbs of Raleigh, that didn’t keep her from discovering a love of nature. From exploring nearby creeks to climbing up way too high in trees, she found an intrinsic motivation to care for the environment around her. Visits to science museums as a child also helped to foster that love of being in nature into a love of learning about nature. Inspired to pass on that passion to others, Natalie found a way to cultivate those experiences at Appalachian State University where she received a B.S. in Sustainable Development with a concentration in environmental studies and a focus in conservation and outreach.

After working in environmental education in museum settings at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science, Natalie is excited to serve as the Education Coordinator for RiverLink. In this position she hopes to be able to learn more about Western North Carolina and the natural beauties found within it and also help others to do the same. When not working, you can find Natalie in a good relaxing spot outdoors, painting, dancing, visiting animal shelters, and eating good food.

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 Conserving Carolina 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 AmeriCorps.