Meet our New AmeriCorps Members

Ben Duerr

Education Coordinator

Ben Duerr grew up with his twin brother in Rochester, New York; they spent hours playing and fishing in the Genesee River and in the many ponds and lakes of upstate New York. As he grew older, he fell in love with ski racing, soccer, and downhill skateboarding. Ben graduated from Allegheny College, Meadville, PA, in May 2021 with an environmental science and sustainability major and studio art minor. In addition to environmental fieldwork, he worked intensely on various independent ceramic studies. The combination of environmental studies and studio art provided a positive and welcoming experience that allowed him to complete school during the global pandemic.

Ben has extensive experience working with children in the outdoors. He spent three summers in Colorado as an instructor for Avid4 Adventure. The goal of the camp is to connect young people to their local environment through fun recreational activities. Thus, he actively engaged children in mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking, canoeing, and kayaking while teaching Leave No Trace principles.

Ben appreciates the many facets of Asheville: the mountains, the waterways, and not least, the art scene.

Hannah Coats

Stewardship Coordinator

Hannah is currently serving as the AmeriCorps Stewardship Coordinator. She is a WNC native, growing up on a 200+ acre farm in Marion, where she spent her childhood exploring the woods, playing in the creek that runs through the property, or helping her family with farm related activities. She has had close ties with nature from a young age, eventually deciding to get her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from Western Carolina University. She now lives in Cullowhee and particularly enjoys the gorgeous mountain landscape and all the hiking opportunities in the area. 

She hopes to use the knowledge and experience she has so far culminated to help the communities of WNC develop a more sustainable way of life and connect people with their environment. In her free time, Hannah enjoys yoga, hiking, cooking, video games, and generally spending time in nature.

Maya Balassa

Watershed Coordinator

Maya was born and raised in Asheville, NC and grew up exploring trails, swimming in waterfalls, and canoeing on the French Broad River. She obtained a Bachelors in Environmental Science and Political Science from NC State University followed by a Masters in Urban and Environmental Planning from the University of Virginia. She cares deeply about protecting and conserving nature and biodiversity!