Only the Beginning of the Adventure…

Within the past week, I have returned from Duke’s notoriously awesome Western Field Trip, found a lovely summer residence in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina, moved completely out of my apartment in Durham…

… and taken Calibu the Malibu into the automobile hospital for some major surgery after her engine lights began to flash and her steering column began to noticeably vibrate – all while dogsitting a hyperactive border collie.

Now, I’m ready to embark on yet another adventure: my first 9:00 − 5:00 job experience!

The Gig

Protecting forests for life.
Protecting forests for life.

I’ll be interning with Wild South, a wide-reaching environmental non-profit dedicated to inspiring people to enjoy and safeguard the wild character of the South. It is unique in that it protects and restores southern land, species, and culture through not only sound science and collaboration, but also grassroots organizing –  educating and empowering local citizens and communities to catalyze change themselves.

Environmental communications, my professional focus, is immensely mutli-faceted; I could focus on public and media relations, facilitation, publishing, education, community outreach, or journalism – to name a few! I wanted an internship that would provide experience in many of these sectors. Working as a grassroots organizer with Wild South, I certainly expect opportunities to wear a variety of these figurative hats in a variety of ways!

But wait – the fun doesn’t stop there! In addition to working with a determined, down-to-earth and decidedly awesome non-profit, I’ll be living in one of America’s coolest towns.

The Paris of the South

Asheville's own Washington Monument: Vance Monument in Pack Square.
Asheville's own Washington Monument: Vance Monument in Pack Square.

If you are not familiar with the fine city of Asheville, North Carolina, you should broaden your horizon, stat. It’s a wonderfully diverse and appealingly eccentric city, filled with artists and outdoor enthusiasts, retirees and college grads, bums and businesspeople, hippies and foodies.

I hope to explore every inch of Asheville’s art galleries, festivals, specialty stores and entertainment – not to mention the over 250 independent restaurants and 12 farmers markets! (Indeed, Asheville considers itself the world’s only Foodtopian society… but that’s a post for another day!)

And, while Asheville may not be home to our nation’s President, it too has an obelisk-shaped monument overlooking a reflection pool – with mountains to boot.

The Mountains Are Calling…

The final element that drew me to this experience: the land in western North Carolina itself, home to the Blue Ridge Mountains, Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests, a few hundred Smokey the Bears, and hundreds of waterfalls.

View on my ride home - gorgeous!
View on my ride home - gorgeous!

I am a huge outdoor enthusiast; I love hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, nature photography – you name it, and I’m game. But, most especially, I love the mountains. We don’t have many of those where I grew up in Michigan, which is what, I think, makes them even more enticing. Not only does western North Carolina possess these rugged geological marvels in spades, my internship involves working with several mountain communities and hiking in the mountainous forests they would like to protect. Sweet!

I hope you keep up with me as I experience life at a non-profit and all the thrills and trappings of living in Asheville. Starting at Wild South tomorrow… Wish me luck!