Each year since 2016, the Hemlock Restoration Initiative has been proud to host a member of AmeriCorps Project Conserve, and this year we have the great fortune of hosting two Project Conserve members. In October, we were happy to welcome Logan Dye as the HRI Stewardship and Conservation Education Associate, following the return, in September, of Ben Chase for a second term as the HRI Stewardship and Volunteer Engagement Associate.

Logan at the NC coast

Logan is a western North Carolina native who grew up in Brevard, North Carolina. While growing up, he spent his time mountain biking, rock climbing, paddling, and hiking. This fostered a love for the southern Appalachians, specifically the unique ecosystems of western North Carolina. While attending UNC Asheville, his fascination for the habitat he grew up in flourished as he pursued a B.S. in Environmental Studies with a concentration in ecology. Following graduation, Logan spent a summer in the Outer Banks as a sea kayak guide exploring the diverse ecosystems of eastern North Carolina. Logan is extremely excited to be back in the mountains to serve Project Conserve and protect the unique species that characterize the southern Appalachians. We are extremely lucky that his love for hemlock trees led him to seek out HRI.

Ben planting hemlocks in December 2019

Ben grew up in Florida and graduated from Stetson University with a bachelor’s degree in biology and environmental science. As a botanist, Ben has worked for the Bureau of Land Management, the Utah Geological Survey, and as lead field technician for a forest ecology lab at Washington University in St. Louis. Aside from being a plant enthusiast, Ben enjoys running, hiking, and playing board games. He also brings with him a never-fading smile, thoughtful perspectives and a willing spirit. In the 2019-2020 term, Ben made huge contributions to our chemical and biological control programs, created helpful resources to educate landowners, coordinated volunteer projects, expanded HRI’s educational hikes, and much more. Ben is eager to continue working on these and other projects in his second year serving at HRI.

AmeriCorps Project Conserve is a National Service program in which members come from across the nation to dedicate themselves to serving critical environmental and community needs in western North Carolina through service positions. Members are selected based on skill, education, experience, passion and commitment to service. Project Conserve was founded in 2004 as an initiative of Conserving Carolina (formerly Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy) 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.

We are excited to build on the experience and knowledge Ben gained in his first term and to learn from Logan and benefit from his added energy and background. Their service will help increase the capacity of the HRI to reach a larger audience, to educate, engage and empower more community members and groups to participate in hemlock conservation, and to increase the number of eastern and Carolina hemlock trees currently receiving protection from HWA. We are honored that both of these talented individuals have elected to dedicate their time and energy to supporting our mission and anticipate a great year ahead.

Please help us in welcoming Logan and welcoming back Ben to the HRI team!