During Summer 2017, CTNC hired 19 interns for full-time, 10-week, paid internships through the Diversity in Conservation Internship Program to provide hands-on opportunities for students to gain the skills and experience necessary for a successful career in conservation. The program aims to increase racial and ethnic diversity within conservation organizations and engagement with groups underrepresented in conservation careers. Meet Tamia Dame, a 2017 intern with the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy.
Tamia Dame’s love for nature started with the Appalachian Mountains. Growing up with the Blue Ridge Parkway as her backyard pointed Tamia “in the direction of conservation.”
“I truly feel confident that this is my purpose.”
Tamia works with Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) as the Communication, Education, and Outreach Intern. She spends her days attending local events or traveling to various SAHC sites in the morning. In the afternoon she’s developing research articles and pitching independent black-owned publications in eastern TN and NC to publish her work in hopes of further diversifying the land trust’s press list and community outreach.
“I see conservation through an intersectional lens. Protecting land, water, resources, and endangered species of plants and animals, it all comes full circle. We’re all humans and we all depend on these resources, and we’re all a part of this global ecosystem where one thing depends on another, which depends on another and so on. I value the concept of living in harmony with the ecosystems we inhabit, rather than establishing dominion over them.”
“I came into this position hoping to get the kind of hands-on experience that would help incentive me to get my degree in Environmental Studies, and not get burnt out on school. I’ve gotten that and so much more; I’ve gained skills in public speaking, I’ve strengthened my network, I’m building a stronger resume every day, and there’s a kind of confidence you gain from being a part of something that makes a difference that you don’t really get from anything else.”
CTNC has hired more than 100 youth and young adults through its Emerging Leaders Program, which includes the DCIP. On a recent site visit to Carver’s Gap, Tamia got to work alongside members of another of CTNC’s programs, the NC Youth Conservation Corps, to restore a section of the Appalachian Trail that was impacted by gravel erosion.
“This was my favorite moment thus far because, since my work is in communications, I spend a lot of time writing about, advertising, and educating people on the work that we do in the Highlands of Roan, but not often do I get to be part of that work. Actually being a part of it was an incredible experience.”
In her free time, Tamia enjoys hiking and or visiting local swimming holes. She told us “I love hiking to mountaintops. Not only is it good exercise, but from the moment I step foot on the trail to the moment I reach the summit of whatever mountain I’m hiking, I get to really be a part of something bigger than me.”
Reflecting on her internship experience, Tamia adds, “the wealth you gain from exposure to a professional environment is invaluable. I would advise future interns to prioritize building lasting relationships with the people they meet along the course of their term. Their program coordinators, their fellow interns and staff members, and everyone else you meet along the way. You never know what someone could have to offer whether it be a thought-provoking conversation, networking opportunities, or even future jobs.”
CTNC and our partners are proud to cultivate and provide support to our future conservation leaders. We can’t wait to see how Tamia and the rest of the 2017 Diversity in Conservation Internship Program participants continue to advocate for conservation and works to save the places you love across North Carolina!
About CTNC’s Emerging Leaders Program
The Conservation Trust for North Carolina’s Emerging Leaders Program helps connect young people to the outdoors where they can establish a lifelong appreciation for the natural world and an understanding of the critical benefits that land and water conservation provides. Through the Diversity in Conservation Internship Program, CTNC AmeriCorps, NC Youth Conservation Corps, and Future Leaders of Conservation advisory board, CTNC creates employment pathways by connecting young people to academic studies and careers in conservation. Learn more at www.ctnc.org/connect/emergingleaders.