DCIP Spotlight: A Summer on the Appalachian Trail with Khidhar McKenzie

During Summer 2017, CTNC hired 19 interns for full-time, 10-week, paid internships through the Diversity in Conservation Internship Program (DCIP) 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 Khidhar McKenzie, a 2017 intern with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

Our Diversity in Conservation interns’  summer experiences are anything but ordinary. That is especially true for Khidhar Mckenzie, the Conservation Leadership Intern with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, who spent his work hours outside in various State Parks and other locations along the longest hiking path in the world.

Khidhar’s internship started with a backpacking trip alongside fellow interns in the Conservation Leadership Corps program. Subsequent weeks were spent in certification courses, from Wilderness First Aid, to Bird Banding, to Leave No Trace Master Education. Almost every week, Khidhar traveled to a new site in a different state, making a total of 15 site visits during his 10-week program.

“I believe that if we do not take note of the changes that are happening around us and find ways to slow them or stop them completely, it will result in a world not worth living in. This internship was my first real introduction to conservation and I really enjoyed all of the knowledge I received,” said Khidhar.

Amidst all his work on trails and parks, Khidhar also got to experience the conservation field in a professional development setting through the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, and several nonprofits.

“I have gained a ton of information on the different aspects of conservation. Along with that, I have gained the inspiration to do more when I hear about other people’s goals and aspirations. I would tell future DCIP interns to stay in touch with each other because they are surrounded by a lot of brilliant people with great ideas.”

CTNC and our partners are proud to cultivate and provide support to our future conservation leaders. We can’t wait to see how Khidhar 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 ProgramCTNC AmeriCorpsNC 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.