In May, our Pathways Into Nature and Environmental Science (PINES) program wrapped up their semester with our largest cohort of students yet! This year TLC was able to expand the program by welcoming 10 students from Knightdale High School to join us in exploring the outdoors, careers in conservation, and create community around learning and nature.
The group consisted of a mix of students from freshmen to seniors, and 3 were returning Fellows from the previous year. “I was inspired to join PINES by my love for nature and my curiosity about how I can help do my part to protect it and practice stewardship,” said Hanna Camptella, a returning PINES fellow and a graduating senior.
Throughout the semester, the students embarked on several exciting field trips and participated in hands-on experiences to get a feel for the world of conservation and outdoor recreation. From birdwatching hikes to an overnight camping trip, the semester was full of new experiences where the Fellows gained skills in outdoor navigation, plant ID, environmental stewardship and just feeling comfortable and confident outside.
In addition to learning directly from TLC, the PINES program also brings students to partner organizations in the region to highlight the breadth of our work and the diversity of careers in this space. This year’s partner trips included a Saturday spent learning about sustainable agriculture with Earthseed Land Collective’s Tierra Negra Farm and a visit to the North Carolina Botanical Garden to explore and identify native plants.
Beyond engaging trips, the PINES students also began work this spring on a long-term project that will eventually become a new trail at the Bailey & Sarah Williamson Preserve. This trail, which will pass by the agriculture pavilion off of Walnut Hill Way, will be designed as a family-friendly trail, complete with interpretive signage and a nature play space for children.
In May, 4 of the students graduated high school and each have exciting post-graduation plans pursuing STEM-related careers at NC State, Duke, and NC Central. The remaining 6 Fellows are set to return in the fall in leadership roles and help shape the adventures for the next cohort. “The PINES program helped me find a way to direct my passion for nature and ability to problem solve into a career path and has helped me in countless ways,” shared Hanna, who plans to return in a role supporting the Education & Outreach team alongside her college studies.
“I’m really proud of the hard work of our PINES staff and students on such a fun second year of the program! Seeing the program grow from an idea to 5 kids in the first year, to 10 kids in the second year was extremely gratifying,” says Diquan Edmonds, TLC’s Education & Outreach Manager. “Also, seeing how the students came together and formed bonds with each other and staff was amazing to see. I’m glad that I have the privilege to watch these young leaders grow in their relationships with each other and nature!”
Learn more about the PINES program here and be on the lookout for applications for our next cohort in November 2023!