Making an Impact

Throughout our time as wilderness stewardship organization, we have taken pride in the impact that we've made in both nature spaces and visitors and staff alike. We strive to help facilitate positive wilderness experiences for work and for play.

 

We love reading the end-of-season blogs, reflections of time spent in the wilderness, and visitor thank you notes we receive in our inbox.

"I remember why I fell in love with seasonal work; to experience a new place, to meet new people, to gain a new skill-set. I’m usually challenged to re-think and re-imagine concepts I thought I understood, opinions I thought I held."

“My professional training exercise with SAWS was one of the most rewarding and valuable experiences of my life thus far. Loved every second of it.” 

 

- Robyn Roper - Wilderness Field Crew 2018

“Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards, SAWS for short, was my new short-term commitment. At first, not completely sure of the decision, I felt as though I’d settled short of the goal of finding a permanent position. I was wrong. I admit to this now because of the amazing experience SAWS has afforded me. I’ve spent this past summer, and now this autumn, experiencing and serving the wild places of North Carolina in a way I couldn’t have imagined.

I remember why I fell in love with seasonal work; to experience a new place, to meet new people, to gain a new skill-set. I’m usually challenged to re-think and re-imagine concepts I thought I understood, opinions I thought I held.

For me, a job doesn’t have to be permanent to be real, but it does have to leave a permanent mark – on me. And sometimes I’m lucky enough to feel as though I’ve left a permanent mark on the people and places I’ve served.”

- Elizabeth Collins (Wilderness Ranger 2016)

"As a newcomer to North Carolina, I couldn't have asked for a better introduction to conservation work in the South East, than getting to spend my summer on a SAWS crew. And in a global pandemic, I was grateful, not only to be outside, but also for the intention and care with which SAWS re-structured the season to keep its staff safe. I was impressed to find that despite the time necessary to adapt to COVID, SAWS spent significant energy and focus to set expectations and support staff in anti-racism training. SAWS staff and my supervisors were wonderfully supportive and available as my crew and I navigated the challenges of this season and I'm so thankful to have gotten to work with them this season. I look forward to discovering what possibilities my experiences with SAWS may offer in the future. 

Rebekah Morrisson (Crew Leader 2020)

“My professional training exercise with SAWS was one of the most rewarding and valuable experiences of my life thus far. Loved every second of it.” 

 

- Robyn Roper (Wilderness Field Crew 2018)

“When I was initially hired by SAWS I expected to move to the Southern Appalachians for 10 months, gain some experience and then hightail it back out West. Arriving at SAWS I was looking for the chance to get back into the field, check out a new landscape and slow my career down, stepping away from a desk and returning to the work that had scooped me in a few years earlier. Instead, SAWS provided me with the opportunity to be in the field but also recognized and discovered ways to balance my desire for hands on work and leadership opportunities. The leadership team recognized my skill sets and passions and aligned those with the organizational mission creating opportunities for me to grow, expand and contribute to an organization and work for which I care deeply. Those initial 10 months turned into almost five years, just recently leaving to pursue a Master's of Natural Resources. My experience at SAWS in partnerships, management and fulfilling a meaningful mission is what drove me to apply to graduate school and to pursue future leadership opportunities in the conservation world.  At SAWS I found a balance between my passions and my desire to lead, a place where I was nurtured to use my talents and challenged to grow to support the overall mission of the organization.”

- Katie Currier (Program Director 2020)

“My summer on the Wilderness Conservation Corps crew with SAWS was perhaps the best of my life, due to the people I had the pleasure of working with and the beautiful environment in which we were working.  The work was certainly challenging, and by Day 7 of most hitches I was convinced that I had lost my marbles a couple miles back. However, it was in those times of exhaustion that I found many of the things which made the summer so remarkable.”

- Nathan Mynatt (Wilderness Ranger 2014)

“I was beyond excited to start this new opportunity. The fear of failing as a leader terrified me until I began training at the Wilderness Skills Institute. With all I was learning and all the people I was meeting, I began feeling more confident and aware of the skills I had acquired over the years in this field of work. I was more prepared than ever to take on the challenges I was to face in the next six weeks. When the crew arrived, I was excited and ready to begin teaching them all that I had learned over the past few weeks. Working with other experienced crew leaders also made the transition from student to teacher easier.”

- Roger Osorio (Crew Leader 2014)

"We have often reflected since our May experience and know his awareness had led to our successful trip in and out of the wilderness area."

“We were not as prepared for the trail I chose and soon realized we would be in the gorge longer than I anticipated.

On our way down trail, Ranger Scotty Bowman passed us and stopped to chat. Before our trip out, we saw him three times, I soon realized he was concerned as to our preparedness.  Finally, when he came back and told us a thunderstorm was eminent and wanted us to know. I joked with him that he thought we would not get out in time. We have often reflected since our May experience and know his awareness had led to our successful trip in and out of the wilderness area. It was a wonderful day of enjoying the time with nature before losing ability to be out in this environment for the rest of the year. A big shout out to the Ranger Scotty that day. We often tell people of your organization.  Hoping Scotty Bowman is still contributing to your staff!”

- Wilderness Visitor 

“While hiking out near Babel we ran in to a SAWS Ranger, I believe he said his name was Nick.

He was out with a shovel, cleaning up and clearing. He stopped and talked to my kids at length testing their knowledge (I was proud of their responses) and informing them about the work SAWS does and the impact of people in the gorge on wildlife and plant life. He was super friendly and engaged the kids extremely well. It was a definite highlight of the day and he also reinforced all the lessons I had been teaching them while we were out there.

I was hoping you might pass along my gratitude to him for the example he set, his knowledge he shared, and the work he is doing. My kids talked at length about him afterwards.”

- Wilderness Visitor

"My time with SAWS will forever be a defining point in my career and I still seek support from my SAWS family when I have questions or doubts.”

“The connections built at the Wilderness Skills Institute are framed under a shared interest in wilderness. These are connections to place, connections to the concept of Wilderness – and perhaps most important – connections to each other. The Institute has volunteers, partner staff and Forest Service staff all learning together, creating bonds built around shared wilderness values.”

- WSI Participant

“I spent two more seasons working for SAWS in trail crew leadership positions and these experiences challenged me to grow as a person and a leader. I learned a lot about the Forest Service and national wilderness and trail standards by working closely with agency partners. I was able to further my trail building skills and teach others about backcountry camping, LNT, and trail work. I found all of this to be very fulfilling, and I cherish the personal connections that were made during my time working for SAWS. My work with SAWS afforded me a merit towards attaining a permanent job within national land management agencies and it was this, along with all my varied experience that landed me in my current position as Forestry Tech (Wilderness/Trails) on the Hoosier National Forest in Southern Indiana. Now, being on the opposite side of the partnership spectrum serving as an agency contact, I see how organizations like SAWS are such a valuable resource to our public lands. My time with SAWS will forever be a defining point in my career and I still seek support from my SAWS family when I have questions or doubts.”

- Virginia Lauterbach (Crew Leader 2019)

"I was lucky enough to start working for SAWS seven days after I graduated college. Over the course of the next decade I continued working with SAWS in a diversity of different positions that wholeheartedly crafted my skill set as a professional. SAWS gave me the opportunity to work and collect data as a wilderness technician as well as crafts foundational management documents for land management. As I've moved on to other Land Management agencies I've inherently developed a specialization in wilderness from working with saws and marinating in a culture that celebrates public lands and the stewards that it is crafting or cultivating."

- Stephen Eren (Lead Wilderness Ranger 2019)

Mountains

CONTACT US

ADDRESS

225 E Chestnut St, STE 001

Asheville, NC 28801

PHONE

828-785-1517

EMAIL

© 2020 by Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards