The Conservation Exchange
at Warren Wilson College
Sharing Ideas, Passion and Resources for Innovative Land Stewardship
A Note from the Dean of Land Resources
Warren Wilson College is built on community. That collective spirit permeates our classrooms, work crews and athletics and is explicit in our community engagement activities. This past year with its Zoom meetings, social distancing (boy I miss a simple handshake!)and half faces has been tough on community dynamics everywhere. For that reason I want to use the majority of this newsletter to introduce a few folks who have recently joined the Warren Wilson Family and brought their energy, expertise and leadership to our land stewardship work. We are also looking forward to reconnecting with you all and hope to begin holding regular in-person events again in Fall 2021. In the mean time, be on the lookout for announcements about some small group natural history hikes that I hope to be hosting throughout the summer. Wishing you all a safe and healthy spring - Dave.
“Being a planetary citizen does not need space travel. It means being conscious that we are part of the universe and of the earth. The most fundamental law is to recognize that we share the planet with other beings, and that we have a duty to care for our common home.” - Vandana Shiva
Join our 2021 Spring BioBlitz!
Get your cameras ready, it’s that time of year again! We’re calling all naturalists to help us document the natural world. Our challenge to you is to photograph and submit to iNaturalist as many different species as possible by April 22 (Earth Day). It doesn’t matter if you can identify the species or whether you’re in Alaska or North Carolina. It can be a fungus, plant, or animal, just take a picture and submit! It’s that simple!
As an added bonus, all Conservation Exchange followers/subscribers who submit will be entered into a drawing and the winner will have a $50 donation made in their name to the charity of their choice!
Join in the fun at iNaturalist.
WWC Welcomes New Garden Manager
Alisha Strater has been working in regenerative agriculture since 2002. Politicized through the anti-globalization movement in the early 2000's and inspired by the land sovereignty movement in South Africa, Alisha began their work in land stewardship fueled by the possibilities of community empowerment and self determination. Alisha worked at the College of The Atlantic as assistant and then farm manager for 9 years, combining their passion for farming and education. After a coastal shift, they started a farm from an old baseball field in East Oakland, CA. at Castlemont High School and a 2 acre urban farm/orchard at Mills College where they served as farm manager and taught classes in food and land sovereignty. Most recently Alisha worked for CAFF, (Community Alliance with Family Farmers) as a farm service coordinator providing direct services to farmers across California. Now back on the east coast in the state they went to high school in, Alisha joins Warren Wilson as the garden manager where they hope to work on season extension efforts and integrating the greater community while supporting students to cultivate skills and passion in regenerative agriculture. Beyond work Alisha enjoys throwing pots, playing music, adventures involving bodies of water (particularly hot springs), and engaging the work for our collective liberation.
On the Ground Student Researcher
Hi, I'm Vinnie Grossi. I am currently finishing my junior year here at Warren Wilson College. I am majoring in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Sustainable Agriculture, and a minor in Interfaith Leadership. I currently work on the Farm General Crew. I grew up in the southwest town of Tucson, Arizona. After spending several years working in various fields of small scale vegetable production across the country, I decided to buckle down and join the WWC undergrad program to gain more critical knowledge in the scientific side of farming. Coming to Wilson has sparked a new joy and passion for understanding the dynamic nature of agricultural soils and the work that farmers can do to improve and maintain them. I am currently the lead researcher on the Ferguson Soil Carbon Project working with WWC Professor Joel Bostic and UNCA Geology Professor Jake Hagedorn.
WWC Alum Returns to Lead Land Stewards Crew
Corinna Steinrueck graduated from Warren Wilson in 2019 with a B.S. in Environmental Studies, concentrating in Ecological Forestry and Conservation Biology. She is particularly interested in ecosystem dynamics and expanding her vision of management to incorporate landscape level thinking. During her time as a student she spent consecutive summers researching forest soil ecology at Yale University School of the Environment, deepening her understanding of forest systems. In recent years she has become increasingly interested in agroforestry and its ability to simultaneously meet the needs of the environment and of humans while increasing ecological resilience and its potential to stack enterprises on the land. After graduating she worked with The Forestland Group, an ecological forestry company, before going to Sri Lanka to conduct agroforestry research with the Sri Lankan Program for Forest Conservation. She is excited to be back as a Leadership Fellow supervising The Land Stewards Crew, helping the next cohort of Warren Wilson students grow into themselves and become skilled and knowledgeable land managers. 
New Energy and Experience in Fine Woodworking
Ben Blackmar took over leadership of our fine woodworking shop in Fall 2020. In addition to teaching woodworking, Ben focuses on the individual, challenging each student to challenge themselves. They learn traditional techniques with hand tools as well as modern machinery, and students on the crew come away with a broad array of skills and abilities, as well as the ability to think outside the box and solve problems. Projects so far this academic year have included bowls and cups turned on the lathe, stools, dovetailed boxes, firewood caddies, as well as projects serving the college, such as 150 birdhouses for a research study on the campus land, bat houses for the Garden, and Leopold benches for the campus public spaces. Ben comes to WWC with 20 years of woodworking experience including time at Pisgah Banjo Company, serving as Associate Editor for Fine Woodworking Magazine and owning his own furniture design studio.
Owls and Ivy: A Swannanoa-New Haven Connection
Warren Wilson College and Yale University School of the Environment (YSE) share a lot in common - dedication to experiential learning, a strong sense of community and a commitment to producing leaders who are solution seekers. Four WWC alums are currently studying at YSE, pictured here on the steps of historic Marsh Hall. Chris DeFiore (ENS, 2013) is working on his MF, studying various forestry practices as tools for improving community health. Ryan Smith (ENS, 2013) is working on his MF also, focusing on forest landscape restoration and agroforestry. Erica Helen (ENS, 2008) is enrolled in the Mid-Career MES Program and is involved in developing heathy soil initiatives and agricultural solutions to climate change. Tony Mazza (Philosophy, 2015) is dual enrolled at YSE/MF and Pace Law/JD working on legislative affairs and policy for natural climate solutions. This connection dates back to the 1970's when Dr. Alan Haney, Yale School of Forestry and Environment Studies graduate, founded the Environmental Studies Department at Warren Wilson College and became the school's first forestry professor.
2000 Trees Planted as "Edible" Stream Buffers
Working with partner Restoration Systems, WWC Forestry Crew and Land Stewards students planted 2000 trees along the conservation easements that protect the recently completed stream mitigation project. Along with some of the more typical species that would be planted, RS provided fruit and nut species such as pawpaw, red mulberry, hazelnut, persimmon and black walnut. Incorporating these species provides multi-functional stream buffers that stabilize soil, provide cover habitat and create foraging opportunities for wildlife and humans. This is another example of the College's goal of demonstrating land management practices that can promote ecological resilience while providing societal benefits.
Interested in Giving to The Conservation Exchange?
Your generous gift will go towards helping us maintain and improve the recreation, research and education infrastructures of our land and will support continued outreach opportunities for the Warren Wilson College Conservation Community. To give, go to the link below, choose "Other" and designate "Conservation Exchange" on the form. Thank you for being part of our Conservation Community!
Contact: Dave Ellum