Willow McNeil

Willow grew up in Berkeley, California, spending the majority of her childhood in redwood forests and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. After moving to North Carolina, her family took annual trips to the Asheville area, where she fell in love with the mountains of WNC. At the age of four, she declared she was going to be a biologist, and eighteen years later she graduated from the University of North Carolina Asheville with a bachelor’s degree in biology. She spent her undergraduate years working as a tutor for UNCA’s Writing Center and researching snakes in the Caribbean. After experiencing firsthand the amazing plant and animal diversity of the Appalachians, she knew it would be difficult to call anywhere else home. Her passions led her to EcoForesters, where she worked as our Social Media Coordinator before coming on full-time as our Development Associate. In her free time, you can find her out on the trails, at the gym, or curled up on the couch with her husband and two cats.

Kenzie Alexander

Mackenzie is a Minnesota native who spent her summers in the northern portion of the state ever since she was young and developed a deep passion for the outdoors and for teaching others about their surroundings. She followed this passion into her schooling at North Dakota State University and achieved her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Natural Resources Management focusing in Forestry and Extension. She grew up visiting Hendersonville to visit her grandparents and in 2021 she achieved the life long goal of moving to the Asheville area to be closer to her family and to start her own journey into the forests of Western North Carolina. In her spare time you can catch her working on a variety of hobbies varying from sewing or painting in her at-home art studio to white water rafting with her close friends and family.

Bobby Gordon

Bobby grew up in the piedmont of NC, working as a farm hand and landscaper throughout high school. He earned a B.S. in Environmental Studies from UNC Asheville in 2021, developing a passion for all things plants and ecology. After graduating, Bobby worked at Mellow Marsh Farm native plant nursery, gaining skills in native plant propagation and identification. This experience instilled in him the importance of native plants as the foundation for biodiversity conservation, leading to his interest in invasive plant management and forest restoration. In his free time, Bobby enjoys hiking, playing music, and learning about the natural world—you can never be bored when you’re outdoors.

Will Walston

Will is a graduate from the University of North Carolina at Asheville with a BS in Environmental Studies concentrating in Ecology and Environmental Biology. While in school Will spent his time working for a biodynamic farm in the Black Mountains and hiking through Pisgah National Forest. After college, Will relocated to the Buffalo area for an AmeriCorps position with New York State Parks as an invasive steward and later worked for SUNY Research Foundation with their regional invasive species management program. When not at work you can find Will playing music, skateboarding, or hanging with his cat Soup.

Brittany Howard

Born on the Gulf Coast of Florida, Brittany spent time every summer in Whittier, where her great-grandparents had an adventurous start to a family tradition. They spent one summer camped out, building a small cabin with their children. That cabin is still in use today and it was there, on trips with her grandparents, Brittany’s love of the area and its forests was able to grow. It was a childhood dream achieved for her to make the move to the Asheville area in 2018 with her husband and their three dogs. She recently re-enrolled in school and is pursuing her Bachelor’s in Marketing from WCU. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, volunteering in animal rescue, and finding new trails to hike with her husband, often with a foster dog in tow.

Sarah Sussman

Sarah grew up in Atlanta, GA., spending time with her family hiking & camping in Western North Carolina, fostering her love for the natural world. After her family moved to Bryson City, NC. Sarah attended Appalachian State University, where she received a B.S in Sustainable Development: Environmental Studies and a certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). After graduating from App State, Sarah wanted to give back to the places that inspired her to pursue a career path in the environmental field. She served with the Student Conservation Association in the Catskills, and two AmeriCorps terms with Conserving Carolina and Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy in Asheville, NC. While in AmeriCorps, Sarah gained experience in land management and stewardship activities. She also earned her Pesticide Applicator License in 2021. Sarah’s hobbies include running, hiking, photography, and embroidery.