Samantha Reganess

Samantha is a native of the Carolina Piedmont area. She briefly worked in EMS before deciding the call of conservation work was louder, causing her to join American Conservation Experience (ACE) in 2019. She quickly found her passion and worked as an Assistant Crew Lead for almost a year. Her next step was as a Gardening Crew Lead for an environmental landscaping company for two years. Currently, Samantha is an Assistant Crew Lead with EcoForesters and is in college at Haywood Community earning her associate degree in forestry management technology. In her off time, she can be found getting lost in the woods searching for rare plants, tending to her garden, writing her book, and playing with her boy cat Fen. 

Aaron Parra-Asgari

I grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana until relocating to North Carolina at age 12. North Carolina’s diverse and beautiful landscapes captured my interest immediately upon arrival. I attended Western Carolina University where I earned my B.S. in Environmental Science. I have worked in many different conservation positions over the years and have enjoyed every bit of it. The field work I have done has been incredibly rewarding and I look forward to continuing the discipline. Outside of work you can find me hiking with my wife and dog or training martial arts with friends at the gym. 

Jordan Bowerman

Jordan grew up in eastern Pennsylvania where he watched the open space he spent most of his childhood in get swallowed up by housing developments and urban sprawl. This observation made an impact on him and sparked a desire to protect natural resources. He continued developing a love for the outdoors through activities such as hiking, gardening, fishing, and scouting. These interests led him to pursue an education in Natural Resource Management. After graduating from The State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry he worked for multiple forestry and agricultural programs including The New York State Department of Conservation, The University of Idaho’s Inter- Mountain Forest Tree nutrition Co-op, and Washington State University Puyallup Research and Extension Center. His love for discovering how natural communities function, and the effects management can have on these communities, is continuously exercised here in the southern Appalachian forests.

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.