Who We Are

Meet the team!

Meet the Team

Get to know your friendly neigborhood EcoForesters.

Andy Tait
Director of Ecoforestry | Asheville Area

After exploring the woods for his whole life and 10 years doing on-the-ground research on ecologically beneficial forest stewardship in western North Carolina, Andy has been the EcoForestry Director since EcoForesters’ inception in 2015. Putting to use the best science on southern Appalachian forest stewardship – which he was part of at the US Forest Service’s Southern Research Station in Asheville for 6 years – is his passion. Andy works to advance the practice of forestry from his experience with cutting edge upland hardwood silviculture (how to grow trees, oaks in particular) at the Bent Creek Experimental Forest, and integrated forest health management to conserve, restore, and enhance our forests. Andy has also managed a private forest and worked on numerous natural resource conservation projects in the region since 2005. Previously, Andy taught high school and led youth backpacking trips, hiked half the Appalachian Trail, and bicycled around the country before moving to Asheville with his wife (who is from the area) to follow his true calling: forestry. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, biking, gardening, and spending as much time as possible with his wife and two little boys. Andy oversees all of EcoForesters’ Southern Appalachian forestry projects, including forest stewardship planning and timber sale administration.

Ian Anderson
Director of Ecoforestry | Boone Area

Ian was born on a Tennessee woodlot in the heart of Southern Appalachia. He grew up in the mountains and spent most of his summers playing in streams and disturbing ecological habitats. After high school, Ian went on to graduate with a B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology from the University of Vermont in 2006. During his time at UVM, he worked on a Student Conservation Association trail crew in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. After graduating, he began working for the USDA Forest Service in California and then Idaho. In 2010, Ian left the Forest Service to join the US Peace Corps as a coastal resource management volunteer and served 2 years in the Philippines. Through these experiences, he gained an appreciation for community based natural resource management. Ian went on to earn a M.S. in Forest Resources from the University of Maine in 2017. In his off time, Ian enjoys hiking, gardening, hunting, reading, traveling, and responsible hobby logging.

Wade Johnston
Director of Mapping and Technology

Wade developed two seemingly incompatible passions at a young age: a fondness for the outdoors and a love of cutting edge technology. When he was a kid, you would have similar luck finding him building a fort in the woods as you might finding him tinkering around in his parents’ computer. As an Eagle Scout, Wade learned the value in serving others and developed a moral obligation to environmental stewardship. In college he had trouble deciding whether to pursue a career that involved working in the outdoors or one in computer systems/IT. Luckily he stumbled upon a program of study at Western Carolina University that afforded the best of both worlds – Geospatial Analysis in Forestry! Wade began working as a student intern at Forest Stewards in 2009, and continued after graduating with honors in 2011 until he took a position as full time staff. In 2015 he became one of the founding staff for EcoForesters as the Director of Mapping and Technology, and gets to put both his skills and his lifelong passions to work for the greater good.

Lang Hornthal
Director of Development and Communications

For over twenty years, Lang became acquainted with the diversity of Western North Carolina forests as the owner of Appalachian Designs, a woodworking business in Asheville. He worked with landowners to design one of kind furniture pieces, as well as to sustainably harvest small diameter materials like locust and rhododendron. These relationships strengthened his appreciation for the many lives touched by forests and led him to start the non-profit, Root Cause whose mission was community sustainability through support and advocacy for forest-based businesses. A desire for additional education in long range strategic planning resulted in Lang pursuing a master’s degree in Sustainability Studies where he continued his work of seeking solutions to the many problems that confront our regions forests. When the opportunity presented itself to join the EcoForesters team, Lang jumped at the chance to be part of this important advocacy work. Lang still finds himself in the woods with his wife and four boys, hiking and exploring in this incredible region.

Mary Vann Johnston
Forestry Associate

Growing up, you would almost always find Mary Vann exploring the woods of western North Carolina either on her horse or "hoofing it" on foot. Eager to learn more about these natural communities, she went on to pursue her B.S. in Environmental Science with a concentration in Sustainable Forestry from Warren Wilson College. She began her career in forestry with a student internship at Forest Stewards and after college began working full time at Blue Ridge Forestry in Asheville. Mary Vann is passionate about her work at EcoForesters because of its dedication to positive impact forestry, conservation, and education here in the Appalachian Mountains. She enjoys engaging in conversation with landowners to learn what they love about their forest. When she’s not in the woods, you’ll find Mary Vann learning about native plants, working with horses, cooking up comfort food, or reading the works of Carl A. Schenck.

Gabby Hovis
GIS and Conservation Technician

Gabby spent her early life hiking and camping with her family and gained a fond appreciation for the joys of the woods and what it provides. At Western Carolina University, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resource Conservation and Management. Immediately after graduation in 2014 she joined Forest Stewards as an intern and later stayed at Forest Stewards as an Americorps Project Conserve volunteer. She is currently pursuing a graduate certificate in GIS from NC State. In her spare time she enjoys reading, traveling, camping, and spending time with family and friends. She is excited to work part-time at EcoForesters to put her skills to use, as well as to learn new ones.

Armin Weise
Forestry Technician

Having grown up in Germany, Armin spent a lot of time in the surrounding fields and forests of a small village in the Ore Mountains. Next to tending to animals and a garden, there was always time to go explore the nearby woodlands in the search for adventure and mushrooms for dinner. These childhood experiences have left a lasting impression on his life which, once he had moved to the United States, drove Armin to get to know and experience forests up and down the east coast through work and travel. Earning a degree with honors in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Sustainable Forestry from Warren Wilson College solidified his dedication to protect our Appalachian Forests. Armin is committed to practicing positive impact forestry in order to fulfill society's need for lumber production while at the same time conservering and improving the health of these invaluable ecosystems. While not at work, you will still find Armin exploring the woods in search for rare plants, fungi, and the beauty of the different mountain ecosystems.

Jon Shaffer
Forest Carbon Consultant

At an early age Jon gained an appreciation for the outdoors and forested ecosystems through exploring the woods around his home, canoeing and fishing along the Potomac River, and enjoying family camping trips in the Maryland and Virginia mountains. To pursue his goals of forest stewardship and conservation, he obtained a master's of forestry from the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University. Since that time, Jon has worked extensively in the southern Appalachian region for more than six years, providing consulting forestry services to private landowners and municipalities, as well as being involved in prescribed fire research on state and federal lands. He has comprehensive experience in forest stewardship planning, forest inventory design and implementation, timber sale planning and administration, forest growth modeling, controlled burning, and geospatial analysis. Jon has also become one of a small handful of experts capable of quantifying and verifying carbon offsets from Appalachian forestlands. In addition to starting our New England EcoForestry branch, Jon’s work includes verifying Forest Carbon Offset projects under the California Air Resources Board protocol. Jon recently moved to New Hampshire where he enjoys working in and exploring New England’s forests, fishing, cross country skiing, gardening, hunting, and backpacking and canoeing with his wife and Labrador retriever.

Our Mission

EcoForesters is a non-profit professional forestry organization dedicated to conserving and restoring our Appalachian forests.