My Summer in Asheville Filled with a Passion for Nature

Written by Jessie (Tianyang) Hu

I first knew Dogwood Alliance from the Stanback Internship Program at the Nicholas School of Duke University. I chose Dogwood partly because I’m an environmental student who is interested in renewable energy, and partly because Dogwood Alliance is not a big NGO that could give me real hands-on experience! It turned out that this was a decision I’ll never regret.

I spent much of the time digging up why whole-tree burning biomass is much worse for the environment than wind and solar energy. Although I learned a lot about fossil fuels and some of the renewable energies in school, I’d never had a chance before to research biomass. As I am getting familiar with this topic, I am surprised to know how deep my supervisor Scot Quaranda (Dogwood’s Campaign Director) has gone into it. When I tried to understand the increasing demand of biomass from Europe, he interpreted this problem by showing how many more export ports are constructed along the southeast coast in the US, which I had never thought of or researched before. Furthermore, I continue to be impressed with the enthusiasm they all have in this organization. Generally speaking, Scot’s day begins with checking voice messages, followed by continuous phone calls and phone conferences all day long. Sometimes, with his busy schedule, he can only squeeze in a quick carryout lunch. Even so, he has been working here for 13 years, and he is so excited and happy when talking about his work! So is Andrew, the Director of Corporate Engagement. He once attended a conference three days in a row, then drove to Charlotte to have a work dinner and didn’t make it back to Asheville until 2am. I have to say, I admire their great passion and their dedication to their careers!

Aside from work, Dogwood Alliance is like a new, warm family to me here in Asheville. I had my first live baseball game with my nice colleagues. I remember clearly the moment when Scot, the other interns and myself sat in the field, watching the beautiful fireworks in the sky. I knew for sure that this picture would live in my memory forever. I also had my first July 4th in the US here at Dogwood’s Development Director, Patrick Fitzsimmons’ house. It was a lovely and warm family party, I’m so grateful that I could enjoy the holiday with traditional BBQ and fireworks with my American friends.

Suzanna was the first person I met here, and the orientation week she organized was truly helpful. Her big smile always made my day. Amanda gave me tips on where to find the best coffee shop in Asheville and also brought us delicious cake. Helen showed me all the postcards on the refrigerator that she and others send to Dogwood from their world travels, and she shared with me her enthusiasm for nature and life. Danna, as the Executive Director, is more like a helmsman of a ship, giving the whole direction of the organization. I know I’ll miss ya’ll after my 11 weeks!

I like the idea of Dogwood Alliance that if you want to protect nature, you need to love nature first. Thankfully, we can take every other Friday afternoon off to embrace mountain life. You live in the mountains, why not go hiking?!

Thank you so much Dogwood Alliance for my wonderful summer in Asheville, and thank you Fred Stanback for the opportunity to meet so many amazing people pursuing their dreams!

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