Friends of the MST staff has grown by two;  Ben Jones, as Coastal Crescent Project Manager, and Carrie Vernia as Office Manager.  And 12-year volunteer Liz Dean signs off.

Ben is connecting with and advocating for local stakeholders along the route of the Coastal Crescent and conducting analysis, planning, and design work to continue the trails development in these areas. He is also working on the ground to build new trail and support volunteer efforts as this new and exciting route continues to build momentum. Ben lives in Durham with his wife Carrie and 8 month old son Parker. He is a recent graduate of NC State’s Master’s of Landscape Architecture program and an experienced horticulturalist. While at NC state he worked as a graduate teaching and research assistant for the departments of Landscape Architecture and Horticultural Science, a research assistant with the Coastal Dynamics Design Lab, and as a design consultant with the Friends of the Mountains to Sea Trail.

Carrie, in her position as Office Manager, will keep membership updated and renewed, help with general accounting, and do most anything else to keeps the office running smoothly.  Carrie volunteered in the Friends office in the fall of 2018.  In her previous career, Carrie hiked throughout the state doing fungi research with NC State’s Department of plant pathology after getting a master’s in forestry. She then moved on to teach high school science and English as a second language (ESL), which she still does in the evenings. Carrie retired from teaching last year, to go pursue a masters in Social Work in the fall of 2019.

Liz Dean has been volunteering in the Friends’ office for the last 12 years.  Her accounting prowess has been key in keeping the Friends numbers square.  Liz also puts in many hours at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences in Downtown Raleigh.  We will miss Liz greatly, and appreciate her countless hours over the years, her adaptability to new versions of Quickbooks and her patience with our feisty printer.