By Alex Grant

Workman poses for a picture with students at the largest living hemlock in Cheoah, N.C.
Workman poses for a picture with students at the largest living hemlock in Cheoah, N.C.

Sarah Workman, IE’s new site coordinator of the Highlands Field Site and associate director at the Highlands Biological Station, traces her love for the environment back to her roots. Workman grew up between Tennessee and North Carolina and was raised by naturalist parents, aunts and uncles, who enjoyed bird watching, exploring wildlife habitats and hikes through the woods.

“I think it was my character that made me passionate about the environment,” Workman said. “I’ve always been inspired and awed by nature and processes so I think my natural mode is as an observer. That’s what got me into study of science—watching how things work.”

Before joining IE in Aug. 2016, Workman filled her career with environmental work. After pursing a master’s degree in plant ecology from Western Washington University, she joined the Peace Corps. Following her experience with forestry in West Africa in the Peace Corps, she pursued her doctoral degree in Forest Soils and Biology at the University of Georgia and then returned overseas to work in agroforestry and natural resource management with international and national partner organizations.

Workman returned to Western North Carolina in 2014 to work for the Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center, within the Southern Research Station of the U.S. Forest Service. As a technology transfer specialist with the center, she dealt with the big issues of environmental change, primarily disturbance science involving climate, invasive species and wildfire impacts.

Now, Workman is thrilled to apply her love for the environment to her position at IE.

“I am so pleased to be working within the University System of North Carolina and be in Highlands,” Workman said. “It’s a great opportunity to work with excellent students and faculty, and it also gives us an amazing opportunity to showcase the biodiversity hotspot that we have here in the southern Appalachians.”

In her free time, she is an avid reader. She loves movies that are not in the horror genre or “overly corny.” Workman also enjoys hiking, travel, the tropics and exploring new places, especially to meet people, watch birds and reinvigorate her spirit in natural settings.

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