Kayla Carter, Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership

Appalachia CARES AmeriCorps alum, Kayla Carter, is the Outdoor Development Manager at Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership. After serving, she wanted to make this experience available to others, while helping to grow and develop a new organization doing great things in her community.

Like many of us, Kayla discovered her true passion surrounded by the scenic beauty of nature. After five years as a newspaper journalist, she quit her job to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. “The trail changed me completely,” Kayla said. “It opened my mind up to so many options for my future that I could have never dreamed up. The trail also taught me the importance of giving back through volunteerism. Volunteers are who steward the nation’s most iconic long trail. Without volunteers, it would not exist.”

Upon completing the AT, she found an ad in the local newspaper featuring an AmeriCorps position related to communications, so she decided to check it out. Though she wasn’t very familiar with AmeriCorps, she did her research and decided national service was the natural next step to becoming the person she wanted to be and getting involved in her community. She served part time for a year in Clinch-Powell’s Appalachia CARES AmeriCorps program, informing the public on local food resources, and engaging them in service-learning projects related to reducing their environmental footprint by supporting local agriculture.

In Kayla’s current position with NETREP, she is working with community partners and businesses to develop and promote outdoor resources and recreation opportunities in the Northeast Tennessee region. Kayla realized that NETREP would benefit greatly from the assistance of an AmeriCorps member, and she also knew there was a shared goal of strengthening communities between NETREP and Clinch-Powell’s Appalachia CARES program. Their first AmeriCorps member, Erica Malpass, has been serving with them full time for 11 months, about to wrap up her year of service. Kayla says the partnership has greatly aided the organization, as well as the member. “After service, we hope Erica and future members, no matter where they end up, will be an ambassador for our community. We hope they leave us feeling they contributed to the community in a meaningful way.”

Thanks to alums like Kayla, and strong partner organizations, Appalachia CARES AmeriCorps service continues to impact communities, long after a member’s term ends. If you are interested in becoming a partner or learning more, visit our website or give us a call at 865.828.5927.