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Aspiring Wildlife Biologist Finds Community in Summer of Service

Jason Brandyburg joined Conserving Carolina’s Summer of Service in its inaugural year. He had learned of the opportunity through his professor in the Henderson County Early College program in association with Blue Ridge Community College.

The son of a National Park Service employee, Jason grew up surrounded by America’s most special places. From the start, he had an interest in wildlife and always wanted to learn more. Jason’s mother, Mary, recalls his tendency to rescue injured animals and protect insects on playgrounds.

Though he was already knowledgeable of many lands and animals, Summer of Service was Jason’s first real opportunity to experience those unique to western North Carolina.

“I enjoyed that this was my first job where I was out in the wilderness and got to see places where if I hadn’t had this job, I would’ve never known about.”

Jason connected with the other Summer of Service crew members through their shared challenges and desire to be involved in the community.

“It’s great. You get to talk while you’re on the trails, you get to express ideas, and it shows you new sides of people as well as the community,” he said.

Jason sees the importance in all nature and wildlife but realizes that inciting inspiration to save endangered species is a difficult task because the creatures in question are often far away, out of sight for most people. He believes that educating the community on its own surroundings is the solution to creating the desire to protect nature.

“It’s a disconnect to only save exotic wildlife and not appreciate and protect what’s in your own backyard, like the red wolf.”

As a future wildlife biologist, he hopes to use his growing knowledge of wildlife to help others understand the importance of taking care of wild spaces and the species that inhabit them.

“If we learn to take care of the nature around us, it will take care of us.”