SYLVA, NORTH CAROLINA – In time to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the national forest system in the East, The Wilderness Society recently appointed Jill Gottesman as outreach coordinator to increase conservation efforts in North Carolina.
Gottesman, former outreach director at Georgia ForestWatch, will be responsible for expanding community awareness and participation in the region for legislative protection of national forests in North Carolina.
“Jill’s wilderness background and community practices experience will benefit western North Carolina for years to come,” said Brent Martin, Southern Appalachian program director at TWS. “She brings a wealth of experience and expertise working with communities to our current capacity at the Sylva TWS office.”
Gottesman has an extensive background working with people and wilderness. She got her start studying outdoor recreation and resource management at the University of Georgia. Throughout her time there, she augmented her experience by working on a trail crew in the Pacific Northwest. She also studied desert ecology and wilderness education with a backcountry class in Utah and led a volunteer spring break trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where she and her crew assisted with wetland restoration projects.
Gottesman also brings membership, fundraising and counseling expertise to the position. After working at a wilderness therapy program in western North Carolina, she earned a Master of Social Work from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. With this degree, she shifted her focus to community work with nonprofit organizations.
With this experience, Gottesman hopes to build local partnerships and build broader political support for wilderness designations in North Carolina. Gottesman and Martin are planning events to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Weeks Act this spring and fall to emphasize the importance of public lands. The Weeks Act -- passed by congress in 1911-- created the national forest system in the East and provided federal funding for the newly protected land. Only land in the West had government protection prior to this legislation. The celebratory events will include activities such as holding a wilderness journaling workshop and teaching stewardship and restoration practices to the local community.
“I am thrilled to return to western North Carolina,” Gottesman said. “I am excited to tap into our unique sense of place in the Southern Appalachians and gain support for our campaigns at The Wilderness Society.”