New Palmetto Conservation Corps program director

·3 min read

Sep. 13—Catie Hutchison with dog Ky.

Courtesy photo

NEWBERRY COUNTY — Catie Hutchison likes to hike and travel. Her new role as the program director for the Palmetto Conservation Corps will have her traveling throughout the state as she supervises work on the Palmetto Trail, a mountains-to-the-sea hiking and mountain biking trail.

The Palmetto Conservation Corps is South Carolina's only trail-based AmeriCorps service and job-training program. The corps recruits young adults with career interests in public land management and environmental stewardship. On the Trail and in partner state parks and forests, corps crews learn job skills, teamwork and leadership to safely build and maintain recreational trails using best construction practices for sustainability

"For me this felt like the perfect opportunity. It's letting me match my skill set to work in an area that I really love," Hutchison said. "From the first time I spoke with Mary, I could tell how committed everyone at Palmetto Trail was to this work and to their team which made me want to be a part of it."

The College of Charleston grad comes to the Palmetto Trail after two years as a middle school social studies teacher in Colleton County with Teach for America. Prior to that challenge, Hutchison worked for the DC-based Women's Foreign Policy Group in several different roles. Her love of hiking and service converged in her job with Palmetto Trail.

"Everyone at Palmetto Trail has been so welcoming, and I've been very impressed by all of our corps members. We're onboarding a new corps team right now, and we have such an interesting slate of projects for them across the state this fall. It's a lot to be excited about," she said.

Mary Roe, executive director of the Palmetto Trail organization said,"Catie is a gem, She immediately immersed herself in our work, and got the corps members on-board and on the Trail in record time."

Hutchison grew up on a Christmas Tree Farm in Loudon County, Virginia, as the oldest of four siblings. Living at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains meant that the outdoors has always been part of her life.

"My dad would take us camping sometimes when we were younger, and we lived very close to parts of the Appalachian Trail that we could hike," she said.

In addition to hiking, Hutchison loves coffee, travel and her dog Ky, probably not in that order. She's hiked widely in this country and abroad; two favorite hiking spots are the Adirondack Mountains in New York and Glencoe in Scotland.

The Palmetto Trail begins in the mountains of Oconee County and ends at Awendaw on the Intracoastal Waterway. It is the state's longest hiking-biking trail and largest trail construction project, with 380 of the planned 500 miles completed to date. It is also one of only 16 cross-state trails in the country free, and open daily year-round, the trail was a boon to those seeking safe recreational opportunities during the pandemic lockdown. Both the trail and the corps are possible because of the power of partnerships with government, NGOs, corporations, businesses, academic institutions and individuals. PCF's educational programming and outdoor events support trail use. Activities include guided hikes, organized races, National Trails Day and National Public Lands Day events, and workshops, including the upcoming Women's Outdoor Adventure Workshop.

For more information, visit www.palmettoconservation.org.

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