Lily Dancy-Jones — Environmental Educator of the Year 2019

The North Carolina Wildlife Federation has named LILY DANCY-JONES the 2019 Environmental Educator of the Year.  She will receive the Governor’s Conservation Achievement Award for her outstanding ongoing commitment to advance environmental education in the classroom and the public sphere in Buncombe County, North Carolina.

Using her college studies, undergraduate research, STEP internship and professional development programs, Lily has been working with students at Clyde A. Erwin High School in Asheville since 2013.  She teaches Biology, Biology Honors, AP Environmental Science, and Earth/Environmental Science classes.


In Spring 2016, Lily started a pollinator garden project at Erwin H.S.  She has acquired plants, organized workdays, and taught diverse groups of students about pollinator ecology.  She networks with organizations, such as Asheville GreenWorks and the NC Arboretum.

Lily has been inspired to reach rural populations in Asheville’s surrounding areas which serve schools such as Erwin.  She established and sponsored an Eco Club during her first year at Erwin.  Club members and AP science class students helped create the initial pollinator garden AND two additional ones!  Erwin is a certified Monarch Waystation, a Schoolyard Habitat with National Wildlife Federation, and a Pollinator Pitstop with NC Wildlife Federation.


During the 2016-2017 school year, Lily mentored a student who focused her senior project around pollinators.  Lily collaborated with an entomology professor at UNC-Asheville to plan and execute a lesson about butterfly life cycles.  These lessons were taught at the Erwin High School daycare.

Lily organized a station at the Buncombe County Schools “Celebrate STEM Event,” which is part of the NC Science Festival.  High school student volunteers assisted K-5 students in making bee hotels out of newspaper and toilet paper rolls.  She trained and monitored high school students and talked with parents.
In Fall 2016, Lily worked with a UNC-Asheville biology student to construct a permanent bee hotel as an entomology class project.  This included creating a garden sign to educate students and visitors about the importance of nesting sites for pollinators, such as mason bees.
Throughout the 2017-2018 school year, Lily worked with YES (Youth for Environmental Stewardship), which is a collective of high school environmental clubs in the Asheville area.  She chairs its Steering Committee.
In Spring 2019, Lily and her project received grant money for garden expansion.  Burt’s Bees, Buncombe County commissioners, and the Buncombe County Master Gardeners donated grant funding, with support from Asheville GreenWorks.
We hope to work with Lily and her students in the future.  We know they have more GREAT things to accomplish!

More Than 100 9-Year-Old Students Help Butterflies!

In early October, 2018, over 100 4th-grade students at Glen Arden Elementary in Arden, North Carolina, packed seeds for the Butterfly Highway, Mountain WILD! and the North Carolina Wildlife Federation.
Mountain WILD! then distributed the seeds to Asheville residents at two events ~ a Blue Sky concert at the Salvage Station and at Oktoberfest.
Lee Ann Smith, a member of Mountain WILD!’s leadership team and librarian at Glen Arden Elementary, coordinated the student seed packing.  She had recently arranged with Asheville GreenWorks for
an expert in butterfly migration from Mexico to come speak to the students.  Estela Romero lives in Angangueo, Mexico, close to the Monarch butterfly overwintering sanctuaries.  Estela serves as the local news reporter for Journey North and coordinates the Symbolic Migration program. 
Lee Ann said:  “So, this hands-on seed-packing event was a fantastic way for these students to continue their study of the Monarch migration patterns and to take an active role in helping The Butterfly Highway.  Thank you for this opportunity!”   She added:  “Here’s a great resource that I shared with the students during our seed-packing event:” Monarch Butterfly Migration: Google Earth Tour 
Mountain WILD! says “thank you” to Lee Ann Smith, the 4th-grade students, teachers and principal at Glen Arden Elementary.  We’ll be watching for butterflies in Asheville next summer!

Celebration of City of Asheville Community Wildlife Habitat Certification

Come celebrate with Mountain WILD! at The Salvage Station on Thursday, October 4, 2018 ~ 5:00 PM – 10:00 PM.

We will celebrate The City of Asheville’s Community Wildlife Habitat Certification by the National Wildlife Federation.  There are only seven NC cities and 195 cities in the USA to have earned this certification!

Mountain WILD! will hand out native wildflower seeds from The Butterfly Highway (NC Wildlife Federation) WHILE SUPPLIES LAST!

Doors open at 5:00 pm; opening music acts begin at 6:00 pm; GREENSKY BLUEGRASS concert is at 7:00 pm.

Tickets required!

Mountain WILD! worked with Freshman Seminar students at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, AB Tech students, businesses, community residents, schools and churches to certify 280 homes, seven schools, businesses, two churches, and 10 common spaces.

For more information, please see our BLOG post of September 3, 2018.

National Wildlife Federation (NWF) Certifies Asheville, NC as Wildlife-Friendly City

City of Asheville Becomes the 195thCertified Community Wildlife Habitat in the Nation by NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION (NWF)

 Asheville, NC – September 3, 2018 – Leading a nationwide trend in community concern for habitat loss, Asheville has been officially designated an NWF Community Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF).  The distinction for this city is the 195thcommunity in the country and the 7thcommunity in North Carolina to receive this honor.  Asheville is the largest of the three western NC cities to receive this certification.  A Community Wildlife Habitat project creates multiple habitat areas in backyards, schoolyards, corporate properties, community gardens, parkland and other spaces.

NWF commends the dedicated residents of Asheville and the Mountain WILD! team for their wildlife conservation efforts and for coming together for a common purpose – to create a community where people and wildlife can flourish.  At a time when communities are faced with problems of losing habitat to development, Asheville stands out as a model for other communities to emulate.

Mountain WILD! (MW!), the local chapter of  the NC Wildlife Federation, worked with Freshman Seminar students at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, businesses, community residents and schools to certify 280 homes, seven schools, and 10 common spaces for certification.  In addition, MW! special projects were accomplished.

Warren Wilson students cleaned a trail and riverbanks at Hominy Creek and Carrier Park in West Asheville.  MW! members and WNC Nature Center staff created a Songbird Garden, bird blind wall and backyard wildlife habitat display at the Center.  MW! assisted two Asheville churches with F.A.I.T.H. certification from the NC Wildlife Federation.

On multiple occasions, MW! members and friends worked with staff at the WNC Nature Center and at Deltec Homes to build nest boxes for NC Wildlife Resources Commission biodiversity projects with endangered Northern Flying Squirrels and Barn owls.


MW! joined with Wild Forests & Fauna, AB Tech, and Carolina Native Nursery to plant over 500 native species saplings on a major restoration site.


A presentation on creating wildlife-friendly habitats was held at the Kenilworth neighborhood.  Those residents were instrumental in Asheville achieving final certification points. Mountain WILD! donated common milkweed seeds to Kenilworth residents, and MW! hopes to collaborate on future neighborhood projects.

On August 28, 2018,  Gwen Wisler, Vice Mayor, read an official Proclamation at the Asheville City Council meeting.  The Proclamation recognized requirements and accomplishments for certification.  The City Council proclaimed September 2018  CERTIFIED COMMUNITY WILDLIFE HABITAT MONTH in Asheville!

Mountain WILD! is planning a future community celebration, as well as additional activities with Asheville neighborhoods.

NWF’s Certified Wildlife Habitat program has been helping people take personal action on behalf of wildlife for more than 40 years.  The program engages homeowners, businesses, schools, churches, parks and other institutions that want to make their communities wildlife-friendly.

The Community Wildlife Habitat project is part of NWF’s Garden for Wildlife program.  The projects benefit the entire community of plants, wildlife, and people through the creation of sustainable landscapes that require little or no pesticides, fertilizers, and excess watering.  These landscapes help keep water and air resources clean.  They are healthier for people and the environment and are less resource-dependent than conventional landscapes.  Habitat landscapes can serve to beautify our urban areas and give residents pride in their neighborhoods.

Since 1973, NWF has provided millions of people with the basic guidelines for making their landscapes more wildlife-friendly.  There are more than 200,000 certified habitats nationwide.  For more information, please go to:

 Mountain WILD!’s mission is to preserve and increase wildlife and wildlife habitat of the western North Carolina mountains through stewardship, education, conservation and restoration of natural resources. MW! is involved in helping wildlife by volunteering, educating our youth and aligning our energy with others working to make a difference in our local community.

  • Learn more at get more updates from the National Wildlife Federation at
  • Learn more about Mountain WILD! at:
  • Learn more about NC Wildlife Federation (The Butterfly Highway, F.A.I.T.H. and W.A.I.T. certification, Scholarships & Grants) at:

Biltmore Estate Receives 2014 Governor’s Award for Business Conservationist of the Year

Mountain WILD! nominated the Biltmore Estate for NC Wildlife Federation’s 52nd annual Governor’s Conservation Achievement Award as Business Conservationist of the Year – 2014.

In September 2015, the Biltmore Estate received this prestigious award as a model for corporate environmental excellence with its forest conservation work, solar energy, recycling and water conservation practices.

Highlights of Biltmore’s conservation efforts included: management of 5,000 acres of sustainable forest and sustainable agriculture practices; generation of its own renewable energy through installation of 7,000 solar panels; growth of 50 acres of canola and pressing the seed for human consumption and pre-biofuel testing; use of water-conserving and waterless plumbing fixtures and reuse of “gray water” to reduce the burden on the City of Asheville’s water supply; and recycling of plastic, glass, paper products, metal, cardboard, batteries and implementation of a cork recycling program at the Biltmore winery.

Kit Schmeiser, Mountain WILD!; Bill Alexander, Landscape & Forest Historian, The Biltmore Company; Steve Schmeiser, Past-President, Mountain WILD!

Flying Squirrel Box Building with Deltec Homes

Mountain WILD! (MW!) coordinated several nest box building days with DELTEC HOMES.  MW! members and Deltec Homes’ staff and friends constructed boxes for endangered Carolina northern flying squirrels using wood donated by Deltec.  The boxes were donated to the NC Wildlife Resources Commission for a flying squirrel research project.

Barn Owl Box Building with Deltec

Whoooo do you think built these Barn owl nesting boxes?  Members of Mountain WILD! and Deltec Homes’ staff and friends!  Deltec Homes donated wood for construction of these much-needed nesting boxes, as well as the use of their facility.  The sound of drills and hammers could be heard, and more than one person left wearing wood glue.

Mountain WILD! donated these Barn owl boxes to biodiversity biologists with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission.  The boxes will help Barn owls with loss of nesting habitat.

Stream Monitoring 2014

Stream Monitoring Information Exchange (SMIE)

The Stream Monitoring Information Exchange (SMIE) is a collaborative effort of several local non-profits and volunteers that actively monitor the health of local streams.  Currently managed by Haywood Waterways Association, SMIE conducts biological sampling.  By collecting “bugs,” we get a good picture of the health of our creeks over time.  This provides a more comprehensive picture than chemical monitoring, which only gives us a “snapshot” of the creek at the moment the sample is taken.  Chemical analysis is important, as well, and has been performed by other organizations for some time.


Hartwell Carson, Riverkeeper, Western NC Alliance

Hartwell Carson, Riverkeeper of the French Broad River, presented information to the Asheville community at a Mountain WILD! meeting.  He has worked to reduce sediment pollution and started and expanded bacteria, sediment, and coal ash monitoring programs.  He discussed the current state of the French Broad River and led a discussion about improving and caring for our Asheville watershed.

A special thank you to the Western NC Nature Center for hosting the event.







Barn Owl Boxes in the Field

Pictured below are NC Wildlife Resources Commission biologists Joe Tomcho and Chris Kelly mounting barn owl boxes built by Mountain Wild! volunteers.

We built and donated 30 saw-whet owl nest boxes and four barn owl boxes.  The saw-whet owl boxes will end up on the highest peaks in Southern Appalachia, while the barn owl boxes are going to Big Sandy Mush.  A big thank you to Sunrise Sawmill for their generous donation of ALL the lumber for our Saw-whet owl boxes!

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church of Asheville Receives F.A.I.T.H. Certification

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church of Asheville has received the “Fellowship Actions Impacting the Habitat,” or FAITH, certification from the North Carolina Wildlife Federation — June 2009

The FAITH program is a non-denominational initiative designed to recognize and certify places of worship that meet certain requirements for wildlife-friendly habitat.

“This program is designed to encourage ongoing stewardship of our wildlife and wild places in urban, suburban, and rural settings,” said Tim Gestwicki, Executive Director of NC Wildlife Federation.  “Direct hands-on projects are the key to fostering awareness and appreciation of our native flora and fauna.”

Mountain WILD! worked with the Rev. Patricia Mouer, rector, and parishioners at St. Luke’s to make habitat assessments and develop a long-term plan for providing wildlife habitat on two acres.  “St. Luke’s has a beautiful combination of wooded land, open space and a creek, which is a gift for us to care for and to share.  We hope that the FAITH project will help us be the best stewards of God’s creation that we can be, both here in Chunn’s Cove and beyond,” said Rev. Mouer.

Subsequently, church members created a butterfly garden, planting  native plants to attract pollinators.  They also reduced or eliminated the use of fertilizers on the grounds and removed debris from an existing ravine bordering the church cemetery.



In addition, an extensive invasive-species removal project was undertaken along the Ross Creek riparian habitat.  (Ross Creek is a tributary of Kenilworth Lake).  A FAITH team church leader coordinated multiple workdays for church members, Americorps volunteers, Warren Wilson students, and a community organization.  Invasive species included:  Multiflora roses, Japanese honeysuckle, Oriental bittersweet, Tree of Heaven trees.