By Camille S. Yates

The richness of nature was instilled in Ericka Berg at a young age. She grew up in Polk County, NC with seven other siblings. Her parents both worked full-time jobs, but on their off time they took their large family to the forests for escape and entertainment. “My parents loved the opportunity to use public lands,” says Ericka. “I have fond childhood memories of going to Pisgah, Chimney Rock, and Dupont Forest.” 

The exposure to natural environments as a child has led Ericka, as an adult, down both career and volunteer paths that involve environmental conservation and education. In 2015, she joined Conserving Carolina (formerly Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy) as an AmeriCorps member to help engage local communities and raise awareness about ecosystem conservation. Two years later, she became a staff member with Conserving Carolina and is now working as their Community Engagement Manager. In 2017 Ericka met Sara Landry,  who had been  hired as the first Executive Director for Friends of DuPont Forest. “Sara was starting to plan an event called The Forest Festival and was looking for volunteers,” says Ericka. “Because I have experience in managing volunteers, I became involved with Friends of Dupont Forest and organized volunteers to help at the festival.”

Ericka Berg

Ericka Berg

Board Member Spotlight

Now, Ericka serves as Board Vice President for Friends of DuPont Forest. “I want to see Friends of DuPont grow, and I want to help people learn how to be better stewards of the Forest,” says Ericka. She explains that Friends of DuPont was led by volunteers for close to 17 years, and hiring an executive director was an important step in ensuring that the organization would continue to grow and be successful.  

When asked about projects that Ericka would like to see accomplished in the near future she replies, “I’m excited about moving forward with our Share the Trails campaign. This involves education about the multi-use trail system as well as enlarging and creating multiple trail crews to work in the forest.” She would also like to see a formal Memorandum of Understanding developed between Friends of DuPont Forest and the State Forest Service. She explains that the organizational structure of the Forest has been evolving. “Initially, the State Forest Service had a very limited staff. As a result, Friends of DuPont accomplished most of the work building the trail systems in the Forest and also maintaining them.” The Forest Service has added additional staff, and Ericka thinks it would be beneficial to have a written plan outlining the partnership and division of roles between the Friends group and the Forest Service.

As far as long-term goals, Ericka would like to see a Master Trails Plan come to fruition. Friends of DuPont Forest has been working on getting funding for this project – a plan that would get feedback from the community and interested parties as to how they would envision improving the Forest trail system. Ericka would also like to see plans developed for the newly acquired parcels of land that have become a part of the Forest. 

Ericka enjoys finding ways for her work life and her volunteer life to overlap. She has led educational hikes in Dupont Forest for Conserving Carolina staff and volunteers. When she isn’t working or volunteering, Ericka likes to explore new trails. She backpacks and hikes and has about 60 more miles to go before she completes the Appalachian Trail section in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. In addition to hiking, she has become a trail runner and also a mountain biker. Other hobbies include whitewater kayaking and playing with Reiner, her eight- year-old rescue dog. 

DuPont State Recreational Forest has indeed played a large role in Ericka’s life. “I want to ensure that Dupont Forest continues to be a forest for everyone,” she says. “Having accessible public land is important to me.”