North Carolina

Powering diversity in conservation work across the Great Trail State

It’s the Year of the Trail in North Carolina: the largest celebration of outdoor recreation in the state’s history and a program built to inspire people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities to get outdoors.

During May, and in recognition of the Year of the Trail, Lenovo is continuing its Work for Humankind initiative on a local level. Volunteers from Elizabeth City State – a historically Black university – will tour the Mountain to Sea Trail in a van that’s equipped with Lenovo’s cutting-edge technology. En route, they’ll engage with environmentally and culturally diverse sites, working to make them accessible to all outdoor enthusiasts.

Changing the face of conservation

The conservation movement has historically been dominated by a narrow group of people, creating barriers for individuals from diverse backgrounds. Diversity is a crucial part of conservation as it brings unique perspectives and experiences, ensuring equitable policies and programs reflect the values of society as a whole.

To help bridge the diversity gap, student volunteers from Elizabeth City State University will highlight their work along the Mountain-to-Sea Trail. This is North Carolina’s longest marked footpath, envisioned in the 1970s by Howard Lee – a former North Carolina senator and the first African American mayor of Chapel Hill. Lee recognized the need for a trail that would showcase the state’s natural beauty and cultural heritage. Today, the Mountain to Sea Trail is a popular destination for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, while remaining a testament to Lee’s vision.

Accessibility for the Trail

Powered by Lenovo technology, the Work For Humankind initiative aims to make the trail more accessible and reflective of the diverse communities along its path.

The first leg of the journey (from May 1st – May 5th) will extend from Jockey’s Ridge State Park to Cape Hatteras – an area that often sits in the path of destructive tropical storms and hurricanes. While here, the students will spend time collecting research for a feasibility study.

The second leg (from May 8th – May 12th) will see a new student group travel to Bladen and Pender counties. They will build a webpage to serve as a digital trailhead for outdoor and historical enthusiasts visiting the area. This section of the trail has significant ties to African-American heritage, including the Canetuck Community Center and the Gullah Geechee presence at Moore’s Creek National battlefield.

The final stop (from May 15th – May 19th) will be in the Western part of the state inside the Qualla Boundary, which marks the territory for the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians. In partnership with Motorola, the volunteers will develop an app in both English and the Cherokee native language. It will be available for hikers to download, providing them with information on key landmarks.