catie hutchinson

Program director Catie Hutchinson - photo provided

Palmetto Conservation Corps officials named Catie Hutchinson as the organization’s new program director this week. She will travel throughout the state in her new role as she supervises work on the Palmetto Trail, a mountains-to-the-sea hiking and biking trail that passes directly through the Midlands.

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. Corps crews learn job skills, teamwork and leadership to safely build and maintain recreational trails using best construction practices for sustainability.

Hutchinson said the program director position felt like the perfect opportunity. "It’s letting me match my skill set to work in an area that I really love,” she 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.”

Hutchinson further touched on some new projects coming up. “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.

According to Hutchinson, she loves to hike and travel. She grew up living at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, and said 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. Two of her 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. The Palmetto Trail runs through the Midlands from Newberry County into Richland County with two passages in the Columbia area: the Capital City passage and the Fort Jackson passage. It is also one of only 16 cross-state trails in the country. The Palmetto Trail is free and open daily year-round.

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