The First Smith-Arabia Mountain Stewardship Intern

Brandon Brinkley, the first Smith Arabia Mountain Stewardship Intern

Honoring the impactful work of long-time volunteers Tom and Killian Smith, 2020 saw the first Smith Arabia Mountain Stewardship Intern, Brandon Brinkley! During his internship, Brandon worked on the two-week park management and conservation internship at Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve, completing projects that ranged from blazing the park boundary to working on trails. 

Tom and Killian Smith

Tom and Killian Smith, longtime volunteers at Arabia Mountain

For almost 20 years, Tom and Killian Smith donated their time, energy and knowledge to make the Nature Preserve a more welcoming place for all. Due in no small part to their efforts, Arabia Mountain has become a beloved jewel of the DeKalb County park system.

Tom and Killian Smith Stewardship Intern Program

The work they completed was enormous! Tom marked the park boundaries, built trails (along with another long-time volunteer and former Ranger, Tyrone Burkette), created and posted wayfinding signs, managed for erosion, made sure the trails stayed clear, and built stairs and bridges. Killian has been one of the main forces behind the popular geocaching program within the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, installed Little Free Libraries for book lovers of all ages, and aided numerous guests at the Nature Center with her vast knowledge of the park. When the couple announced that they planned to move to North Carolina to be closer to family, staff at the Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve and the Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance organized an internship to continue their work. The “Tom and Killian Smith Stewardship Interns Program” will continue their efforts of caring for this precious greenspace.

Our First Intern

Brandon at work on a trail marker

Brandon Brinkley, a former Arabia Mountain volunteer himself, was the first Smith-Arabia Mountain Stewardship Intern, working through the end of December 2019 and into early January 2020. Brandon repainted and added blazes to trails throughout the Nature Preserve and removed trees that obstructed views of the trail markers. “Over the course of this internship, I’ve probably walked every trail in the park three times,” he said. Brandon worked to clear brush from around the parking lot and various parts of the trail, as well as the often-flooded areas so hikers can walk without wet feet. “It’s kind of a warm feeling knowing I made a mark that’ll help the lost, as well make existing park-goers more confident on the trails.” Thank you, Brandon, for all of your work!

This isn’t the last time we will offer the opportunity to be a Smith-Arabia Mountain Stewardship Intern. Keep an eye out throughout the year for announcements about other internship opportunities.