The ARC&D is now hiring for a new Executive Director.  For 25 years the ARC&D has united regional cooperation on environmental conservation and agricultural sustainability, and we are looking for the next leader to take our mission forward. Current Executive Director Emily Bidgood will be leaving the organization in June and moving with her family to Europe, where her spouse, Dr. Lee Bidgood, has accepted a year-long Fulbright Scholar research and teaching sabbatical.

Emily in 2013 meeting Quilt Trail owners, like Larry Thompson’s Farm, Chuckey

When Roy Settle was asked to hire a new AmeriCorps member in the office in 2012, he had worked as the Director of the ARC&D from 1994-2011, so you could say he knew the job pretty well. “Emily pulled into the parking lot and I could see her license plate was the Ag Tag–the plates whose proceeds go to grant funding for farm projects, which the RC&D had been awarded for many years. She did not know it at the time but she was hired before we even interviewed her,” he jokes.  Emily and Lee had just moved to Johnson City for Lee’s work at East TN State University, and Emily was looking for a career in sustainability and conservation after being an AmeriCorps at Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy.

The ARC&D was in a challenging position in 2012. After losing all Congressional appropriation funding in 2011, many RC&Ds across the county closed their doors. With the support of Roy Settle, Lynice Broyles, Mary Faulkner, and other Board Members and community volunteers, and the AmeriCorps VISTA program with Conservation Stewards, Emily was hired to serve as the sole person in the office working to maintain financial stability, partnerships, and plow a new row for the ARC&D to flourish.

“Those first two years were like fighting to breathe, even after our fundraiser event at the Embree House which demonstrated to me all the community support that was out there,” she says.

“Five years later, we are in an impressive position with talented staff and it is a great time for the organization to bring in a new dedicated and passionate leader”.

Under Emily’s leadership, the office has grown to include two full-time staff (Lexy Close, Farmer Services Coordinator; and Rachel Wheeler; Farm Fresh Appalachia Coordinator) and a full-time AmeriCorps VISTA (Amy Davis, ’17-’18), employed by the organization, along with several educators that are 1099 contractors for youth programs and for Firewise wildlife prevention.

Emily wrote and was awarded her first grant in 2013, to the tune of $3,000. In 2017, the grant contract portfolio was $1.5 Million, she says. (This number is not the organization’s budget, but the bottomline of grant contracts that were either held by, or awarded to, or closed by the ARC&D in this calendar year.)

“This is a testament to our staff working hard to not only pinpoint grant opportunities in line with our mission, but having the right community credibility to bring partnerships together to apply for and be awarded these grants.”

The Quilt Trail hosted the National Gathering conference of quilt trails from across the country in 2016 in Greeneville, because of our region’s excellence in coordinating a robust Trail.

The Field School beginning farmer program has had 60 graduates so far with several graduates pursuing farm businesses, and it arose out of 2 years of early morning monthly ag community breakfasts whose attendees continually spoke about the need for beginning farmer training.

“I am most proud of how we’ve continued the ARC&D grassroots mission to listen to community priorities. Today we are still uniting regional cooperation on environmental conservation and agricultural sustainability.”

The full announcement is below. Qualified candidates, all questions about position should be via email, no phone please. After reading the full announcement email your resumé and cover letter addressing how you meet the position requirements to our transition team via Emily Bidgood at

Executive Director – Now Hiring

Download full announcement: Executive Director Hiring ARC&D