To conserve natural resources and improve rural economies through community leadership and enhanced educational opportunities.

Meet the Team

Profile Image of Lexy Close, Project Director

Lexy Close, Program Director

Lexy is a native of Northeast Tennessee with a Masters of International Development and Social Change from Clark University. After 7 months WWOOFing in Europe, Close returned home to apply her passion for sustainability by improving rural economies through sustainable agriculture. In 2012, she co-founded the community organization “Build It Up East Tennessee” which was integrated into ARCD in 2015. Since inception, Build It Up has established three vibrant community gardens in low-income neighborhoods, and backyard gardening participants have harvested a grand total of 117,931 pounds of food. She came onto the ARCD team as the Local Food Promotion Coordinator and grew to be a regional expert on local food markets and products. Nowadays, she focuses on grant writing and is the Program Director for ARCD’s work with the Appalachian Producers Cooperative. So far, she has written successful grants totaling $2.5 million to support local agriculture programs.

Connect: 423-427-0549 / alexis@arcd.org

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Ashley Cavender, Program Director

A native to East Tennessee and an ETSU Alumni, Ashley Cavender is elated to get back to nonprofits and meaningful initiatives that focus on local food, community organizing, and education. She is inspired by grassroots agriculture movements, educational programming, and sustainable conservation efforts. As the Program Director for the Produce Incentive Programs, Ashley garners support and community connections to leverage access to healthy local foods in low-income communities. With over a decade of non-profit management, event organizing, fundraising, and volunteer management, Ashley is passionate about engaging and educating people from diverse backgrounds to grow and consume local healthy foods. Prior to this position, Cavender was employed by Visit Johnson City as their Event Coordinator and was Director of Meet the Mountains Festival. Before that she served as the Volunteer and Development Coordinator for One Acre Cafe, a community cafe. Her passion for local food and farmers markets blossomed while attending ETSU where she fell in love with the local agriculture community and ETSU Farmers Market. From there, she found her home in Jonesborough and served as the market manager for Jonesborough Locally Grown for a number of years. When she is not working or volunteering for various events in the region, you will find her on the Nolichucky River with her Jack Russel, Banjo. She enjoys cooking and trying new things. She loves being outdoors and traveling abroad any chance she gets, she most recently backpacked Vietnam for one month, solo. But Appalachia is her home through and through.

Connect: 423-427-0547 / ashley@arcd.org

Profile Image of Aubrey Baker, Community Relations and Advancement Director

Aubrey Baker, Operations & Finance Director

A native of Knoxville, TN, Aubrey is thrilled to have relocated to the beautiful Tri-Cities area in 2020. Inspired by the dedication to economic development and positive impact on physical health outcomes, Aubrey recently joined the team at Appalachian RC&D Council. As the Community Relations & Advancement Director, Aubrey garners support and industry advocacy to leverage philanthropic giving and create sustainable funding streams. With over a decade of program development and implementation experience, Aubrey is passionate about engaging communities with initiatives that increase access to lifelong learning opportunities. Her work has largely focused on cultivating strategic cross sector partnerships, maximizing resources to better serve the community. Most recently, Aubrey directed regional community relations and public programming for Kentucky Opera. In addition, Aubrey has taught in higher education as an adjunct professor with Roane State Community College and Tusculum University. A classical musician by training, Aubrey received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music and Master’s degree from the University of Kentucky. She also received a Project Management and Leadership Certificate 360 from eCornell. Outside of ARCD, Aubrey serves on the Children and Youth Vision Council with United Way of Greater Kingsport, and the Workforce Development Planning Team with ACC STRONG. She enjoys exploring the outdoors with her family, painting, and playing music.

Connect:  423-218-9251/ aubrey@arcd.org

Profile Image of Rosie McVeigh with white AmeriCorps logo on the lower right corner

Rosie McVeigh, Agriculture Education Director

Rosie joined ARCD in 2020 through the AmeriCorps program, and was then hired on directly to continue her work with Build It Up and Field School. She graduated from ETSU in December of 2019 where she studied Anthropology, Spanish, and Public Health. Before joining the ARCD, she worked for the Town of Jonesborough managing the Ardinna Woods Arboretum. Rosie was born and raised in Northeast Tennessee, and her family participated in many food co-ops during her childhood. Her family also utilized most of their property to grow all their own fruits and vegetables along with eggs. This self-sustained way of living inspired her to work in agricultural sustainability and food insecurity. She has a passion for learning new skills and growing as a professional and a person; she loves to travel and has been to 15 countries. Her goal is to visit all 7 continents and at least 100 countries.

Connect:  423-218-9759/ rosie@arcd.org

Profile Image of Rachel Armor, Project Director

Rachel Slaughter, Program Director

Rachel joined ARCD in 2023. She has worked on vegetable and flower farms in Tennessee since 2014. In 2018 she started Rain Crow Farm in Johnson City, TN with her partner. Together they grow a variety of vegetables and cut flowers. Along with an interest in agriculture Rachel is also passionate about education and has taught a variety of ages in many different settings, at Linden Waldorf School in Nashville, Seedkeepers Forest School in Johnson City, and fiber arts at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, NC. She loves textiles, from growing and raising fiber, to spinning, natural dyeing, weaving and knitting. Rachel’s passion for growing food, fiber and community is what brought her to ARCD, and she is honored to get to work towards building a more resilient and equitable local food economy. 

Connect: 423-218-2068/ slaughter@arcd.org

Profile Image of Rachel Armor, Project Director

Bethany Gray, Community Outreach Assistant

Bethany joined ARCD in April of 2024 as the Community Outreach Assistant, to work on Farmers Market initiatives and other local food access programs, as well as Build it Up beginning gardener training.  She is currently a second year participant in the Build it Up program! Bethany returned to East Tennessee after decades in Florida as a Historic Preservation manager and a Curator of art and history museums, most recently at the Deering Estate in Miami, Florida, a 440 acre preserve in the Miami Dade County Parks and Recreation system.  Her work there included maintaining historic structures, viewsheds and groves, restoring native habitats, and mitigating the effects of a changing climate on a coastal site.  She ultimately returned to Appalachia to be near family, and to pursue the good work of restorative agriculture, strengthening local food systems, and mutual aid. She is an avid backyard gardener, who enjoys camping, local history, and genealogy.

Connect: 423-524-8780/ bethany@arcd.org

Board of Directors

Roy Settle, Chair
Lynice Broyles, Vice-Chair
Linda Crouch-McCreadie
Heidi Davis
Wayne Davis
Dana Ensor
Lewis Haynie
Steve Mallory
Allyson Wilkinson

What Does “RC&D” Mean?

Resource Conservation & Development

The Appalachian Resource Conservation & Development Council is 501(c) (3) non-profit organization chartered in 1994. Our Board of Directors includes representation from across the region.

Our mission is to conserve natural resources and improve rural economies through community leadership and enhanced educational opportunities.

We work to preserve our heritage, promote local growers/producers and protect the lands of past generations so that future generations may be able to enjoy the natural wonders our region has to offer.


Farm Fresh Appalachia

Funded by an FMPP grant from the USDA, Farm Fresh Appalachia is a local cohort of organizations lead by ARCD with a goal of promoting and supporting local farmers markets.

Field School

Field School is a beginning farmer training program that is hosted by ARCD and Green Earth Connection, and is supported in large part by USDA and TDA in addition to many local organizations.

Build It Up East TN

Build It Up offers training, education, and resources for backyard gardening to families in Northeast Tennessee. The program has helped over 100 families learn to grow their own food, thereby mitigating the impact of food desserts.


ARCD’s work in conservation includes water quality restoration, land conservation, and wildfire risk mitigation. ARCD also facilitates Envirothon for Northeast Tennessee which teaches high school students about the environment.

Appalachian Quilt Trail

The Quilt Trail is a database of local barns that display a quilt block for the public to see and appreciate. The database is maintained by ARCD, but is not currently accepting new barns to be added to the trail.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits federally assigned programs from discriminating based on race, color or national origin. The Appalachian RC&D Council also requires that its services and programs be offered to all eligible persons regardless of race, color or national origin, age, gender, religion or sexual orientation.