Meet the Team: Land Conservation Operations Coordinator Laura Smith

February 20th, 2024

Get to know Upstate Forever's Land Conservation Operations Coordinator Laura Smith through a few rapid-fire questions.

Laura and Ellie at Falls Creek Falls (Mountain Rest, SC)Why is Upstate Forever's work important to you?
When I moved to the Upstate in 2012, I fell in love with both the small city of Greenville, and its proximity to parks, nature, mountains, and green spaces. As the area grows and development expands outwards, it's important to me that we protect that unique identity of Greenville and the Upstate.

What does a typical work day for a Land Conservation Operations Coordinator look like?
A lot of my day is spent in front of a computer, with my dog Ellie lying next to me (or even under my desk at the office). But sitting at a laptop is not a stranger to me. With a background in software development, I honed my skills in communication and process management. I now use that experience to help keep the Land Conservation team organized. My days vary but they may be spent contacting third party consultants about due diligence items, meeting with team members to discuss outstanding deliverables and upcoming funding deadlines, updating our Land Conservation & Management software, and anything else that can help our team run more efficiently.

What has been the most unexpected part of your role?
Coming from a different field, there's been so much to learn about the process of land conservation, land trusts, and conservation easements. And while I knew I had much to learn, I've been surprised by the breadth of all the work. I'm excited to become even more familiar with the world of land conservation and all of the different ways I could be involved.

Laura and Ellie at Acadia National Park (Maine)What do you love most about the Upstate?
Having grown up in a small city surrounded by nature, I love that Greenville and the Upstate have a similar feel. Depending on what I want to do, I could grab brunch downtown or hike to a waterfall. Or even do both in a single day! I love being outdoors (especially with my dogs) and having so many options at my fingertips is why I fell in love with the region. 

Where’s your ‘happy place?’
I have so many favorite spots in the Upstate! Conestee Nature Preserve, Paris Mountain, and Lake Jocassee are some of my favorite spots. Outside of the Upstate, one of my favorite places (and favorite national park) is Acadia National Park. My family has been visiting for almost 20 years and I absolutely love it.

Is there a motto, mantra or slogan that drives you?
I remember hearing the following quote when I was a kid (probably from my father who was a science teacher), and it's resonated with me ever since: "We only protect what we love, we only love what we understand, and we only understand what we are taught." – Jacques-Yves Cousteau

More about Laura

Laura Smith joined Upstate Forever in the fall of 2023 as the Land Conservation Operations Coordinator. Originally from West Virginia, Laura moved to the Upstate in 2012 to obtain her Masters in Professional Communication from Clemson University. After several years in software development as a production manager, Laura is excited to shift her work towards her love of nature. She now works with the Land Conservation Team to protect key lands and waterways in the Upstate through conservation easements.
In her free time, Laura enjoys spending time outdoors — hiking, camping, walking her dogs, playing disc golf, and gardening.

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