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Love of outdoors helps in Carter's career

Robert Houk • Aug 11, 2019 at 7:00 AM

Kayla Carter grew up in Kingsport, where she attended Sullivan South High School. She is an alumna of Northeast State Community College and East Tennessee State University.

She worked as a reporter for several newspapers in Northeast Tennessee, including the Johnson City Press. After hiking the entire Appalachian Trail in 2014, she shifted careers and accepted a role with the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce as the tourism coordinator.

In 2017, she began her current role as outdoor development manager with the Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership. She is also a member and volunteer trail maintainer with the Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club, a Leave No Trace master educator, instructing trainer courses through the Nolichucky Outdoor Learning Institute, and helps organize the annual Meet the Mountains Festival.

Fast Facts

• Ideal getaway: A remote cabin in the woods with my dog and fiancé

• Favorite food: Macaroni and cheese

• Dog or cat: Both! Actually, all animals, great and small

HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE YOUR JOB?

I assist community leaders and bring partners together to identify and implement projects that will enhance the quality of life through outdoor recreation in our region.

More specifically, I serve as a resource for better understanding how our region can more effectively support, promote and invest in outdoor recreation as a form of economic development.

WHAT LED YOU TO THIS WORK?

There was no way I could have known in high school or college that outdoor development would be a career path for me. I have experience in newspaper journalism and tourism. I also thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2014.

All of these life experiences have set me up for success in this current role. I’m lucky that my choices in life have led me to this job. I’m also thankful that our organization invested in this role so that it could exist in the place that I call home.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE DAY?

Evenings when it cools off while the sun is setting.

WHO HAS HAD THE GREATEST INFLUENCE IN YOUR LIFE?

My father, who passed along his love of the outdoors to me

HOW DO YOU UNWIND?

Depends on my mood, so I have a myriad of things to turn to when I need to relax or reset my mind. Most recently, I’ve started trail running and hope to make more time for mountain biking again.

I also spend time playing ukulele, maintaining a 3-mile section of the Appalachian Trail and watching “Good Mythical Morning” with my fiancé, Noah, and our dog named Harper.

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