Ernie Averett of Oxford – President
Mr. Averett has been a long-term supporter of land conservation throughout the Upper Tar Basin. This dedication led him to be named the 2010 Land Conservationist of the Year at the 48th Annual Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards Banquet. He has earned many other awards and recognitions including North Carolina’s Outstanding Volunteer of Granville County from Governor Perdue in 2010, The Hugh Hammond Bennett State Conservation Award from the North Carolina Society of Soil Conservationists in 2008, Area IV Soil and Conservation Farmer of the Year in 2001, and Oxford Jaycee’s Distinguished Service Award for Outstanding Farmer in 1996. The commitment that Mr. Averett demonstrates toward land conservation stems being a part of the eight generations of his family who have grown tobacco and timber on their family farm, own as Flatwood Farm, located in Granville County. Mr. Averett has also served the community in many other ways. After receiving degrees from Louisburg College, East Carolina University, and North Carolina State University, Mr. Averett taught Biology and Chemistry courses part-time at Kerr Vance Academy in Henderson. He also served as a Granville County Commissioner from 1998-2000.
Carl Pike of Oxford – Vice President
Mr. Pike was born in Louisburg, NC, and spent his first five years living in Chapel Hill while his father finished law school at UNC. Upon his father’s graduation, the family moved to Oxford where is father began his law career. Mr. Pike attended school in Oxford graduating from JF Webb High School in 1989. In 1994, Mr. Pike graduated from UNC-Wilmington with a BS degree in Finance and moved back to Oxford with his wife Jill Pike. He worked as a realtor with Adcock ERA Realty for ten years before opening his own real estate firm, Triangle North Realty, which he and his wife still own and operate. Mr. Pike has always enjoyed small town rural life in Granville County where he can pursue his love of hunting and fishing. He can also be found at the coast on Harkers Island doing much of the same. Mr. and Mrs. Pike have two daughters and currently live in the home in which Mr. Pike grew up on College Street in Oxford.
Loretta Lautzenheiser of Tarboro – Secretary-Treasurer
Ms. Lautzenheiser serves on the Tar River Land Conservancy board of directors because she “loves the outdoors, loves the earth and wants it to be sure it’s there for her two grandkids.” Ms. Lautzenheiser holds degrees from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. In 1988 she established Coastal Carolina Research, Inc., a consulting firm in Tarboro specializing in archeological research and historic preservation projects. Her background as an archeologist has taught her to value what we learn from the earth’s systems and how we have adapted over time. During her career, Ms. Lautzenheiser received the Carraway Award of Merit by Preservation North Carolina and the Federal Highway Administration’s Environmental Excellence Award. She is also the past-president of the American Cultural Resources Association and served on the board of the Register of Professional Archaeologists. She enjoys spending time with her two children and especially spending time with her two grandsons.
Tim Bevacqua of Raleigh
Mr. Bevacqua is a Construction Superintendent with custom builder JVI Construction, following his retirement of 25 years with Progress Energy. During his Progress years, he worked in the Real Estate Department where he was responsible for managing the Corporation’s forestry and lake resources. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University with a B.S. in Vocational Education and an M.S in Adult and Community College Education. He is an avid woodworker, specializing in the colonial craft of Windsor chairmaking. He maintains close ties with NCSU instructing woodworking classes at the university’s Craft Center. He is strongly committed to land conservation and good stewardship of natural resources. He and his wife live in Raleigh. They have two teenage children.
Virginia Clay of Oxford
Ms. Clay grew up spending much of her time in Hall’s Drug Store, her parent’s business in downtown Oxford. In 1996, she returned to work in the store after completing a graduate degree in Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health. She worked and trained in nursing and pharmacy roles from 1989 until 2002. Since 2003 she has worked in the financial services industry. She is married to Donald T. Currin, also a native of Granville County. Together, they enjoy many outdoor activities including a homesteading project, hiking, hunting for game and wild flowers, and gardening. Virginia’s commitment to land conservation comes from her love of being in the outdoors and finding and preserving wild flowers.
Linda Fisher of Nashville
Ms. Fisher has a degree in History and Geography from East Carolina University. She taught for a while and then returned to farming, which was her first love. She has a GRP easement on her Fisher Farm property, and believes in land protection and education. She serves on the Nash County Farm Bureau Board, the Franklin County Cattleman’s Association Board, the Nash County Agricultural Advisory Board, the NC Forage and Grasslands Council, and the NC Cattlemen’s Association Board. In addition to raising cattle, Ms. Fisher grows pumpkins and gourds, and invites school children to her farm for an agricultural tour.
Gary Harris of Raleigh
Mr. Harris grew up on a farm in the Gray Rock community of Granville County, but now makes his home in Raleigh. He is a graduate of Atlantic Christian College (now Barton) with a degree in Business Administration. He worked for the tobacco industry for 22 years, including serving as the Chief Operating Officer for the Flue Cured Stabilization Corporation. Presently, he works in the investment business as the managing partner of H & M Financial Group, LLC in Raleigh. When he is not working, he contributes to his community through his service on other boards, at his church, and by coaching American Legion baseball. He also enjoys golf, hunting, reading and sports in general. He is married and has three sons. His interest in serving on the Board of Directors of the Conservancy stems from his love for the land and open spaces, and from his desire to create a legacy for present and future generations of North Carolinians.
Jesús Peralta of Henderson
Mr. Peralta is principal and owner of Peralta Consulting, a public affairs and public relations firm. Mr. Peralta has worked for two decades in corporate public affairs advising agricultural companies on a broad range of issues affecting the agricultural industry, including climate change, water resource protection and management, and the environmental impacts of agricultural operations. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Wake Forest University and a Master of Science in Public Health from Tulane University. Mr. Peralta completed a postgraduate fellowship with the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, DC. Prior to starting his consulting firm, he served for eight years as a public affairs manager advocating on behalf of agricultural chemical companies on environmental, transportation, security, energy, and international trade issues. Mr. Peralta currently resides in Henderson, Vance County, with his wife and three children.