Ali Singleton Reilly Honored by E&H Alumni Association as Young Alumna of the Year

by Billy Chandler

Ali Singleton Reilly is the 2023 recipient of the A.L. Mitchell Young Alumnus Award. The award is given to someone who has made unique and outstanding accomplishments during the first 15 years after graduation. The award bears the name of A.L. Mitchell, E&H class of 1946, who began his employment at Emory & Henry while still a very young alumnus and served students faithfully for 38 years.

Ali Reilly is the program coordinator for Blue Ridge Discovery Center and she has recently overseen the restoration of a wetland area.

To explain that more fully – she has led a team and spearheaded the work that transformed a field that was most recently a “brownfield” (it had been a campground and a trailer park and was considered environmentally compromised), that was previously used for agriculture (grazed and farmed), but was initially a wetland. And, with the support of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, Ali has led a team that has turned this spot back into a wetland.

The fill dirt added many years ago was removed in order to get back to the original soil line – allowing water to once again exist there as intended by nature. She and a team of volunteers have planted hundreds of native plants that create a thriving wetland habitat. They’ve added a vernal pool. They’ve redirected drainage pipes that once pulled water away from its intended location. And while this seems like a project that should be 100 years in the making, Ali and her crew have done it in about two years.

This spot of land that was basically dead is now teaming with life. Birds, including shore birds, are now visiting this mountain-area wetland in Konnarock. Dragonflies are back. Insects are back. Frogs are back in numbers so large they can’t be counted. Salamanders are back. That wetland has been restored and the creatures who once depended on it for life are all back as if they had been sitting around waiting for this work to be done.

Wetlands provide an amazing service to the ecosystem by absorbing water after an excess of rainfall, filtering out contaminants, holding water when there’s not enough, and offering fertile ground for an amazing array of animals and plants. This restoration has benefitted more than fairy shrimp: it has made the planet a little stronger.

Ali also does a huge array education projects for the community to help people understand the importance of wetlands and the role of native plants in a successful, healthy ecosystem.

Ali is by no means through with the great things she’ll accomplish in her career and life – but this is certainly a project worth celebrating.

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  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/2037-andrew-mcclung-reporter-and-story-teller"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/765,40,1859,1134/10327_IMG_8505.rev.1632857131.webp 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/765,40,1859,1134/10327_IMG_8505.rev.1632857131.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/765,40,1859,1134/10327_IMG_8505.rev.1632857131.webp 3x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/765,40,1859,1134/10327_IMG_8505.rev.1632857131.jpg 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/765,40,1859,1134/10327_IMG_8505.rev.1632857131.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/765,40,1859,1134/10327_IMG_8505.rev.1632857131.jpg 3x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/765,40,1859,1134/10327_IMG_8505.rev.1632857131.jpg" alt="Andrew McClung Emory & Henry Class of 2019" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/765,40,1859,1134/10327_IMG_8505.rev.1632857131.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/765,40,1859,1134/10327_IMG_8505.rev.1632857131.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1094" data-max-h="1094" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/2037-andrew-mcclung-reporter-and-story-teller">Andrew McClung: Reporter and Story-Teller</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Andrew McClung is a reporter for WCYB-5 in Bristol, Virginia/Tennessee. But it might be more appropriate to say that Andrew is a story-teller.</span> <a href="/live/news/2037-andrew-mcclung-reporter-and-story-teller" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1273-brian-chandler-finding-strategies-for-business-during-t"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,81,531,612/8140_Brian_Chandler2019.rev.1588795040.webp 1x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,81,531,612/8140_Brian_Chandler2019.rev.1588795040.jpg 1x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,81,531,612/8140_Brian_Chandler2019.rev.1588795040.jpg" alt="Brian Chandler, E&H Class of 1997" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="531" data-max-h="531" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1273-brian-chandler-finding-strategies-for-business-during-t">Brian Chandler: Finding Strategies for Business During the Pandemic</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><p>Brian Chandler’s public relations firm is offering data-driven advice to companies.</p><a href="/live/news/1273-brian-chandler-finding-strategies-for-business-during-t" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/2379-chaz-jones-says-to-look-for-great-government-jobs"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/180,175,505,501/11578_FB_IMG_1656696118591.rev.1656699368.webp 1x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/180,175,505,501/11578_FB_IMG_1656696118591.rev.1656699368.jpg 1x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/180,175,505,501/11578_FB_IMG_1656696118591.rev.1656699368.jpg" alt="Chaz Jones Emory & Henry Class of 2016" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="325" data-max-h="326" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/2379-chaz-jones-says-to-look-for-great-government-jobs">Chaz Jones Says to Look for Great Government Jobs in SWVA/NETN</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><p> Chaz Jones says many young people overlook the opportunities for great government work that are right here in the region surrounding Emory & Henry.</p><a href="/live/news/2379-chaz-jones-says-to-look-for-great-government-jobs" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/782-mike-young-chosen-as-new-virginia-tech-basketball"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/290,0,1100,810/6262_Young_at_socon.rev.1554748993.webp 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/290,0,1100,810/6262_Young_at_socon.rev.1554748993.webp 2x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/290,0,1100,810/6262_Young_at_socon.rev.1554748993.jpg 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/290,0,1100,810/6262_Young_at_socon.rev.1554748993.jpg 2x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/290,0,1100,810/6262_Young_at_socon.rev.1554748993.jpg" alt="Mike Young (E&H '86) cutting down the net after his Wofford team won the 2019 SOCON championship." width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/290,0,1100,810/6262_Young_at_socon.rev.1554748993.jpg 2x" data-max-w="810" data-max-h="810" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/782-mike-young-chosen-as-new-virginia-tech-basketball">Mike Young Chosen as New Virginia Tech Basketball Coach</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Mike Young is a 1986 Emory & Henry graduate. <a href="/live/news/782-mike-young-chosen-as-new-virginia-tech-basketball" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/2382-rachel-edwards-is-a-professional-reader-for"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,43,958,1001/11564_IMG-0199.rev.1656364981.webp 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,43,958,1001/11564_IMG-0199.rev.1656364981.webp 2x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,43,958,1001/11564_IMG-0199.rev.1656364981.jpg 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,43,958,1001/11564_IMG-0199.rev.1656364981.jpg 2x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,43,958,1001/11564_IMG-0199.rev.1656364981.jpg" alt="Rachel Edwards Emory & Henry Class of 1999" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,43,958,1001/11564_IMG-0199.rev.1656364981.jpg 2x" data-max-w="958" data-max-h="958" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/2382-rachel-edwards-is-a-professional-reader-for">Rachel Edwards is a Professional Reader for Audible</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> At first, she thought it might be a scam; but it has turned out to be the opportunity of a lifetime. <a href="/live/news/2382-rachel-edwards-is-a-professional-reader-for" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>