Biologist Karin Heiman, of Asheville, examines different species of flora while out in the field.

Who: Karin Heiman, 49

Residence: Asheville.

Family in WNC: Daughter Jasmine, 7.

Occupation: Consulting biologist. This entails environmental assessments, botanical surveys, conservation easement work such as documentation, monitoring and stewardship of conservation properties, wetland delineation, forestry, land-use planning, rare species search and survey, teaching short courses and lichen studies.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in environmental studies with botany concentration and minor in biology, Warren Wilson College.

Job description: “Every day is different,” Heiman said. “Work has included sitting on top of mountains, getting dropped off on islands I’ve never seen, wading through crocodile waters in the dark with only a small flashlight, working in the desert (looking for lichens for anti-cancer research), crawling through mud in swamps with their vibrant, lush growth, being stranded on foreign islands and jungles, identifying old-growth forests for protection and speaking on ‘Good Morning America.’

“It has also included being struck by lightning while hiking alone for a week near Rough Butt Bald. I went through the experience of dying and coming back, then had to hobble off the mountain.

“I’ve also been charged by a bear, stepped over poisonous snakes, etc. My work could be anywhere, but around WNC it has been all over Forest Service lands, Blue Ridge Parkway, Cherokee Reservation, private land, DOT roads and many other locations.

Salary range: $14,000 to $30,000.

Favorite part of job: “Just being outdoors; the beautiful views. Hopefully, I’m making at least a small difference. I can see places all over WNC where I have been involved.
“The conservation properties will hopefully be there as close to forever as we can get.
“I used to chair the Technical Advisory Committee for the Regional Air Quality agency in efforts to improve air quality.

“When I fly into the Asheville airport, I know I did the environmental work on the project that makes the runway safer. Having a hand in helping to protect the natural resources of our area is important to me.”

Least favorite parts of job: Lightning, dogs, bees, snakes, briers, poison ivy.

Favorite outdoor spot in WNC: On top of the Craggy Mountains.

More information: E-mail or visit or

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