Highlands Biological Station is open to visitors. Masks are still required in the Nature Center, but are no longer required on campus, including the Botanical Garden. Highlands Biological Station is offering academic and public programming this summer. For the safety of the HBS summer community, before being permitted to work or study at HBS prospective summer students, teaching faculty, and researchers must provide documentation of (1) having received a Covid-19 vaccine or (2) a negative Covid-19 test taken within 3 days of planned arrival.

Contact Us


265 North 6th St.
Highlands, NC 28741


Monday-Friday 8:00am-5:00pm



P.O. Box 580
Highlands, NC 28741


Monday-Friday 9:00am-5:00pm


265 North 6th St.
Highlands, NC 28741


Open 7 days a week from dawn to dusk

Nature Center

930 Horse Cove Rd.
Highlands, NC 28741


Fall hours: Wednesday – Saturday 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

(Reservations suggested for large groups. Click HERE)


265 North 6th St.
Highlands, NC 28741


Programs offered September-May

Highlands Biological Station Staff


Dr. James Costa
Executive Director
828.787.1712 | costa@wcu.edu

Dr. Costa has been a professor of Biology at WCU since 1996 and Executive Director of HBS since 2006.  He has a dual BS in Biology and Philosophy from SUNY-Cortland, and he holds an MS and PhD in population genetics/entomology from UGA.  He teaches biogeography, ecology, and evolution, and his research and writing interests range from insect ecology and behavior to Darwin, Wallace, and the history of evolutionary thought.

Ask me about HBS’ organizational plans and partnerships, grant/fundraising efforts, and research opportunities.

Jason Love
Associate Director
828.787.2820 | jlove@wcu.edu

Jason had extensive experience working in a variety of ecological research facilities before becoming the Associate Director at HBS. He has a BS in Forest Resources from UGA and a MS in Wildlife and Fisheries Management from West Virginia University.

Ask me about lab/research management, grant efforts, bringing your class to HBS, and anything to do with day-to-day operations.

Patrick Brannon
Educational Outreach Coordinator
828.526.4123 | pbrannon@wcu.edu

Patrick joined the HBS staff in 2003, and has worked in other environmental education organizations before that. Patrick has a BA in Biology from UNC-Asheville, and a MS in Ecology from Appalachian State University.

Ask me about our outreach program, including scheduling and delivery!

Katie Cooke
Business Officer
828.526.2602 | kfcooke@wcu.edu

After graduating with her BS in Business Management from Winthrop University, Katie worked for the University of North Georgia as a study abroad advisor. She has been the business officer since 2016.

Ask me about HBS’ fiscal operations, HR, purchasing, and questions regarding college class credit.

David Ford
Program Assistant
828.526.2602 | wford@wcu.edu

David has worked in several STEAM-focused educational non-profits including zoos and museums. He has a BS in Biology (conc. in Ecology and Evolution) from WCU and a MS – Biology (conc. in Biology Education) from East TN State University.

Ask me about making housing/equipment reservations, social media, or general HBS inquiries.

Rachel Martin
828.526.0188 | rmartin@wcu.edu

Rachel holds a BS in Horticulture Science from NC State, and has worked in public gardens and arboreta before starting at HBS in 2020.

Ask me about anything Garden-related, including the herbarium, special programs/tours, and volunteering.

Mike McMahan
Maintenance Supervisor
828.526.0188 | mrmcmahan@wcu.edu

Prior to joining HBS in 2015, Mike had experience managing his own small business as well as in heating and cooling.

Ask me about property maintenance/repairs and any on-site installations/construction projects.

Dr. Rada Petric
Field Site Director

Dr. Petric got her BS and MS in Biology from UNC – Greensboro before completing her PhD in Environmental Health Science from UNC – Greensboro. She loved the school so much she completed a post-doctoral fellowship before starting at HBS.

Ask me about the Institute for the Environment, including mentoring opportunities and general inquiries, or about my bat research.

Highlands Biological Foundation Staff

Charlotte Muir
Executive Director
828.526.2221 | charlotte@highlandsbiological.org

Charlotte joined the Foundation team in 2017, and has a background in non-profits spanning from arts to educational organizations. She attended undergrad at Ole Miss where she majored in Spanish, and then got a Master’s in Arts Administration from the University of New Orleans.

Ask me about the long-term goals for the Foundation and fundraising opportunities related to HBS.

Paige Engelbrektsson
Education Specialist
828.526.2623 | paige@highlandsbiological.org

Paige holds a BS – Biology from the College of William and Mary and a MS – Environmental Education from Southern Oregon University. She has worked for several nature-related non-profits, including a stint as an AmeriCorp member at Highlands.

Ask me about the Nature Center programming and visits, and general information about our summer camp or on-site programming and field trips.

Winter Gary
Communications and Events Coordinator  
828.526.2221 | winter@highlandsbiological.org

Winter first experienced the Station as a student with the Institute for the Environment in 2017. She holds BS degrees in Environmental Science and Psychology from UNC Chapel Hill. She has been working with the Foundation since August 2019.

Ask me about reservations for Foundation events (including summer camp!), social media and printed communication, and fundraising.