Deirdre Apple was placed at the Red Canyon Visitor Center in Panguitch, UT as a Visitor Center Management Fellow. As an ACE EPIC Fellow, Deirdre was responsible for supporting the management of daily operations of the visitor center, including outreach, education, volunteer management, permitting, budgeting, staffing, and overall visitor services for over 130,000 guests. Upon successfully completing over 640 hours and her internship, Deirdre earned a USFS PLC Certificate. With this certificate, Deirdre was able to apply for her first merit-based federal position, and in December of 2018, Deirdre was hired on as a full-time, permanent USFS employee working out of the same Powell Ranger District office on the Dixie NF. Congratulations to Deirdre!
Leaders in Conservation – Johnny Mantchal
ACE’s Leaders in Conservation – Emily Merlo
ACE is proud to be partnering with LA Conservation Corps and Conservation Corps of Long Beach as part of the Southern California Conservation Corps Collaborative performing environmental restoration projects in the Angeles National Forest. Here is a sneak peek of some of the amazing corps members and crew working on this project. Full video to come! Stay tuned!
Meet Allison Powell. A corps member based out of our Mountain West branch.
The past summer ACE Arizona partnered with the City of Flagstaff, the US Forest Service, the Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project and the National Forest Foundation to complete an 18-week forest thinning project in the Coconino National Forest, in the Dry Lakes Hill Region. This area has not had previous fuels management, leaving it at high risk for future catastrophic wildfires and post-fire flood impacts. ACE is proud to share this video as a representation of the great work being done within our local community to help keep the city of Flagstaff a safe and healthy place to live and the wonderful collaborative efforts of our partners.
Thank you to our amazing partners who contributed to the making of this video
Tell us a little about yourself
I am a recent Electrical Engineering graduate from the Colorado School of Mines where I graduated “Magna Cum Laude”. I won third place in the Senior Design Trade fair, and won third place in the Crutches for Africa wheelchair design competition for Mines. When Im not working or studying, I spend some time playing video games that require critical thinking, creative design, and incorporate engineering into the game. The other portion of my free time is spent designing solutions for the home, building circuits or woodwork, composing music, game programming, and playing the violin with my wife. I am currently working on my Master’s of Science in Electrical Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines.
When you started in your position was it what you expected?
I came to intern with the Bureau of Reclamation expecting to do power system analysis like we have been doing in our classes, but I was quickly taken in to do more hands-on tasks that I was not necessarily expecting to do given what I have learned in college. I quickly became familiar with the Machine Condition Monitor cabinet which was designed to take in and record real-time hydroelectric generator vibration and shaft displacement.
What were some other duties that you took on in your internship?
In addition to vibration monitoring, the cabinet recorded its power output, voltages, current output, and much more familiar electrical properties. These cabinets I have been building are shipped to hydropower plants around the Western United States to provide operators necessary information about the operation of their generators to prevent excess vibration that causes mechanical stresses on components holding the generator and turbine in place during operation. The 2009 Sayano–Shushenskaya power station accident is the main reason the Bureau of Reclamation started monitoring vibration to prevent catastrophic failures of hydroelectric generators.
Beyond assembly of these cabinets, I have had the opportunity to go to hydropower plants to witness these cabinets in action. I have helped upgrade existing cabinets and helped General Electric connect to Reclamation’s cabinets to collect data. Some upgrades to the cabinets included replacing input cards with custom input cards designed by Reclamation’s Electrical Engineers. One of my tasks was to solder components on these boards and test them. I learned how to surface mount components on a printed circuit board.
How have your responsibilities grown as you developed your skillset?
Closer to the end of my internship I have been given the task to help update and redesign an accelerometer driver to monitor vibration inside the air housing of generators. This involved using what I have learned in college and resulted in being a great learning experience. During prototyping, I have learned that the world of operational amplifiers is beyond anything they could teach in undergraduate studies. Experimentation led us to a better design. I designed a printed circuit board layout for the first time after the design was finalized which is in the processed of being reviewed before being mass produced. The accelerometer driver design also led me to finding and recommending less expensive accelerometers to be used to help save Reclamation on their project costs.
What are you proud of with your work and what are you looking forward to?
The final stretch of my internship will involve soldering components onto the printed circuit board I designed, finishing up two more cabinets, testing the new accelerometer that I found, and going to another power plant to implement the accelerometer driver and accelerometers for permanent installation and data collection. This internship has been very involved and it has taught me that electrical engineers do much more than what we are taught in the class room. In the end, I am proud of my work because I know it has an important place in the power industry.
Meet Angel Andrade. A corps member based out of our Flagstaff, AZ branch.
Meet Kelly Waldron. A corps member based out of our Asheville, NC branch.
Meet EPIC Intern, Kyle Tibor. Kyle has been interning out of Pinnacles National Park’s Condor Program. Pinnacles National Park joined the California Condor Recovery Program as a release and management site in 2003. The park currently co-manages 86 wild condors in central California with Ventana Wildlife Society. Thank you to our partners at Pinnacles for allowing us to see the amazing work you are doing with these majestic creatures. Pinnacles is located east of the Salinas Valley in Central California. For more information on Pinnacles Condor Program go to: https://www.nps.gov/pinn/learn/nature/condors.htm
We took a trip down to Saguaro National Park to visit Epic Intern Paige Lambert who has been with ACE since June of last year. Paige let us tag along for a border impact survey where she shared her ACE experience with us. Thanks Paige!
Can you tell me a little bit about your background? (Where are you from? What did you study? What got you interested in ACE?)
I am originally from Houston, Texas, and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2016 with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science. My degree required extensive fieldwork experience, which enabled and inspired me to find a job working as a biological science technician after graduation. The dream was to work for the National Park Service, as visiting and exploring different National Parks is one of my favorite hobbies. During my job search, I found that ACE offered internships with NPS for recent graduates like me. I applied for a job with the resource management division at Saguaro National Park, and when they offered me the position, I didn’t need much convincing to accept it.
How did you find about ACE and can you tell me about your transition from being in college to being an EPIC intern?
I found ACE simply by Googling conservation jobs. Three weeks after I graduated from school, I packed up my car and drove across the southwest to move to my new home in Tucson. I remember being worried about if I would succeed at my new job, and if college had truly prepared me for the “real world”. My supervisors and crew leads ended up being great mentors to help me navigate through this transitional time; they expected me to put forth my best effort, but were patient and understanding while I figured things out. Over time, I built my confidence and I gained independence and initiative.
What is a typical day like for you?
There truly is no typical day at my job. The only consistent aspect of my time with ACE has been starting every morning with a gorgeous sunrise as I lace up my boots for a day in the field. My days have varied anywhere from scorching hot afternoons mapping invasive grass species, to freezing mornings searching for tracks and spotting deer with binoculars, to meeting with park visitors and volunteers to educate them about resource management. The variety keeps me on my toes so that I am always challenged to do something new and never grow complacent.
What has been a highlight for you?
A valuable highlight in this internship has been connecting with like-minded people who share similar goals and values that I hold. The people that I work with have also chosen to make a commitment to preserving and protecting our country’s resources, and working with them every day brings a new sense of hope and appreciation to the cause. A spirit of camaraderie in the field is oftentimes what makes the difference between a positive, constructive field day and a frustrated, aggravated field day.
What has been the most challenging part of being an EPIC intern?
To be completely honest, this lifestyle is not cozy and not for everyone. It takes mental grit, physical endurance, and a creatively frugal mindset to make it work. In the most challenging moments, it can be hard to remember the importance of the work that you are doing, and the impact that you are making. It is crucial to be able to keep the long-term goal in mind, and reflect on what truly matters at the end of the day.
Strive for excellence and self-improvement every day, even in small matters. As an ACE intern, you will be exposed to new territory that can seem intimidating, but face it head on with confidence and you will take away a brand new skill set. You have an opportunity to gain mentors who are leaders and trail blazers in their field, so don’t let a chance to learn from them pass you by. Most importantly, always be a team player- encourage your teammates, and only compete against yourself. Everyone knows something that you don’t know, so be open to learning from anyone you meet.
Where do you see this position taking you in the future?
This position has given me a fresh conviction that I am able to contribute valuable and meaningful work towards a worthy cause. It has reaffirmed my mission to build a career in environmental protection and conservation, and has provided me with a solid foundation to work from. My path in this mission is still undefined: I may continue to pursue resource management, I might go to school for environmental law, or I may enter the non-profit sector. Whatever path I take, I know that my time with ACE has served as my conservation trail-head.
We had a few minutes to catch up with Corps Member, Kyia Foster this past fall as she was volunteering at the Grand Canyon. Like all of our amazing corps members, Kyia was very busy working on a trail. We were happy she had a moment to take a break and tell us a little about herself and her experience with ACE. Thanks Kyia!
Can you tell me a little bit about your background and what drew you to the world of environmental conservation?
I was born in Illinois, raised in Georgia. I had no knowledge of the outdoors until I came to college and I worked at an outdoor recreation center doing trips, rentals, and a rock-wall challenge course. From there, I was a part of the Outdoor Recreation Conference and they send out emails about all outdoor jobs and everything like that and I got something through them about ACE. I graduated in December and I was just working and I really wanted to see if ACE and conservation work was a path I wanted to pursue for the future. I studied Health Care Administration so this has been pretty different for me.
What has been a challenge and a highlight for you?
For me, the most challenging thing is hiking. I know I am a slow hiker but I like to keep up with everyone else but they have a naturally fast pace and I do not. I like to coast, we’ll say. The work is good, it brings me back to my working days. It’s different every time we go out. The highlight for me is the view and getting to know more people so when we go back to off days I actually know who these people are and were able to hang out if we want to. And that we can go wherever we want to on our off days. As far as the work goes, it’s very just rewarding in itself.
Where are you hoping that this position with ACE leads you in future?
Already, I know that I should get on USA Jobs and if I do want to do outdoor recreation type of work, I should possibly serve another AmeriCorps term or something similar, perhaps at a park or even with the National Parks Service. I’m thinking about the National Parks Service but that’s probably because all of the hitches that I have been on have been in the Grand Canyon so that’s the only thing I have been involved with. So far that’s what I’m thinking but I don’t know for certain.
What sets ACE apart from other positions you have had in the past?
I do think that it’s good that you get that taste of different things when you go on hitches because you are able to network and speak with the project partners or the crew leaders and get a feel of how they got to where they are. I like to ask the people I work with how they got to where they are which gives me more ideas about where I want to go. And I think the variety is great.