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Dry Lake Hills Forest Thinning [video]

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

#IamACE – Patrick Council – USBR

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.

Patrick (left) and EPIC Director, Shane Barrow (next) with the USBR team

Patrick (left) and EPIC Director, Shane Barrow (next) with the USBR team

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.

Patrick (second to left) and USBR team at Glen Canyon.

Patrick (second to left) and USBR team at Glen Canyon.

 

 

#IamACE – EPIC Edition – Kyle Tibor [video]

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

#IamACE – EPIC Edition – Paige Lambert

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! 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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If you could give someone going into your position some words of advice what would you say?

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.

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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.

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#IamACE – Meet Kyia Foster

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! kyia3

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.

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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. kyia-2

#IamACE | Lauren Bernas

[ACE]: Can you tell me a little bit about your background?

[LB]: I was born and raised in Tucson, AZ and I stayed there for undergrad at the University of Arizona where I studied Biology and Marine Science. I just graduated in May of 2016 and moved to Sedona,AZ to enjoy the awesome hiking in my gap year before graduate school. The job I had set up in Sedona fell through and so I scrambled and find any job I could quickly, I ended up working in a hardware store in Sedona for a little bit. In the meantime I kept looking for other opportunities and quickly found ACE!

What got you interested in conservation? Can you think of a specific moment in your childhood that inspired this path?

My earliest conservation related memory is a “Donate Now to Save the Pandas” commercial presented by WWF. I was probably about 7 years old when I saw it on television and my little sister and I were horrified that the pandas could be in danger. We set up a lemonade stand in our neighborhood and mailed the couple dollars we made to WWF.

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Little Bear

I became really interested in marine science when I was a little older and a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium opened my eyes to the problems our oceans face. Ocean conservation is something I am really passionate about today and I am so glad I got to study it as part of my undergrad minor even living in the Arizona desert.

Can you tell me about one highlight and one challenged you faced so far?

The very first day of my first hitch I was in Yarnell, AZ. The rain seemed to be coming at us sideways all day due to extremely strong winds that were sending our hard hats flying and nearly knocking us over. During all of this we were benching out brand new trail on the side of a mountain. For a second I thought, what in the world did I sign up for? But then the next day the sun came out and I got to hear the story behind the trail we were making. It was being built in memory of the 19 hotshots who died while fighting a huge fire on the mountain a few years prior. Being able to look down and see their memorial site, and think about all of their family and friends to whom this trail will mean so much made me so excited to keep working on it.

The food on hitch gets an A++ rating in my book and is honestly a big highlight. My family doesn’t like to cook when we camp, we stick to a strict diet of hot dogs on a stick and cliff bars, so I get so psyched about the awesome meals we cook on hitch!

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Little Bear

Where are you hoping that this experience leads you in the future?

Being a part of ACE, surrounded by so many like minded people who care about helping conserve our environment just as much as I do is an awesome feeling. Often it seems like so few people care about what happens to our planet so it is refreshing to work with lots of people who actively care enough to do something like volunteer in this corps. After ACE I want to go for my Masters in Sustainability, I am interested in outreach and education, specifically how to get sustainable habits to be common place in the average household. Although I am still relatively new to ACE I have already learned so much. It’s one thing to talk and learn about conservation tactics and another to go out and put them into action. ACE makes me so appreciative of all the people who have come before me and done the hard work it takes to help conserve our beautiful outdoors. I am so grateful for the opportunity to help as much as I can!

#IamACE | Dania Jordan

Cultural Resources Diversity Internship Program intern Dania Jordan.

[ACE]: What do you do here in your EPIC internship?

[DJ]: I am an intern for the Northeast Region Park Service’s History Program. The Park Service partnered with Groundwork Lawrence to begin a pilot program called Urban Archaeology Corps for high school students in Lawrence, MA. Therefore, as part as my internship I provide “expertise” on archaeological processes and methodology as well as support Groundwork Lawrence in the historical aspect of their program.

Can you tell me about your background?

I received a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Sociology at the University of Nevada, Reno in 2015 and now I am attending UMass Boston to obtain a Master’s in Historical Archaeology.

How did you find out about ACE, and what attracted you to this position?

I found out about ACE by through google. I was looking for internships in “history,” I believe and the website came up so I began to browse at the potential internships that I potentially qualified for. The original internship I applied for was doing research on African American site associated with the Park Service in the Northeast Region, which I am still doing and developing a product that is accessible to the public. I was attracted to this internship because I am interested in African American experiences in the North (which has not been well documented). However, the internship came with a bonus that allowed me to also teach and mentor high school students in archaeological methods and processes. Thus, this internship has allowed me to engage in all my interests as well as give back to the youth.

Can you tell me a highlight and a challenge that you’ve had so far during your internship?

Highlight: being able to teach the youth about archaeological processes and methods, why archaeologists do what they do, and why archaeology is important, and them being receptive to the information I am providing to them.

Challenge: Creating outlines for the activities that include the objectives of the activity and teaching the students about archaeological methods and processes. I find it quite difficult sometimes to write and present in a way that high school students can understand the content.

Any goals for when you complete your internship?

Yes, I plan to continue to work on my Master’s degree and the Park Service has hired me on for another project. In the fall I will be working with the Northeast Museum Services Center on rehousing and analyzing the Abiel Smith School archaeological collection. I also hope to continue my education and get my PhD in historical archaeology as well.

Do you have any advice you’d give to someone looking to join EPIC or get into this field?

For whatever internship you plan to apply for make sure you have passion for it and express that passion during your interview process. Your resume may be able to list your achievements and experiences, but that means nothing when you cannot share your passion for a field and person can see and hear your enthusiasm.

#IamACE | Ryan Scott Gillespie

[ACE]: What is your background? Where are you from?

[RG]: I’m from Minnesota. I moved to Arizona in 2009 to study environmental studies with an emphasis in natural history and ecology at Prescott College.

What made you want to get into the field of conservation?

I think I’ve known since a relatively early age that I wanted to be involved in conservation. I’ve always loved the outdoors. I had some experiences when I was a teenager that helped to inspire me; some canoe trips in Northern Minnesota specifically. It was outdoor experiences like that which made me want to get involved.

How did you find out about ACE?

I actually ran into an ACE crew college field course while they were doing some aquatic weed removal at Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, and so I found out about the program by talking to them.

Can you tell me about one highlight and one challenge that you’ve had during the internship?

Well this past week, we set up wildlife cameras as part of the joint wildlife study we are doing with the other EPIC interns at Saguaro National Park. We just pulled all those cameras in the last few weeks and I got to sift through the photos. We saw hundreds of jackrabbits and cottontails and pocket mice, but yesterday I found a photo of a kit fox, and grey foxes, and the back end of a bobcat! It’s really cool. I’ve been out here for four months and you don’t necessarily see too much wildlife during the day when you’re out here, but it’s cool to be reminded that there really is so much abundant life in this area, it’s just hidden.

What do you feel sets ACE apart from other organizations?

I’ve done a few other internships that were similar in some ways. I think that I’ve had really good experiences with everyone from ACE, there’s been very little confusion when interacting with them. The staff seems really supportive and organized, which has definitely not been my experience with some other internships.

What are your goals after this position ends?

Well I wanted to get some experience with land management organizations through this internship to see if that’s really what I’m interested in, and I have determined that it is. I’m really hoping to continue my path in conservation in the science and wildlife areas. I’m especially interested in a plant BioTech position.

Do you think this position has helped you prepare to pursue that career path?

Yes, definitely. I didn’t have any experience with this sort of work before, especially not in a government setting. It’s also been really helpful to get to work alongside BLM staff, being able to get to know them and hearing about how they got started in their positions, and what their day-to-day tasks look like.

#IamACE | Rachel Stewart

ACE Cultural Resources Diversity Internship Program (CRDIP) Intern Rachel Stewart

[ACE]: Tell us about your CRDIP internship.

I am an intern at Dry Tortugas National Park, about 70 miles off the coast of Key West. I have been working with other interns to find and capture lionfish in the park. I am also working a little with the Submerged Resources Center of the National Park Service to locate and map a shipwreck in the park.

Can you tell me about your background?

I was born and raised in Nashville, TN. I grew up loving the water, so it only seemed right I start SCUBA diving. Through diving, I have been exposed to many new opportunities, one of which is underwater archaeology. I am currently a junior at Tennessee Technological University studying civil engineering with a concentration in the environment and water resources.

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How did you find out about ACE, and what attracted you to this position?

I found out about ACE through my participation in Youth Diving With a Purpose (YDWP), a program that teaches the basics of underwater archaeology. The Submerged Resources center offered diving internships to three participants in parks throughout the country. I knew this position at Dry Tortugas would be an amazing once in a lifetime experience.

Can you tell me a highlight and a challenge that you’ve had so far during your internship?

The most obvious highlight of my internship is the diving. It is amazing! I’ve never had the chance to dive as often at gorgeous sites like those in the park. The main challenge I have had during my internship is adjusting to the lifestyle at the park so far away from the conveniences I’m used to.

Any goals for when you complete your internship?

Upon completing the internship, I hope to have made a good impression at the park. I also hope to have helped in mapping a shipwreck and remove as many lionfish as possible.

Do you have any advice you’d give to someone looking to join EPIC or get into this field?

To anyone looking to join EPIC or get into this field, I would say be open to all opportunities. I have had many experiences that don’t necessarily match exactly what I want to do in my career, but through these experiences I have picked up varied skills that will help me in the future. I would also say be sure to make good first impressions with everyone you meet. Networking is really what has helped me the most.

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