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Pinnacles National Park hosts the Pinnacles Ranger Corps Program

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Not far from Hollister, California, ACE has partnered with Pinnacles National Park to host a “Ranger Corps” Program. The initiative started in 2009 and is one of the few of its kind. Pinnacles National Park currently has four Ranger Corps members, Elijah Valladarez, Alex Diaz, Conner Stephens and Ryan Robledo. All of the members are local youth (ages 18-25) who will complete 300 hours in the park over their weekends assisting park professionals and learning about the National Parks Service.

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“I like that I have been able to work in my community and this experience has taught me to really appreciate the area that I grew up in,” explained Alex Diaz, Soledad resident. The program runs on the weekends and aims to mentor the interns in different directions through working closely with the park’s rangers and other ACE members participating at Pinnacles.

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Elijah Valladaraz is studying criminal justice and explained, “since I am interested in law enforcement the park does its best to get me around the park’s security rangers.” Alex Diaz expressed a similar point, that he was focusing on botany in school and gets to go out and work with the park’s vegetation and restoration team.

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Conner Stephens and Ryan Robledo are both in their senior year of high school. Conner is hoping to study something along the lines of geology in college. “This position has improved my social skills but it has also taught me a lot about basic geology and plants and has improved my overall mood,” explained Conner, “the highlight for me is waking up each morning and being in a National Park and being able to work outside, whether that is assisting the vegetation and condor crews, or just helping park incoming visitors.”

Conner Stephens explains the difference between condors and turkey vultures to the park's visitors while working the nature center desk.

Conner Stephens explains the difference between condors and turkey vultures to the park’s visitors while working the nature center desk.

Paul Mondragon is a part time Park Ranger and runs the program in the park on the weekends. Paul expressed his dedication to the program and stated, “I like seeing the kids grow and become more comfortable talking with the people who come to visit the park.”  Paul has been working with the program for the last five years and works closely with the corps members.

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The Ranger Corps also provides CPR and first aid training in addition to the hands on experience of working in the National Park. The program aims to open doors for the local youth into the world of environmental stewardship.

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#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

Pinnacles National Park – Jawbone Canyon – EPIC Intern Team works on Vegetation and Restoration

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In Pinnacles National Park ACE currently has two EPIC interns working the with the park’s Vegetation and Restoration team. The park’s restoration team is lead by Park Ranger Mike Shelley with the  main objective to restore and protect native plant species and to maintain the landscape.

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Joshua Mosebach and Karina Garcia (ACE EPIC Interns) of the restoration team take part in native seed collecting, planting, monitoring and research. The internship is currently six weeks into a twenty-one week program in the park. “I’ve learned a lot about working in the federal government and the park service during the last few weeks,” explained Karina, “I didn’t know that the park conducts research and works with native american tribes.”  While Karina is still determining what path she would like to pursue, she explained that she has been able to explore a variety of different career paths within the National Parks Service during her time in the park.

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During the week of April 24th, 2017 the team was working in Jawbone Canyon on the west side of Pinnacles National Park. A new trail has been slated to go through the canyon and through a section of Italian thistle, an invasive species. It is crucial for the invasive plants to be removed from the trails, as  “the seeds will attach to hikers boots and pant legs and spread to other areas of the park,” Mike Shelley explained during his introduction to invasive species removal with a local Native American tribe.

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The park has been working with the Amah Mutsun Land Trust since 2009 on various local projects. The Amah Mutsun Land Trust group came out with the team to work on the removal of this area of Italian Thistle. There are two areas in the park that have cultural significance to the tribe because the areas contain deer grass and white root sage. These are plants that are used for weaving by the tribe. The park and tribe worked together to have the first prescribed burn of deer sage since the mission period.dsc_1246

#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 | 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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#IamACE | Elizabeth Creswell

Elizabeth Creswell, BLM Direct Hire Authority (DHA) Intern.

[ACE]: Please explain about your BLM DHA Internship.

[EC]: My role is to perform civil engineering design work for project at the Bakersfield Field Office for the BLM. Due to the recent fires there are road maintenance and drainage projects. Besides road work, other projects include a pedestrian bridge for a trail at a wetlands area, and campground design.

Can you tell me about your background?

My undergraduate degree and past internships are within architectural design. I grew up in Bakersfield and love outdoor activities such as camping and hiking. Recently I have worked for an engineering contractor within the energy sector, specifically oil and gas.

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

I was nearing the completion of my master’s degree in civil engineering, and wanted to find an internship that would allow me to start putting my new academic skills as a structural designer to use. Looking at local internships, the ACE-DHA internship really stood out as an interesting opportunity that would provide great experience, and lead to a career within BLM. Since I appreciate and enjoy wilderness areas, it was a good fit.

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

One highlight is how professional, kind and helpful the entire staff is at the Bakersfield Field office. They work very well together as a team, and management does an excellent job with keeping the office running smoothly.

A challenge is balancing out the wide variety of projects this internship offers. Since there are completely different focuses and objectives among the civil projects, it can be tricky switching gears and working on several of these at once. Good time management and organization is necessary.

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This is a rendering that I completed for a kiosk poster showing the original stamp mill at the Keyesville mine.

Any goals for when you complete your internship?

To have completing as many of these challenging projects as possible. To become familiar with the areas of land around this field office that is managed by BLM. To improve my design skills with roads and structures as an engineer.

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

Make sure that you enjoy the outdoors and different weather conditions. In engineering, this internship will provide you with very good experience getting to do a wide variety of projects. This is also a good opportunity to learn more about our federal government and understand the challenges that it faces on a daily basis.

#IamACE | Katherine Giraldo

Katherine Giraldo, Museum Curator’s Assistant at Boston National Historical Park

[ACE]: As a Cultural Resources Diversity Internship Program (CRDIP) intern, what is your role?

[KG]: I am the Museum Curator’s assistant at Boston National Historical Park. Along with conducting the annual inventory for museum objects, I help organize research appointments, help researchers find whatever they need during their appointment so they can use in their research projects, I help plan, set up and make signs for exhibits, as well as write articles about our museum collections for the park newsletter.

Can you tell me about your background?

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the University of Massachusetts Boston. My concentration was in Archaeology so I was able to attend a Field School in Central America during my time at the university. There, I was able to work on a few of about 50 Maya sites. The sites varied from small settlements to large cities that contained some really cool artifacts like obsidian blades, jewelry, etc. I also had the opportunity to work alongside a number of experienced Archaeologists from a variety of universities. Working on these sites gave me an insight into what it actually takes to find, analyze and preserve the materials needed to tell the history of humanity.

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

While I was doing some online research about graduate programs, I came across ACE and their CRDIP program. Having a background in Anthropology and Archaeology, I was immediately interested in their cultural resource internships. I was drawn because they offered great benefits; travelling and exploring new places, an opportunity to get my hand dirty in the field, and, most importantly, a chance to keep learning about a field that I am very passionate about.

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

There are many highlights during the time of my internship. I have enjoyed very much going through the museum collection while conducting the annual inventory. I have been able to see objects that date back to the American Revolution! The biggest highlight, however, is setting up an exhibit at the Bunker Hill Monument. I was able to be part of the culmination of three years of conservation work on “ The Adams” cannon, which is believed to be one of the British field pieces possessed by the British colonies at the outset of the American Revolution in April 1775. The cannon is now on display and it is very exciting to think that I helped put it there for thousands of people to see. One of the biggest challenges, however, is when I am tasked to find a museum object for the annual inventory, and it is nowhere to be found. It’s frustrating but you eventually realize that out of thousands of objects, some are bound to be misplaced.

Any goals for when you complete your internship?

After completing my internship, I will be starting my Master’s degree in Preservation Studies at Boston University. My main goal is to graduate and hopefully get employment through the National Park Service.

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

My advice to someone looking to join EPIC is not to be afraid and go for it! This program has taught me things that I never learned in a classroom. It gave me an insight into what it actually takes to work in cultural resource management, and, when I was having doubts about my professional life in Archaeology, it made my passion for the field even stronger. So if you’re a recent college graduate or emerging professional and are not sure what your degree in History, Archaeology, Biology, etc. will bring to your professional life, ACE, EPIC, and CRDIP will definitely help guide you. There has not been a day in which I don’t learn something new and valuable through this program.

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#IamACE | Bailey Bates

Bailey Bates, Direct Hire Authority (DHA) Range Management Specialist intern for the BLM in Farmington, NM.

[ACE]: Please explain your main duties as a DHA Intern.

[BB]: I am a range management specialist intern for the BLM in Farmington, NM. My main duties include collecting data for range trend monitoring and writing up Allotment Management Plans. I am also monitoring sagebrush treatments for both pre and post treatments.

Can you tell me about your background?

I am originally from Tohatchi, NM where I attended high school. For college I went to Mesalands Community College in Tucumcari, NM, and then transferred to New Mexico State University where I earned my bachelor’s degree in Range Science in May 2016. Growing up I had always loved being outdoors and which is where I’m usually at during my free time.

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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 college advisor while attending NMSU. What attracted me to this position is that it was pertaining to what I was getting my degree in. Also the location added a lot with being close to home in New Mexico.

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

The biggest highlight so far within this position is finishing my first Allotment Management Plan; it was the longest I had written up so far which included 11 different plots for the past six years. Another highlight was while out in the field one day driving to our next plot, two turkeys just walked right in front of us crossing the road. They did not care to run off once they seen us, I thought it was a pretty cool sight. One challenge that I do face on a regular basis is locating the plots, at times the GPS points will be off, or it had not been recorded in previous years. On one plot I remember we were utilizing a photo that was taken in 1994; the area had changed so much since then. Some plots we are able to find using photos and updated GPS points, while a few are still unable to be located.

Any goals for when you complete your internship?

I would love to start my career off with the BLM working in range. I am thankful that I had received this opportunity working with ACE to help me get starting working with the BLM. Over the past weeks I have learned so much working both out in the field and in the office. I look forward to extending that knowledge in years to come!

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

My advice would be if given the opportunity; TAKE IT! EPIC is a great organization, I am glad that I am able to get this experience learning more in my field. Not only will you extend your knowledge, but you get to have fun while doing so!

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#IamACE | Hema Lochan

Hema Lochan, Media and Curatorial Intern at the Zion Human History Museum in Zion National Park

[ACE]: What do you do here in your EPIC internship?
[HL]: I am a Media and Curatorial Intern at the Zion Human History Museum in Zion National Park! I’ve helped digitize the herbarium collection at the museum, I am working on updating the website, and creating finding aids for researchers! I’ve also been learning hands-on skills, such as how to handle and work with artifacts!

Can you tell me about your background?
I grew up in a very different place – New York City, so working in the national park has been a dream! I just graduated from Princeton University with a degree in Anthropology and a certificate in Environmental Studies.

How did you find out about ACE, and what attracted you to this position?
I’ve always wanted to with the NPS, and I love museums, so this became a perfect fit! I had never been to Utah before, and I always wanted to learn how the behind-the scenes of museums functioned! I’ve been learning all this and more while I’ve been here.

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Can you tell me a highlight and a challenge that you’ve had so far during your internship?
I’ll tell the challenge first – when I got here, I was surprised that there was not much on the native culture on the land and its history. There were a lot of visitors, but they were not really focused on learning about the tribes that were here before Zion became a National Park. But that leads into the highlight – I’ve been learning so much about it here at the museum and trying to share what I’ve learned with others. For example, Zion National Park was originally Mukuntuweap National Monument before it was renamed – its original name came from the tribes that lived in the canyon before other settlers called it home as well!

Any goals for when you complete your internship?
I’d love to see the new museum website updated with the new information and finding aids! I hope the hands-on experience I’ve learned here will help me in other museums and collections!

Do you have any advice you’d give to someone looking to join EPIC or get into this field?
DO IT! There is so much that goes behind the scenes in a museum – from inventory, to making sure artifacts aren’t damaged, to cataloging new accessions. You will never be bored because there is so much to learn and so much really interesting things to get involved in.

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ACE EPIC | Earth Connections Camp

ACE EPIC Interns based in Moab, UT recently supported a BLM-sponsored Earth Connections Camp in nearby Bluff, UT. The camp is designed to immerse Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) into Native Culture.

Range Management Intern Jacob Garcia served as point of contact for the ACE team, with ACE EPIC Interns Audrey Pefferman, Taylor Hohensee, and Robert Ford joining the team to assist the various resource professionals and camp staff. The ACE Interns’ primary role was to assist representatives from the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), and the Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) setting up and implementing various hydrology-related activities, and providing general support to ensure the event progressed as planned.

NRCS hydrologist Nathaniel Todea lines out his survey crew at Earth Connections Camp in Bluff, UT. Photo by BOR

The camp was a huge success, and feedback for ACE EPIC Interns was extremely positive. Jeanette Shackelford, the BLM-Utah Youth Program Lead, and Dr. Chuck Foster of the Utah State Board of Education, American Indian Education Specialist Title VII Programs, shared the following:

“On behalf of the rest of the Earth Connections Camp team, I want to tell you how much we appreciate the time and invaluable contributions the ACE interns provided to our American Indian science and culture camp last week. Jacob Garcia, Audrey Pefferman, Taylor Hohensee, and Robert Ford went above and beyond what was asked of them, and they were such a pleasure to work with. The agency instructors were very pleased with their work ethic and respectful, positive attitudes.”

“The Earth Connections Camp team continues to be impressed by the caliber of interns recruited by ACE, and ACE’s willingness to support our youth programs. Thank you to the [BLM] Field Office for loaning out the crew during this busy time of year. We look forward to working together on similar programs in the years to come.”

We thank the ACE EPIC Interns for all their hard work making the Earth Connections Camp a success, and positively promoting ACE’s willingness to support youth programs.

Earth Connections Bluff group photo. Bluff, UT. Photo by Bureau of Reclamation

Earth Connections Camp

Earth Connections Camp was launched in 2010 through a partnership between the Bureau of Land Management-Utah and the Utah State Board of Education Title VII Program. The idea is to provide a one-day natural science and cultural heritage camp for urban American Indian youth from the Salt Lake Valley, as well as southern Utah. In alignment with federal youth initiatives, the goal was to expose youth to meaningful outdoor learning experiences that emphasized a holistic curriculum of natural resource science-based activities, higher education and career paths, indigenous language, tribal history and art. American Indian educators and agency experts serve as instructors and mentors. The partnership includes the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Bureau of Reclamation, Urban Indian Center, the U.S. Forest Service, Utah school districts, American Conservation Experience, and Red Butte Garden, among many others. Earth Connections Camps benefit 50-60 youth participants ages K-12 each year. Click here to view a 2015 video produced by the Bureau of Reclamation:

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Flat-Tailed Horned Lizard Monitoring | BLM El Centro

ACE Emerging Professional Internship Corps (EPIC) Interns spent 10 weeks working with the Bureau of Land Management’s El Centro Field Office in Southern California surveying, monitoring, tagging, and collecting data on the Flat Tail Horned Lizards in the surrounding desert.

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Our interns’ work supports the Flat-Tailed Horned Lizard Range wide Management Strategy, which seeks to evaluate the conservation and management of lizard habitat to monitor their population.

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Over the course of their internship, EPIC interns captured, tagged, and monitored over 100 lizards.

#IamACE | Stephanie Emery

Today we launch a new blog series titled “I am ACE” (#IamACE), which aims to highlight the individual stories of ACE’s corps members and interns.

Our corps members and interns come from culturally diverse backgrounds across the United States and each has a unique story to tell. Common to all is the passion for our natural environment, and a desire to develop into a future land steward.

In the first of our #IamACE series we introduce you to Stephanie Emery, and ACE EPIC intern currently serving with the Bureau of Land Management in Ironwood Forest National Monument in southern Arizona.
We are excited to share Stephanie’s story.

Stephanie Emery

[ACE] What is your background? Where are you from?
[SE] I am 22 years old. I’m born and raised in Seattle, Washington. I went to the University of Washington there. I just graduated last winter and studied environmental science, and focused on conservation.

What motivated you to be in conservation?
I am Native American–from Alaska. I grew up learning to be in tune with the land and with nature, and that motivated me to want to conserve our landscape. Growing up I really saw how people have been negatively impacting nature, and I really want to make a positive impact and try to restore our lands.

How did you find ACE?
I did an internship with AISES (American Indian Science and Engineering Society) who shares a similar mission with ACE. I met Hannah Wendel (ACE/EPIC internship Program Manager and Recruitment Specialist) through that position and she informed me about this internship, so I applied.

Can you tell me about the responsibilities you have for your internship?
We do a lot of trash pickup along the border. We monitor wildlife using cameras, and coordinate volunteers for different events. We install wash barriers to prevent people from driving off-road and causing erosion, install informative and regulatory signs, and also repair fences on the monument.

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Stephanie and fellow intern Alex Hreha check up on a barrel cactus that was relocated off of the path of an access road. The cactus was replanted safely off the road site and has been growing steadily and healthily since its relocation

What has been one highlight and one challenge of your internship?
The highlight has been working outdoors. We see a lot of wildlife and Native American artifacts. We’ve seen lots of bighorn sheep, some foxes, lots of animals. I love being out here.
The volunteer coordinating can be challenging. We are facilitators in that setting, so we take on a lot of responsibilities. The volunteers often come in with their own ideas, so we have to work with them. They often ask us why we’re doing a project, so we have to reassess our reasoning and back it up. This can be a positive experience though, because if we were just given an assignment we may not even think about the reasoning behind it, whereas when we coordinate the volunteer events we really have to know what we’re doing and why.

What are your plans after this position? Goals for the future?
I took the GRE and I’m planning on going to graduate school for either Rangeland Ecology or Fire Ecology. Eventually I hope to end up with a full time position with the BLM, who I currently intern for. That’s one of the major organizations that I’ve aligned myself with.

So do you think this internship has helped you to prepare for that career?
Definitely, yeah. This internship has given me the long term experience that I need for my resume, compared to some of the other internships which I’ve done that have been much shorter. This internship is 9 months long. One of the benefits of this work is that it has given me close to a year of experience that I need for my resume to prove that I’m committed.

What do you feel sets ACE apart from other organizations?
ACE’s staff seems more closely connected and more helpful than what I’ve experience with other internships. During some internships I never even met any of the staff and no one contacted me throughout the time I was working. ACE’s staff is readily available. The internship durations are better, and they have more cooperation with different organizations like NPS and BLM, which is great for career moves.

So do you think it’s helped you professionally?
Yes it has, in that I’ve gained a lot of good connections within the BLM, who I want to get a career with them in the future. It’s also helped me with graduate school, because it brought me from Phoenix to Tucson and helped introduce me to people from the University of Arizona where I can hopefully study someday.

Any advice you’d give to someone considering a career in conservation?
ACE is a good starting point. I think I’d advise people to start by volunteering (I did a lot of volunteering which I felt helped me get in with ACE) then short internships, build up to longer term internships, and that can help you build the framework for a career in conservation.

Stephanie Emery

Stephanie and Ryan Scot Gillespie install a sign to notify the public to refrain from entering a certain area in order to protect the bighorn sheep who are entering their lambing season.

EPIC Intern Nick Steel

This past week we met up with ACE EPIC intern Nick Steel on the final day of his four-month internship as a biological science technician.

Originally from Rockland County, just outside of New York City, Nick was in for a bit of a shock relocating to the relatively remote Mogollon Rim Ranger District in Northern Arizona. “It’s just me and one other staff member doing this work,” Nick explained. “We treated 195 acres this summer, which included hand spraying, the use of backpack sprayers, and bio control treatments.”

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Nick packs away a backpack herbicide sprayer which has been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized for the end of the season

The internship centered on the mitigation and control of invasive species in the area, and Nick’s time was split between working in the field to remove and treat the different plants, and working in the office contributing to a database of invasive species that can be accessed by all USFS employees. “It’s a good balance. I like having the two different types of work to alternate between.” The position relied heavily on plant identification, and Nick had to be able to differentiate between the native flora and the invasive ones that are problem-causers in the area, such as buffelgrass, cheatgrass, and scotch thistle.

Nick explains about the database he contributes to, showing the map that lists the locations of the invasive species in the area.

Nick explains about the database he contributes to, showing the map that lists the locations of the invasive species in the area.

Nick went on to explain; “Through my internship with ACE I got a lot of certifications—wilderness first aid, blood borne pathogens, S212 wild land fire chain saw, and pesticide handler. These make my resume stronger and increase my chances in the job market.” As part of this position, Nick had to complete a certain amount of volunteer service hours. He chose to volunteer with the recreation crew, fire prevention patrol, and timber sales, and developed an interest in wildfire ecology that he hadn’t considered previously. “I don’t think I would have been able to get this experience anywhere else. I’m really happy I came to work here,” Nick remarked, “My internship shined a light onto different jobs I would have never have thought of before.”

ACE EPIC Volunteer Service Projects

Welcome to a roundup of recent volunteer service projects organized and conducted by our ACE EPIC members. Over the summer ACE EPIC members logged volunteer hours from Arizona to Florida, and many places in-between. Below we feature the details of three of these volunteer service projects:

Restoration at Grand Canyon South Rim Lodges
Grand Canyon Village, AZ.

Despite finicky weather conditions, AmeriCorps member and ACE intern Jennifer Reeder and 10 volunteers logged 160 hours over the course of two days in Mid-August 2015. The original plan was to pull invasive plants and then sow native plant seeds in the restoration areas around two lodges in the South Rim (Thunderbird and Kachina Lodges) over the course of two days. Before the project took place however, Jennifer coordinated with the Grand Canyon Native Plant Nursery knowing the weather conditions were not in favor of working outdoors for two days. A volunteer commented that although things didn’t go as planned, it was still a favorite volunteer event, “Weeding, seeding, transplanting… so much variety in our activities!” Thanks to Jennifer’s problem solving skills, she ended up providing them more experience than originally planned. Reeder also encouraged creativity in her volunteers while they sowed the seeds, she said “They started making shapes: snakes, polka dots, common park petroglyphs!” The aesthetics of the park have been creatively enhanced thanks to Reeder and her team of volunteers.

Invasive Reptile Presentation at Camp Manatee
Miami, FL.

Camp Manatee outreach,Molly Conway_ pic3

In early July 2015, Molly Conway, an AmeriCorps member and ACE intern, gave an informative invasive reptile presentation to a group of young campers at Camp Manatee. Around 60 kids, aged from 6 to 14 years old listened intently about the reasons why invasive reptiles thrive in South Florida, and the negative consequences they have on the Everglades. In order to keep the kids engaged, Molly was able to bring a live Argentine Tegu and a juvenile Burmese Python. The up close encounter gave the kids an opportunity to see physical traits up close, like the Tegu’s long sharp claws that are used to dig up native turtle eggs. This was an important presentation, because it demonstrated that although small juvenile reptiles can seem to be appropriate pets, they grow to be very large and end up becoming another addition to the multitude of invasive species in Florida.

Camp Manatee outreach, Molly Conway_pic1

Pennington Creek Park Clean Up
Tishomingo, OK

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On September 26th, 2015 Ben Shamblin and Brent Wilkins, AmeriCorps members and ACE interns coordinated a volunteer project for removing trash and debris that was washed into Pennington Creek Park after recent floods. A crew of local inmates also participated in painting over graffiti and weeding problem areas around the trails. After the participation of 31 volunteers, an inmate crew, and a 4-hour window for cleanup, the collaboration had the park looking spotless just in time for the National Chickasaw Festival that was held in Pennington Creek Park on October 2-3.

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Meet an ACE Intern

Meet Cristobal Castaneda, Youth Programs Assistant Intern at John Muir National Historic Site

Cristobal Castaneda is an incredible ACE intern at the John Muir National Historic Site in the San Francisco Bay Area. He first began as a youth volunteer for John Muir National Historic Site before starting as the ACE Youth Program Assistant Intern in January 2015. While gathering and cataloging phenology data, supporting high school volunteers with the New Leaf Program, and reaching out to the public, he plays an instrumental role at the site.

Cristobal Castaneda

Part of his role includes working with under-represented teenage groups in order to promote jobs working with public lands, and whilst undertaking this he has demonstrated his amazing skillset. To date Cristobal’s projects have included leading tours, conducting interviews with park guests, working directly with youth volunteers, managing restoration teams, and advocating for National Parks.

Cristobal is a stellar example of how passion and dedication to the ACE and National Park Service mission contributes to personal success, professional development, and a really good time!

Catching up with EPIC Interns

Although our conservation corps is centralized in the intermountain region of Utah, Arizona, and North Carolina, and in California, ACE also has an Emerging Professional Internship Corps (EPIC) whose geographic scope spans across the entire country. This past week our photojournalist caught up with the three interpretation interns who work between the National Monuments in the Verde Valley of Arizona: Montezuma Castle, Montezuma Well, and Tuzigoot.

ACE EPIC Interns at Northern Arizona's National Monuments

ACE EPIC Interns at Montezuma Well National Monument

The ACE interns work alongside National Park Service employees each day. They act as the front line representatives of the National Monuments by interacting one-on-one with visitors; answering questions, selling park passes, and roving the trails. During their internship each individual is required to develop a unique personal program to deliver to visitors.

EPIC Intern engages the monument's visitors

EPIC Intern Dana Henze engages the monument’s visitors

“There’s so much history here,” said Dana Henze, who has been an intern at the monuments for 2 months. “And it’s a great learning opportunity. It is a great way to get a foot in the door and learn about the ins and outs of the Park Service. I hope to become a wildlife biologist for the National Park Service someday, and I feel that this internship is helping to prepare me for that career,” she explained.

Dana Henze

EPIC Intern Dana Henze

The EPIC internship program allows youth to explore, connect, and preserve America’s natural and cultural resources as they gain professional skills and cultivate their careers in the resource management field. For further details, including how to apply, visit EPIC’s dedicated program pages.

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