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#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!

Little Bear

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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#IamACE | Alex Sloane [video]

In our ongoing series #IamACE we are very excited to bring you a new format…VIDEO! Thank you to Alex Sloane for featuring in our first #IamACE Video Blog.

#IamACE | Theadora ‘Thea’ Doyon

[ACE]: Tell me about your background.

[TD]: I’m from Connecticut. I went to school in LA for english actually, so I’m sort of out of my element here but in a good way. At school I just had this realization that I needed to get back out into the wilderness. Instead of getting an editing job after graduating like I had initially planned, I went to work for a nonprofit doing graphic design. I just wanted to get back to nature. I don’t have the normal background of a lot of ACE corps members–many have degrees in environmental science or something similar. It’s helped me to decide what I want to be in life. Before this I thought i’d just do an editing job and maybe work for a magazine or publishing company but then I came out here, and now I’m really focused on getting an environmental education job. I definitely feel like I can shape my experience here for my future.

What motivated you to get into the field of conservation?

When I was little I was always camping and hiking and I loved being outdoors. When I was living in Los Angeles I was really starved for contact with the wilderness and I just really didn’t feel fulfilled. On my days off I’d go on hikes and those always made me feel a little bit better. So I realized what makes me happiest is being outdoors. So when I was thinking about what to do after college, I talked to a career counselor. My counselor told me about his girlfriend who had done an Americorps conservation program and it just sounded so cool, like exactly what I wanted to do. So I looked into it because I knew I needed a change.

Can you tell me about one highlight and one challenge during your internship?

I think my challenges tend to also be highlights, because when you push through the difficult things you’re just so satisfied. For me, rock work has always been one of the greatest challenges but also one of the most fulfilling things I’ve done at ACE. I still carry around this photograph of this beautiful staircase we built on a project in Holbrook, so when people ask me “What do you do?” I hold that up and I’m like, “THIS is what I do!” I love seeing a finished rock work project. It makes you feel so good about what you’ve done. Because you’re moving tons of pounds of rock. Halfway through it you just wanna punch a boulder.

Do you think this position has helped prepare you for the future?

Yeah, I think it has. One of the great things about ACE is you have all these people who are recent college graduates and are just trying to figure out what to do with their lives. It’s fun because you’re not only doing this manual labor that teaches you hard skills, but you’re living in this community that’s really supportive and motivating. People will tell you about jobs they heard of, or you’ll do applications together, you can help each other out that way. I like that.

What do you think sets ACE apart from other organizations?

I would say it’s the passion of the people that I see every day. I’ve never had a bad crew leader or a leader who wasn’t excited about the work they were doing. I think that really helps, because even on your worst days the people around you are still there and still enthusiastic about getting you motivated. And you can always say, “Hey, I’m not feeling great,” or something and they’re there right away to help you and to excite you again.

Do you have any advice you’d give to someone who’s looking to join ACE?

I’d say don’t doubt yourself. I came in worried that I’d be the least prepared person in ACE. I thought everyone would have all this experience and be really physically fit, like backpacking huge distances every weekend or something. I thought I’d be so exhausted I wouldn’t be able to swing a pick. And yeah…The first few days it’s a little hard. But you see pretty quickly how easy it is to get into the rhythm of things. One of the biggest problems I had was worrying if I would be ready for ACE. But I’d say just give it a shot!

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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 | Rae Robinson

[ACE]: Can you tell me about your background? Where are you from?

[RR]: I’m from Maryland, just north of Baltimore. I went to college in Virginia at the college of William and Mary. I studied biology and graduated in May. I joined ACE in August.

What motivated you to get into conservation?

In school I really enjoyed classes that focused on conservation, but I’d never actually done any hands-on work, and I wanted to try it.

How did you find ACE?

I found ACE while I was looking for jobs after I graduated, on the Society for Conservation Biology job board.

Can you tell me about one challenge and one highlight of your work with ACE so far?

Both my challenge and my highlight would be my very first project in Lake Mary. It was a month long project. Initially I struggled with getting into the physical work that’s involved with trail building. But my biggest highlight was that by the second week of that project I felt so much better, I knew how to use the tools, I was able to deal with the heat much better, I had made friends…I went from low to high really fast.

How did you motivate yourself during that initial period when you were struggling?

I just related it back to when I first found ACE online. It just looked so cool to me because it was so different. It’s not sitting in a classroom, reading a book or on the computer—you’re out there making trail with your hands and doing all this cool new stuff. So I told myself, “Okay. This is why I’m here. It’s gonna be hard, but I’m up for the challenge.” Just a personal pep talk. And of course, all the other corps members were great. They’re all going through the same challenges so they really help lift you up.

Do you have any plans for when you’ve finished your term with ACE?

Yeah. I think I want get into the field of ecology conservation. I’m applying to biology technician jobs right now, so I’d like to work either with Fish & Wildlife, or with a college—a lot of colleges hire techs on to help with their research.

Do you think ACE has helped you prepare for your career goal as a biotech?

I definitely think so. When you go to fill out these applications online, they ask you about your schooling and your background, but they also ask you about your experience with fieldwork. And that was the one thing I was missing at first. I couldn’t prove that I could hike in the backcountry or that I could work long hours in extreme conditions. Now I can say that I do have that experience. I definitely feel prepared for camping and hiking and doing all that stuff outside that would be part of a biotech job.

Do you have any advice for people who are thinking about becoming corps members with ACE?

I’d say don’t stand in your own way. If you’re interested in being outside and doing this work, I’d say just go for it and apply!

Would you recommend ACE to anyone?

Yes, I already have! I have friends who like camping or hiking but maybe haven’t done the extent of what we do out here, or maybe they’ve never been out west. I’ve definitely encouraged my friends to apply.

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#IamACE | Nicole Gonzalez

What is your background? Where are you from?

I’m from Delray Beach, Florida. I went to school at Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL and earned my undergraduate degree in 2014 with a major in Biological Sciences.

What motivated or inspired you to be in conservation?

Nature has always brought me happiness. I wanted a job where I could be outside and enjoy it all the time. Like all other valuable things, these natural spaces need to be protected. I want others to be able to experience them as I do.

How did you find ACE/EPIC?

I was part of another AmeriCorps organization, Arizona Conservation Corps (AZCC), when I learned about ACE. My AZCC crew worked alongside an ACE crew at Chiricahua Nat’l Monument doing trail work. We all became friends.

What duties are you responsible for within your internship role?

I am part of the resource management crew at Saguaro Nat’l Park, Tucson, AZ. I am responsible for conducting any surveys or monitoring projects that require fieldwork. Some examples are deer surveys, Gila monster radio tracking, saguaro growth surveys, and wildlife camera photo monitoring.

What has been one highlight and one challenge of your internship?

The biggest highlight of my internship has been seeing wildlife up-close in the backcountry and witnessing the seasons change in the Sonoran desert.

The biggest challenge has been trying to learn the plants and animals of the Sonoran desert – it’s so diverse!

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What are your future goals after this position ends?

I would like to continue doing fieldwork in beautiful places around the US.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Goals in Conservation for the future?

I see myself having lived in a couple different states, possibly working for a federal agency to help protect our public lands.

Do you think this position has helped prepare you for your future career?

This position has introduced me to the National Park Service, prepared me for working in tough field conditions, and taught me many technical skills. All will be helpful in my future.

What do you feel sets ACE apart from other organizations? How has ACE/EPIC helped to shape who you are personally and professionally?

I have met a lot of very different and great people interning in the conservation world. ACE has especially shown me how to work as part of a team.

What advice can you offer to future corps members and interns who are looking to get into the conservation field?

Even if you do not go into a career in conservation, working with a corps on public lands is a rewarding, fun, and memorable experience. It brings you closer to nature and tests your character.

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#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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