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ACE welcomes new President and CEO, Laura Herrin

For Immediate Release:

Flagstaff, AZ, July 11, 2018–

American Conservation Experience (ACE) proudly announces the selection of Laura Herrin as its new President and Chief Executive Officer. Laura begins her leadership role at ACE on July 16, 2018, succeeding ACE Founder, Chris Baker who is stepping down after 15 years of exceptional service and organizational growth nationwide.


“Laura Herrin has dedicated her career to youth and young adult development and conservation corps programs and has a great track record of accomplishments,” said Brad Bippus, ACE’s board chair. “Laura has a very obvious passion for ACE’s dual mission of on-the-ground environmental work and providing meaningful opportunities for young people. We are delighted to have Laura, with her very impressive skills and many years of leadership experience, take the helm of ACE.”

Since 2002, Laura Herrin has been an integral part of the growth and success of one of the most recognized nonprofit industry leaders in youth conservation and outdoor programs, The Student Conservation Associations (SCA). Laura’s vision and leadership led to a series of promotions over her 15 years with SCA, encompassing a tenure that included roles as National Director, Innovation Director and culminating in to the position of Senior Vice President. Laura took a leading role to create strategies around revenues, program development, and risk and safety management. In addition, she has been vital in negotiating cooperative agreements, developing new programs and partnerships, and managed a significant revenue budget for SCA. Laura currently advocates for the entire conservation corps industry through her position as Partnership Director with the Corps Network.

“I am thrilled to be joining a talented and passionate team at ACE,” says Laura. It is my goal to continue the work of and to build on the foundation that has made this organization a leader in the conservation field. We will continue to focus on being the partner of choice, completing important and needed conservation work, being the program of choice for young people wanting to do this work, and the employer of choice, attracting and engaging a diverse and talented staff.”

ACE Founder, Chris Bakers says. “Laura’s career has been defined by innovation, perseverance, and commitment to conservation corps. Her resume is robust, but much more importantly, I’ve always found her to be open, honest, direct, and engaging. The confidence and vision Laura embodies will ultimately inspire change and ACE will continue to thrive.”

Laura Herrin is a passionate, dedicated Executive Leader with an exceptional record of launching and building effective programs and consistent revenue growth. ACE is pleased to have her join our growing organization.

ACE is grounded in the philosophy that cooperative labor on meaningful conservation projects fosters cross cultural understanding and operates in the belief that challenging volunteer service unites people of all backgrounds in common cause.
If you would like more information please contact Susie Jardine at 928-226-6960 or email at susie@usaconservation.org.

Coronado National Forest – Bark Beetle Treatment

A 10 person ACE Southwest crew completed a project in the Coronado National Forest with the goal of protecting the fire-weakened forest from potential bark beetle invasion. Over the course of three months, the crew learned some serious orienteering skills and tree identification.

Crews deployed pheromone caps across 550+ acres. The areas that were treated were identified by the Forest Service as Mt Graham Red Squirrel habitats. ACE crews helped the Forest Service confirm locations of this endangered animal. At last count, there were only 35 remaining in the wild!

Two different types of pheromone caps were used. MCH and Verbenone. They are anti-aggregate pheromones that essentially tell a bark beetle that is searching for a place to lay their eggs that the tree is full and to keep on flying. The bark beetle then flies to the next tree and is told the same thing “sorry the inn is full! No vacancies!” Eventually the bark beetle gets too tired to continue to fly and dies.

The MCH packets protect Douglas firs and Verbenone protects southwestern white pines from bark beetle attack. This was a unique restoration project for our ACE’rs and we are so proud of the contribution made by our team.

 

 

 

Southern California Conservation Corps Collaborative

ACE is proud to be partnering with LA Conservation Corps and Conservation Corps of Long Beach as part of the Southern California Conservation Corps Collaborative performing environmental restoration projects in the Angeles National Forest. Here is a sneak peek of some of the amazing corps members and crew working on this project.  Full video to come! Stay tuned! 
 
 

Acadia Trails: It’s a Lifestyle, NOT a Gig!

Acadia Trails: It’s a Lifestyle, NOT a Gig!


After spending the week at Acadia National Park last week, I will never look at another hiking trail the same way again.

Pathmakers

The third day of our trip was all about trails. The morning kicked off with an introduction to the history and creation of Acadia’s extensive and highly crafted system of hiking trails, led by Margie Coffin Brown, who worked at the Olmsted Center for many years before starting her current position as the Integrated Resources Manager at Minute Man NHP. While with OCLP, Margie authored a Cultural Landscape Report on the hiking trails of Acadia, called Pathmakers. I had a chance to read through some of the report over the course of our week in Acadia, and, man, it is one heck of a document! Seriously, if you ever go hiking in Acadia, I encourage you to pick up a copy (or read it here). It details the history and characteristics of every single trail in the park, so you can learn the age and design ethos behind any trail you visit.

What came next was by far my favorite part of our trip to Acadia: getting to learn about the maintenance and care of the park’s trails from Acadia’s own Trails Foreman, Gary Stellpflug! We started out with a visit to the park’s trails workshop, a fascinating place full of character and history. The walls are lined with old trail signs from the park, which we all thoroughly enjoyed gawking at.

Afterward, we hit the trails! With Gary as our guide, we hiked up the Jordan Pond Trail to see some trail maintenance work in action. Several members of the trails crew were stationed at various sections along the trail and were working to improve it by installing new stone checks, creating “Jordan Pond style header walls,” and building new causeways. The new or improved features will help prevent the trail from washing out or eroding during large storms.

Seeing how these features are constructed gave me an immense appreciation for the hard work and design that goes into them. We learned how the trails team uses hi-lines that are rigged up to the trees to carry granite boulders, many of which weigh several hundred pounds, down the mountain to the desired location. The boulders have to be drilled or hammered to the right size and shape and then wrestled into their carefully chosen place in the trail. We also saw several exposed design features that hikers don’t normally get to see when the finished trail is covered over with dirt, such as the crushed stones and retaining walls that help the trails drain water and hold their shape.

It’s intensely physical work, but it also requires a high level of skill and craftsmanship. The beautiful design of the park’s trails and attention to detail was astounding. At one point, we even watched one member of the trails team transplant moss from the surrounding forest to create a subtle border that delineates the trail from the forest, while blending seamlessly into the natural surroundings.

A member of the Acadia trails team transplants moss to create a border along the trail.

Above all,  what really came through during our time with Gary was his passion and heartfelt dedication to his work. While Gary has worked at Acadia for over 30 years now, and getting to spend every day on the park’s hiking trails is a definite perk, he was careful to convey that he doesn’t work for the National Park Service because it’s fun. “It’s not a ‘gig,’” he told us repeatedly, while holding back tears. “It’s a lifestyle.” Gary does what he does, because he cares deeply and wholeheartedly about Acadia National Park and the mission of the National Park Service. This is a common thread I have seen in everyone I have met so far who works for the National Park Service and one of the most inspiring aspects of being an intern here. I hope to someday find myself in a career that I can dedicate myself to as fully and passionately.

Thanks for showing us the way, Gary!

Until next time,

Clare

USFWS National Visitor Survey Interns

ACE-EPIC interns are traveling in teams of two as part of a partnership between ACE and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to implement the National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Survey. These teams travel to a new location every two weeks and recruit participants for the survey at wildlife refuges all over the country. In addition to contacting visitors at refuges, interns have the opportunity to work on refuge-specific projects and learn more about each of the unique habitats the USFWS National Wildlife Refuge System supports.

Road Warriors: Michelle Ferguson and Angelica Varela

Hello! And welcome to our first blog. We have logged thousands of miles so far in our journey and we’ve only just begun! Join us road warriors as we drive across the states, jumping head first into new rhythms at every refuge.

Night one on the road we spent our evening camping under the stars in Moab before driving to Desert National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) near Las Vegas, Nevada. A rainstorm welcomed us to Las Vegas, and the refreshing scent of creosote hung in the air. A smell quite familiar to us Southwest gals, we were grateful our first refuge felt close to home. One night at Desert, we grabbed our headlamps and trekked along muddy cattails under the moonlight surveying the endangered relict leopard frog with researcher Rebecca Rivera from University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Rebecca works to restore populations of relict leopard frogs in their historic range. After a few weeks of seeing more lizards, Cooper’s hawks, and burrowing owls than visitors, we traded our hiking boots for flip-flops and headed to the beach.

Desert National Wildlife Refuge, March 2018. Photos: Michelle Ferguson

San Diego welcomed us with kind hearts and a glorious amount of tacos. We also got a taste of the challenges that urban refuges face while working at San Diego and San Diego Bay NWRs. There is a continuous battle with misused trails and graffiti, and the staff’s tenacity when it came to maintaining their refuge grounds was impressive.
After long days of visitor surveying, we came home to our groovy hostel two blocks from the Pacific Ocean, enjoying evenings around the bonfire teaching our new international friends how to make s’mores. April 15th, toes in the sand, we watched our final sunset on the west coast before an early start the next morning with a long drive to Marble Falls, TX.

San Diego Bay NWR, April 2018. Photo: Angelica Varela.

Taking a 180-degree turn from living in San Diego, where the hang loose beach lifestyle echoed in the streets below our window all night, we landed in a quiet 1960’s ranch house at Balcones Canyonlands NWR. Located in Texas Hill Country, our stay was peaceful with no neighbors or Wi-Fi for miles.

During our second week of sampling at Balcones Canyonlands, we were extremely fortunate to see the Golden-Cheeked Warbler flying above our sampling spot. The Golden-Cheeked Warbler is an endangered species that only nests in the oak-juniper woodlands of Texas. This wildlife interaction was considerably more favorable than the encounters with our red wasp, wolf spider and Texas redheaded centipede roommates.

Balcones Canyonlands NWR. Warbler Vista Observation Deck, April 2018. Photo: Michelle Ferguson.

After travelling from Texas across the Midwest, we sat on the edge of West Virginia with our back porch looking out across Ohio River Islands NWR. Here we learned all about freshwater mussels’ life cycle and the lures they display to attract fish. While most of the refuge staff focused on the “May is Mussel Month” initiatives, one staff member was eager to teach us local bird song mnemonics, the most memorable of which were the barred owl song, “who cooks for you, who cooks for you all!” and the eastern towhee’s call, “drink your teeeeea!” To this day, we sing along with them when we hear their cries.
Our last evening in town brought in thunderstorms. Afterward, the refuge manager scooped us up to hike through the backwoods behind our apartment. We stumbled upon a twinkling array of fireflies under a low, moonlit canopy still dripping from the rainfall.


Ohio River Islands NWR, May 2018. Photo: Michelle Ferguson.



Promethea Moth at Ohio River Islands NWR, May 2018. Photo: Michelle Ferguson.

Although working with the public sometimes results in uncomfortable or negative interactions, we have found ourselves most uplifted by an unexpected piece of the job. Among our travels for survey sampling, we have the opportunity to get to know many remarkable women in science at each refuge we have visited. In a male-dominated field, we stand at every refuge with females who are holding their ground: researchers, biologists, fire dispatchers, and managers to name a few. These women are leaders. They have shown us to stand strong as females in conservation careers. As two aspiring women in the environmental sciences, we have felt immense inspiration from the women on our journey. The phrase, ‘I wish I had something like this when I was growing up,’ is something we hear often. We are humbled to know that these women helped pave the trail we chose to walk on. Encouraged by these women, we are getting our chance to lay yet another layer on this rough trail to make it easier for future women in science to hike upon. We are grateful to know we walk among and behind hard-working women in our careers and we are grateful for the opportunity American Conservation Experience has given us to meet them.

Michelle Ferguson

USFWS NWR Visitor Survey Intern

I’m Michelle, a Colorado native and recent graduate from Northern Arizona University with my masters in Environmental Sciences and Policy. I’m interested in the human dimensions of natural resources, and using social science to inform conservation work. Specifically, I am interested in the balance of meeting human needs without compromising ecological resources.

Angelica Varela

USFWS NWR Visitor Survey Intern

I’m Angelica. I grew up in the harsh Sonoran desert of Arizona. I received my undergrad in Biological Science at Arizona State University and I hope to pursue my masters soon. I am interested in birds, specifically raptors, and hope to work with them one day.

Flagstaff for Flagstaff – ACE Flagstaff is working to donate food waste

At our main headquarters in Flagstaff, AZ we are working to lessen the effects that food waste has on our environment while helping our local community.

ACE food shoppers organize, shop for and pack thousands of pounds of canned food, perishables and produce to keep our hard working corps members fed throughout their projects.

With so many mouths to feed it can be hard for our shoppers to quantify the amount of food we purchase vs. the members and project needs. It’s a challenge to shop without having some food waste but we are always looking for ways to cut down on what we throw away.

On a yearly basis, between 30 and 40 percent of food (133 billion pounds) in the United States goes uneaten and thrown away to landfills. While uneaten food is gradually rotting in the landfill, it releases methane, a greenhouse gas that is approximately 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a heat-trapping gas. ACE hopes to lessen our own greenhouse gas footprint.

Sunn has been donating our extra produce since the beginning of the year. She estimates we donate at least 60 to 100 pounds of produce a month. We’ve also donated about 80 pounds of canned goods during our warehouse clean out this past April.

“Its great because we are being more conservative by not wasting food and also helping hungry families get fresh produce.” said  Sunn Nixon. “We are really happy we are not wasting as much anymore, but there is always room for improvement.”

Sunn came up with the idea after speaking to a person through another local Flagstaff business, Cornucopia Community Advocates. She was directed to the Full Circle Pantry she says “because they’re a great organization and I know that the customers that go there are treated with kindness and respect.”

ACE Flagstaff staff hope to expand this idea to our other branches nationwide in hopes that we can be part of the solution in trying to not only keep the waste out of our local landfills but to help combat global climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our environment.

Click here for more information on Full Circle Charities and the Peoples Pantry

 

ACE Announces The Departure Of President, Christopher Baker

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 9, 2018

Contact – Susie Jardine
Telephone – 928-226-6960
Address: 2900 N. Fort Valley Rd.
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
Email – susie@usaconservation.org
Website – www.usaconservation.org

Flagstaff, AZ, March 9, 2018 –

It is with deep appreciation and gratitude for his leadership and service that the Board of Directors announces Chris Baker’s departure as President and CEO of American Conservation Experience (ACE), effective June 30, 2018.

Chris founded ACE in August 2003 and under his guidance it has developed into a nationally recognized leader in the conservation community engaging thousands of young adults in the accomplishment of practical environmental restoration projects in America’s national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and other public lands.

Although Chris will be greatly missed by the board, staff, corps members, and partners alike we wish him great success in his new endeavor as the co-founder of Conservation United Insurance (CUI), where he will continue to support and consult conservation corps and other nonprofit organizations across the nation.

We want to thank him for the 15 years of dedicated service as well as his inspirational leadership and mentorship which involved many significant accomplishments and contributions, including but not limited to:

  • Expanding ACE’s service footprint from a small office in Flagstaff, AZ to direct service in 42 states and 3 territories.
  • Growing the original staff of 3 to 75 full-time leaders in the conservation community.
  • Providing conservation opportunities for over 8,000 young adults (and counting), including 1,300 conservation corps members and interns in 2017 alone.
  • Contribution of over 3.5 million hours or 10,700 crew weeks of service on America’s public lands since 2004.
  • Placement of 1,859 members in the Corps Network AmeriCorps program in 2016-2017 with 1216 members serving in crew based placements, 641 serving in individual or internship placements.
  • Development of enduring, nationally-scaled partnerships with multiple federal land management agencies, including the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service as well as AmeriCorps national service program programs under the state and national programs of the Corporation for National Community Service and others.
  • Development of dozens of federal, state, municipal, and nonprofit partnerships.

In the coming weeks, ACE’s Board of Directors will conduct a nationwide search to identify our new President and CEO.
http://www.usaconservation.org/ceo-position-announcement/

During this period of transition, we are fortunate for the continuity afforded by a great many talented and committed staff and board members.
Our team will work hard to ensure the seamless continuation of the professional field standards, support for its corps members and interns, and both the quality of work and the high degree of accountability that our stakeholders have come to associate with ACE.

We cannot adequately thank Chris enough for his vision, passion, enthusiasm, motivation and dedication. ACE emerges from Chris’s founding 15-year tenure stronger than ever, well prepared and excited for the next chapters, as we continue to harness the energy and idealism of the next generation of stewards of America’s public lands.

Brad Bippus, Chair
Board of Directors
American Conservation Experience
______________________________________________________________

From Chris Baker, President and Chief Executive Officer,
American Conservation Experience

After a decade and half with the American Conservation Experience (ACE),
I have submitted my resignation to the board in order to pursue new opportunities. The decision for my transition did not come easily as I am extremely proud of all that the American Conservation Experience has achieved and the colleagues and corps members who I have had the honor of working alongside over the last 15 years.

While I have a mix of emotions as I move into this next chapter of my career, as the Co-founder of Conservation United Insurance (CUI), I will be able to continue in the work that has become so important to me: helping to support the capacity of the corps industry as well as nonprofits in general from a new operational perspective.

I want to give my deepest gratitude to all who have been so supportive of the organization and of me personally and professionally over the years: staff, current and past ACE members/interns, board members, and, of course, our partners. Without all of you, the organization would not be as strong and vibrant as it is. I am so honored to have been the leader of this incredible organization and will watch with much excitement and anticipation as it makes strides in supporting and creating continued solutions for environmental restorations across the nation and US territories.

Sincerely,

Chris Baker

______________________________________________________________

ACE is grounded in the philosophy that cooperative labor on meaningful conservation projects fosters cross cultural understanding and operates in the belief that challenging volunteer service unites people of all backgrounds in common cause.

If you would like more information contact Susie Jardine at susie@usaconservation.org or 928-226-6960

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