Blog

American Conservation Experience

Viewing posts tagged American Conservation Experience

#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.

Little Bear

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 | 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.

crdip2

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.

crdip3

#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.

Trail Maintenance | Tonto National Forest

Tonto National Forest comprises three million acres of diverse landscape located in Arizona, spanning from Phoenix in the south, the Mogollon Rim to the north and the San Carlos and Fort Apache Indian reservations to the east.

Crew Leaders Joel Marona and Josh Rosner, and Trails Trainer, Keean Ruane recently led a project on a six mile section of the Barnhardt Trail, which leads into the Arizona National Scenic Trail and the Mazatzal Wilderness. Due to the remoteness of this area it has seen very little maintenance in the past but now that the Arizona Trail leads to the Mazatzal Wilderness gaining better access to that trail has become very important.

blog1tono (2)

The Mazatzal Wilderness is a popular destination for equestrian users that require wider trails, with more brush removed, and fewer large obstacles such as rock ledge steps or off camber slick rock sections.

Two crews worked on this project, one crew starting from the top of a six mile section and the other crew towards the bottom. The main objective was to make the trail accessible to stock animals by brushing and tread widening, with the occasional step being built to accommodate stock animals in places where very large steps were present.

blog3tonto (2)

In the future, ACE will have four more hitches in the backcountry area of this trail. By working on the Barnhardt trail we are hoping to re-establish this trail as one of the main access trails in the Mazatzal Wilderness that can be used by Arizona Trail through hikers for re-ups, day hikers, backpackers and equestrians.

Fire Restoration | El Dorado National Forest

An ACE California crew of 4 just completed a 7 day project creating erosion control structures in an area impacted by the King and Power Fire just east of the Hell Hole Reservoir in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, CA.

The aim of this project was to improve hydrologic function within the King Fire and Power Fire burn areas by increasing ground cover with burned trees or other natural material, and by removing ground disturbances that affected hydrologic conductivity. Activities include falling dead trees to increase in-stream coarse wood, and some stream bank reconstruction.

KIMG0078

Sawyers strategically felled trees across slopes where structures were needed. Rounds were cut and placed where water had already began to erode the stream bank, and in areas where a lack of vegetation would lead to a high possibility of erosion during winter months.

Jack Colpitt explained that his favorite part of this project was the opportunity to learn more about the complex process of felling trees, and also the tree identification exercise.

The King and Power Fire was a human-caused fire that started on September 18, 2014. The fire burned 97,000 acres and caused hundreds of people to evacuate their homes.

ACE staff would like to extend a special thanks to Wade Frisbey for joining us on this project to assist with the technical cutting.

KIMG0085

#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!

IMG_5201

#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.

crdip3

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.

IMG_5268

#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!

IMG_4517

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.

IMG_4505

Summer in the Smokies

21 High School Interns have just completed their summer internships with ACE in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP).

In a series of blog posts, the GSMNP summer interns describe the program and their experiences:

The GSMNP Summer Internship Program is funded by both the Youth Partnership Program and Friends of the Smokies (FOTS). FOTS has supported the program for 16 years, initially providing the salaries for the interns and now funding the program staff salaries.

The program is designed to give the interns a little taste of a variety of activities that rangers are involved with – from fisheries science to botany to forest and stream ecology. The interns gain an understanding of how the park is managed and are introduced to possible career opportunities.

#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.

crdip3

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.

crdip2

#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.

crdip2

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!

crdip1

#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.

crdip1

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.

crdip2

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:

ACE-interns-celebrate-success-at-the-Bureau-of-Reclamations-miniature-dam-building-station.-Bluff-UT.-Photo-by-BLM-UT.

ACE-interns-celebrate-success-at-the-Bureau-of-Reclamations-miniature-dam-building-station.-Bluff-UT.-Photo-by-BLM-UT.

#IamACE | Jendrik Hohn

Jendrik Hohn, and International Volunteer with ACE California, working on the Ventana Wilderness Alliance Silver Peak Wilderness Trails Project.

[ACE] Can you tell me about your background?

[JH] I’m 19 and I’m from Germany. I’ve been with ACE for 2 months. I graduated from high school last year in a small city near Bremen.

How did you find ACE?

On the Internet. There were many different opportunities that I learned about—volunteer work, au pair, work and travel, things like that. I finally found this volunteer opportunity in America: ACE!

What interested you in this position?

I didn’t want to be away from home for too long, and this program allowed me to do a 3-month program. I wanted to do something in nature, and something that was totally different from what I’ve been doing so far. It’s free, and I can do something that’s sustainable.

Can you tell me about a highlight and a challenge so far?

My highlight was Yosemite National Park. I went there on my off days with other people from ACE. I also really like this project we’re on now, there’s a great view, you can go into the ocean every day after work, it’s really cool.

The whole program has been challenging. You’re in a different country with foreign people. You have to adapt, speak the other language the whole time. I think this whole thing has been a challenge for me, but I’m glad I’ve done it.

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

Yeah, of course. I feel like I am more open-minded towards other people. Some people I would have never spoken with in Germany for example. You get more independent and flexible.

What do you think sets ACE apart from other organizations?

Everything is nice to each other. I didn’t expect that. I got to know about 40 people now, and everyone’s so nice. The work is fun although it’s hard. Nice people, nice work, what else do you want!

Do you have any advice for someone thinking about joining ACE or looking to get into conservation?

I recommend it to everyone who wants to try it, even people who are afraid of doing something alone. It’s good because you’ve got a lot of time and fresh air to think about everything. You can hear opinions of other people about what they want to do in the future and you can compare views.

#IamACE | Luka Bresseel

In this week’s installment we are joined by Luka Bresseel, an ACE California International Volunteer from Belgium. We caught up with Luka earlier in the year when he was working on the Silver Peaks Wilderness Trails Project in the Ventana Wilderness.

International volunteer positions are offered in our California and North Carolina branches. See our International Volunteer Program page for more details.

[ACE] Can you tell me about your background?

[LB] I’m from Belgium. I studied commerce. I’ve finished school last year and this year I’m taking a gap year.

How did you find out about ACE?

Through another organization in Belgium that has different projects around the world. They contact ACE and send volunteers.

What interested you about this kind of work?

I wanted to come to America, especially California. I was excited to combine meaningful work with fun stuff as well—like traveling. We’re going on a road trip soon to the Grand Canyon and Death Valley as well. The work can be really hard sometimes. All day in the sun! But it’s fun too. We have an awesome view to go along with the hard work.

IMG_6309

Can you tell me about a highlight and a challenge of your term?

My highlight would be the awesome views during work and at camp, and the beautiful sunsets.

A challenge would be the blisters!

Do you have any goals for the future when you’re done with ACE?

I want to start studying at the university. Here you’re away from the Internet, no contact with people you know. You have a lot of time to think about what you want in life.

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

Yeah, definitely. It’s changed the way I think about things. You need to be motivated all the time. Sometimes it’s a little bit rough but you just have to keep going. I think it’s helped my work ethic. So in the future I might think “I was in Ventana working all day, I can study at a desk for two hours!”

What sets ACE apart from other organizations?

The crew leaders and project partners are really nice and helpful. It’s a nice atmosphere. They’re more like friends and less like your boss.

Do you have any advice for someone who’s thinking about joining ACE or thinking about getting into conservation?

Definitely try it. It’s a good experience.

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.

1

2

16

17

18

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.

28

66

72

93

101

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

Restoration | Bitter Lake NWR

A crew of 6 just finished a month long hitch doing restoration work at the Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge. The Bitter Lake Refuge sits above an aquifer, running down from the Capitan Mountains to the west of Roswell NM, and eventually feeds into the Pecos River. ACE Corps member Peter Schaffer was part of the project and shared his experiences of the project.

Being monsoon season in the south west, the crew would watch storms form over the solitary peak outside of Roswell. Sadly, the rain rarely reached the refuge to cool the crew. However even though the rain was not always there to cool the crew, they did get to witness firsthand how the water falling in the northern range would be absorbed into the system, before being pushed up towards the surface forming brackish sinkholes and leached through spring-like vents and feeding creeks and rivers throughout the refuge. ACE Corps member Peter Schaffer stated that this refuge is “truly an unsuspecting place, and, as the refuge’s visitor center tour heavily emphasized, it really is an oasis in the desert. It may seem cliche, but a closer examination of the geographical properties of this place helped put this project’s importance in perspective for me.”

P1030586

The ACE crew worked with US Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) refuge staff on many of the projects and began to understand how complex restoration work is. Peter explained: “Bitter Lake struck me as a great demonstration of how uniquely balanced the desert (or any ecosystem for that matter) can be for creating a plethora of life that has evolved in congruence with the terrain. The flora in the area love the brackish water; the bugs certainly don’t mind either. There are 5 endangered species on the [Bitter Lake] refuge, most of which live in and around these vents and sinkholes. They are dependent on the land and water with which they are so uniquely intertwined, and ACE’s efforts in the past few years have been within these areas, which had been heavily affected by invasive flora. While I have worked on other restoration projects that were in the early or middle stages of treatment, I began to see how this multi-year process of hard work can pay off in truly restoring and balancing these incredibly unique area around the refuge.”

P1030618

During the final days of the project, Corps members were able to plant native grasses along one of the creeks, and within the next year or two these species to proliferate. “It’s a good example of that tortoise/hare (or jack-rabbit) mentality, which has been hard for me to learn how to accomplish and improve upon while being in ACE. It seems that good restoration work requires an innately slow, careful touch in order to be successful. Missing a plant that can pollinate and spread seed over an area means that the end goal gets pushed back further. Treating ten miles of river in a day may sound good on a project report, but it may mean that the true goal of these kinds of projects was missed. I could see how ACE had fulfilled that necessity at Bitter Lake, and I hope that our crew continued in producing that high quality of work and diligence”, Peter added.

Thanks to the crew for their hard work on the project, and to Peter for taking the time to share his experiences.

#IamACE | Mercy Iyere

This week’s IamACE features Mercy Iyere, ACE Arizona Corps Member. Mercy had very little outdoor experience before coming to ACE and now she has learned so much during her time at ACE.

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

[MI]: I’m from Atlanta, Georgia. I spent a good chunk of my life in the metro Atlanta area. Right before I came to ACE I graduated with a degree in geology from Georgia State University. I’m 23 and I’ve been with ACE since October, so about 5 months.

What motivated you to get into conservation?

Right after high school I considered doing Americorps NCCC for a while, but for various reasons decided against it. Having completed college, this is my next chance to do something like that, but I didn’t want to do NCC anymore, I wanted to do something more specifically related to the environment. And that’s when I found ACE, through the corps network.

IMG_7623

Can you tell me about one highlight and one challenge of your term so far?

My challenge was my first physically demanding hitch. My first few projects were seed-collecting and we didn’t use that many tools. But my third hitch was a fencing project in Saguaro. It was the first hitch I’d been one where we needed to use tools, we had a lot of hiking, it was very physical. The beginning was definitely a struggle because I wasn’t used to doing that kind of work. Before ACE, I wasn’t very outdoorsy. I’d only ever gone hiking a few times.

A highlight was when I was working on the Pinal County trails project. It was the first night that I made a fire 100% on my own. It was like, “Oh my gosh! I’ve learned so much about being outdoors and being independent and proactive.”

Any plans for the future when you’re done with ACE?

No concrete plans right now. Hopefully I’ll get a job in environmental geology.

Do you think ACE has helped prepare you for the future?

Absolutely, because a lot of entry-level geology jobs are outside doing fieldwork. I think after ACE I can definitely handle working with equipment outside.

IMG_7681

What do you think sets ACE apart from other organizations?

From other jobs that I’ve had and from other corps that I see, the thing that sets ACE apart is the variety. Not just the fact that there are new people coming in every single day, but we’re not limited to projects just in Arizona—we can work on projects all over the southwest. It’s unpredictable. That makes it pretty exciting.

Do you have any advice to people looking to join ACE or who are interested in conservation?

I’d say be adaptable, and be prepared to look on the bright side. For example, sometimes you have to wake up early in the morning and it’s cold and you’re annoyed. But if you’re focused on being annoyed, you’re not going to notice how beautiful the sky looks.

Log Out | Dixie National Forest

ACE Utah’s crosscut sawyers recently teamed up to complete a complex log-out project on the Pine Valley Ranger District of Dixie National Forest. The project site was a wilderness trail that had been covered by dead and downed trees caused by an avalanche slide. The avalanche debris covered the trail and water tributary.

27270787712_acc73b59a6_k

Due to the sheer volume of debris, the Forest Service was considering the use of explosive to clear the way. This is not without complications, however, and therefore the Forest Service turned to ACE for help.

27367787985_501b0f759a_k

The ACE crew worked very hard to manually cut and remove all the logs, and the then rebuild the trail tread. Being in a wilderness area the use of chainsaws was prohibited and thus the crew used crosscut saws to complete the project.

The crew was led by David Frye who now heads off to work for ACE California in the Inyo National Forest. AmeriCorps member Brice Koach commented that his favorite part of the project was “practicing his crosscut and axe skills all while spending time with a great crew.”

27270469292_2b814059c8_k

#IamACE | Katt Lundy

For this week’s #IamACE, we met up with Katt Lundy, an Assistant Crew Leader (ACL) with ACE Arizona, working on the Meder Canyon Trails Project in the City of Santa Cruz.

[ACE] Can you tell me about your background?


[KL] I’m from Brooklyn, New York. I’ve been with ACE for a year. I graduated with a degree in geology.

What motivated you to get into conservation?


The whole outdoor aspect of studying geology got me into it. I wanted to continue the fieldwork aspect and do more physical practical work.

How did you find out about ACE?


The Internet, and I’ve got some friends who had worked for ACE who recommended it.

Can you tell me about a highlight and a challenge you’ve had during your internship?
A highlight for me is all the chainsaw related work I’ve gotten to experience. We’ve been on a lot of cool projects involving felling hazard trees and I’ve really enjoyed that.

A challenge has been learning how to live a different lifestyle. It can be very busy and chaotic at times. But this can be positive, because when you go on project you’ve got all this time to get to know people on a very personal level, and it adds a really nice teamwork aspect.

IMG_6668

You began your term with ACE as a crewmember, but you’ve recently become an assistant crew leader. Can you tell me about the transition between the two positions?
Well, I want to be a part of ACE more seriously. Being an ACL is a stepping-stone to do that. The position is different from being a crewmember because you have more responsibilities including more office-based work and driving an ACE vehicle. The transition has been pretty easy for me though.

Do you feel that the staff at ACE has been supportive of your desire to achieve a more supervisory role?
Yeah, definitely. I use the phrase ‘mutual respect’ a lot to refer to the relationship between the staff and the crews. They are really communicative and supportive.

Do you have any plans for the future after ACE? 

I’ve been thinking about going to graduate school for forestry eventually.

IMG_6611

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


Absolutely. It’s given me a lot of experience with a leadership role, working with other people, technical skills. It’s been all-encompassing.

What do you think sets ACE apart from other organizations?


I think there’s a lot more communication and freedom to choose to do what you want…If you apply yourself you can get a lot out of it.

Do you have any advice for people looking to get into conservation or join ACE?


Keep an open mind. You can get a lot of positive things from this job if you strive for it.

Rock work | Rogers Lake (Part I)

A crew from ACE Arizona partnered with Coconino County to build a stone staircase to an overlook of Rogers Lake County Natural Area, just south of ACE Arizona’s home city of Flagstaff. This crew is also responsible for the maintenance of two trails leading to the lake: the 2-Spot Trail and the Gold Digger Trail. The latter trail is named after 1890s folklore in which outlaws, on the run from the local sheriff, dug a hole in the then-frozen Rogers Lake and deposited their barrels of gold. To this day, people come treasure hunting — some even come from out of state — according to Geoffrey Gross, Natural Resource Supervisor for Coconino County Parks & Recreation.

Coconino County purchased the Rogers Lake County Natural Area in 2010 and began trail work to improve access for visitors in 2013. Although the lake often fills with water in the spring, it remains dry most of the year. “I think the goal is to make the area more accessible destination,” said Joel Marona, an ACE Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family (GOYFF) intern.

Geoffrey Gross said Coconino County Parks & Recreation is planning to have a grand opening of the overlook by the end of summer. Over the coming days we will feature a 3 part photostory on the progress of the project to construct the stone staircase at Rogers Lake.

Crew Strategizes leverage points with rock bar

1. Rogers Lake

The Rogers Lake project includes a variety of responsibilities, but the top priority is to construct a five-step staircase, providing an overlook to Lake Rogers, its wildlife, and a view of the San Francisco Peaks north of Flagstaff. In this photos, the ACE Corps members strategize the best leverage points for adjusting the top stair with their rock bars.

Communicating with Project Partners

2. Rogers Lake

Project partner Geoffrey Gross, Natural Resource Supervisor at Coconino County Parks & Recreation, visits the ACE crew to check on the progress.

“This crew has been great to work with and has already accomplished a lot. We already knew ACE crews are really good at stonework – they’re our go-to for stonework — and thats important as want this staircase and overlook to be a showpiece of the area.”

Gross said the overlook will have interpretative signage and spotting scopes for wildlife viewing. Elk, deer, antelope and migrating waterfowl are frequently spotted in the area, Gross said.

Look out for Part II and Part III of this photostory on Friday June 17 and Monday June 20 – links will be posted on our Facebook page.

Rock work | Rogers Lake (Part II)

Part II of our photostory following the construction of a stone staircase to an overlook of Rogers Lake County Natural Area, just south of ACE Arizona’s home city of Flagstaff.

Breaking new ground

3. Rogers Lake

Sarah Komisar begins drilling the first of five holes, the initial stage of several in a process to crack the large bedrock that’s inhibiting the placement of anchors for the staircase. Komisar said this staircase is especially challenging because it needs to be aesthetically pleasing. Komisar described searching distant rock piles for potential steps — four feet wide and two feet back — as “shopping at the rock store.”

“I’ve done a lot of rock work since being at ACE” Komisar said. “It definitely tests my patience, cause it’s so time-consuming and it’s just problem-solving all day. But I think it’s the most rewarding type of trail work, because there’s such a massive result. It’s pretty satisfying.”

Placing the feathers

4. Rogers Lake

Joel Bulthuis places feathers into the holes drilled by Sarah Komisar. Once the feathers are securely wedged into the rock, the crew will repeatedly hammer them with a single-jack, gradually stressing, and eventually cracking the bedrock.

Checking on Progress

5. Rogers Lake

ACE Corps member Joel Marona assesses the headway made on the rock staircase. Marona said that for him, this project has been a “dream hitch,” requiring technical rock work, tread work and even some chain-sawing. “I started conservation work so young, and I idolized the culture and crew leaders, but I thought it was just seasonal. Coming to ACE and being able to work in conservation year-round — it’s a dream come true.”

Part 1 of this photostory can be found here and Part 3 here.

We're busy conserving the environment