When we met up with Rory for this post he was working on the Meder Canyon Trails Project in the City of Santa Cruz.
[ACE]Can you tell me about your background?
[RPM] I’m from Wilmington, Delaware. I grew up there and have lived there my whole life until now. I went to school at the University of Delaware, and I studied psychology and Spanish.
What motivated you to get into conservation?
I took a few trips when I was younger out west. I worked at a camp in Colorado and I got acquainted with the outdoors. I’ve always really loved nature and I figured I should do something to help preserve it so that others can experience it as well.
How did you find ACE?
I found it through a very good friend of mine who is crew leading for ACE right now. I was taking some time off from school and he turned me on to the program.
Can you tell me about a highlight and a challenge you’ve had during your term?
ACE attracts a lot of different people. You’ve got people who are younger than you, who may have just graduated high school; some are from another country. So it can be difficult to work with so many different people sometimes.
A highlight has been being able to work outside every day. There are negatives and positives in ACE of course, but everything balances out.
What goals do you have for the future when you’re done working with ACE?
Well, ACE has a way of kind of sucking you in. I might extend my term. My next goal is to teach English in Chile.
Do you think this position has helped you prepare for the future?
Absolutely. If I decide to keep working in the field of conservation or with a government agency at some point, I’ve made so many contacts within the USFS and the BLM that would help me to pursue that. It’s also taught me to be flexible and easily adapt to new things.
What do you think sets ACE apart?
Well it’s very different from other jobs. Spending so much time with the same people, everything’s on the table. Working, cooking, eating, with these people all the time changes things a lot. You know everything about everyone. That can be tough sometimes, but I think it’s also positive. If there are any problems they’ll come to light pretty quickly, but I think in a healthy way. They can be dealt with quickly. I’ve worked doing manual labor before. I worked as a roofer for 5 years. ACE beats that for sure. The environment and the people you work with here are much better.
Do you have any advice you’d give to people who are thinking of joining ACE or thinking about getting involved in conservation?
If you’re not afraid of hard work, this is position is attainable for anyone. But you’ve got to be flexible and you’ve got to work hard.