ACE’s Leaders in Conservation – Emily Merlo
Johnny has served as a Project Manager with the Southwest division since May 2021, after working as a Crew Leader with SWA from October 2020 to May 2021! He is happiest when he is in the field with his teammates or hiking during the off days. He fell in love with conservation work as a corps member doing ACE Flagstaff in 2017, after obtaining his bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from the University of Central Florida. Since then, he has worked with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy doing boundary maintenance in New England, as well as ACE Pacific West on the 2020 Pacific Crest Trail crew. Johnny’s passion for the outdoor s has led him back to Flagstaff, where it began, to serve as a mentor for the next generation of conservationists.
Dawn is so excited to be a part of the ACE community. She brings a heart for helping others achieve goals and grow and a desire to feel connected with nature. She lives in Inyokern, CA with her partner and 4-legged kiddos Greta Mae and Rowdee. Dawn looks forward to supporting members and helping ensure they have an amazing experience at ACE!
Freshly graduated from Northern Arizona Universities Social Work program, Becca is beyond excited to begin their work at ACE as the new member support coordinator. Combining Becca’s love for nature and preservation with their passion for helping others has created their own personal heaven on earth. The next closest thing to a personal heaven on earth for Becca would be a day spent outside, hiking with friends. Becca was born and partially raised in Manalapan, New Jersey, where their love of the woods and spending time outdoors flourished. Going to college at NAU solidified that the forest and the woods are exactly where Becca needed to be. Fast forward to graduating with a Degree in Social Work while double minoring in Psychology and Sociology, Becca found their passion in the field of people. Understanding the societal, internal, and biological factors that impact every person each day is the foundation of Becca’s compassion and something they try and help others to understand in efforts to build more empathy is those around them.
geology from the University of Minnesota, Morris. Over spring breaks he traveled out west to hike and camp in national parks. He spent a semester studying geology abroad in Italy. While earning his degrees he ran for the cross country and track programs and continues to run daily. A couple of months after graduating he joined ACE Southeast as a corps member to experience the southeast region of the country. After less than a year he became a crew leader for ACE Southeast. After two years of crew leading, Gabe is now looking forward to his new role as a project manager for ACE Southwest.
Michael Bee is very much looking forward to becoming part of the ACE team. He has an educational background in environmental and forestry sciences from both the University of Louisiana and Louisiana Technical College. Although most of his career has been focused on forest management, he is excited to explore and broaden my professional scope, and as such, learning to contribute to the ACE team as an NRCS Louisiana Easement Technician.
Judi is a farm girl from Indiana who moved to Florida when she was 12 years old. She went to College at the University of Tampa and completed an MBA and then passed the CPA exam. She has more than 25 years of experience in accounting including public, corporate, governmental, higher education and non-profit. She is thrilled to be joining the ACE team where she hopes to apply her skills to further the mission of this wonderful organization. Judi is “mom” to two dogs and one cat and splits her time between Florida and North Carolina. In her spare time she can be found birding in the swamps of Florida, dabbling in photography, or reading a good book.
Emanuel graduated from North Carolina State University with a degree in Environmental Science and soon thereafter accepted a Diversity Equity and Inclusion fellowship position with the National Outdoor leadership School focusing on DEI work in the outdoor industry as well as training to become an outdoor recreation instructor in backpacking and rock climbing. His love for conservation and outdoor education was nurtured there and further expanded upon during their time with their County’s Park and Recreation system where they were a Program Manager. Emanuel is excited to start this new chapter with the American Conservation Experience where they will go from working in their local park system to the national park system. When not working you can find them rock climbing, practicing their social dancing (salsa, contra swing dancing), binging media in all its forms, or napping.
Kyle grew up in Western North Carolina admiring the beauty and life in the Appalachian Mountains. He received a BA in Hispanic Literatures and Cultures and a BS in Information Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He fell in love with conservation work while serving an AmeriCorps term with Montana Conservation Corps. He later worked as an arborist and with Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards. When not working, he can be found hiking in the Wasatch Mountains, reading, or watching Carolina basketball.
Kerri Ryan began her conservation career as a corps member for ACE Southwest in early 2014 after earning a degree in Environmental Geoscience. After serving as an ACE corps member for about 9 months, Kerri became a Crew Leader for the ACE Southwest division. Kerri led ACE crews on various field projects focusing on Restoration projects, but also leading trail, forestry, and other projects throughout the Southwest. After ACE Kerri worked for the Forest Service seasonally, and then accepted a more permanent job with NYC Parks Natural Resources Group. In NY Kerri helped with Forest Restoration projects throughout the 5 boroughs of NYC, and helped plant thousands of native trees and shrubs each spring and fall throughout the natural areas of NYC. Kerri is very excited for the opportunity to return to ACE as a project manager for the Southeast division.
Shannon grew up in Maryland and found a love of adventure and travel which has taken her all over the world. She has always held a passion for environmental conservation ever since she can remember. Her experience leading up to ACE includes sea turtle nest monitoring through AmeriCorps and working for the Volunteer Office in Yosemite National Park. Through ACE Shannon aims to help individuals grow their passions through the adventure of conservation work. In her spare time, Shannon can be found rock climbing, hiking, skiing, looking for salamanders, or crocheting.
Originally from Tennessee, I am now planted in Bloomington, Indiana working with the Wetland Reserve Easement program in the southern half of the state. After completing my Bachelor’s degree in Fish and Wildlife Science, I began working with game birds in New Mexico and South Carolina as a research technician. I then went on to study at the University of Georgia where I worked with translocation of Northern bobwhite in the Sandhills of North Carolina. After completing my Master’s degree at Georgia, I took a bit of a sabbatical from the professional world to enjoy the mountains and rivers of southwestern Colorado. In my free time, I like to find myself exploring a river with a fly rod or looking for game birds with my dog Maggie.
Hunter grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, before he made a move out west. A week after he graduated high school in 2015 he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He has been enlisted as a basic engineer/ Bulk Fuel Specialist since then and was quickly promoted to the rank of Sergeant at the age of 22. His military experience has given him a multitude of experiences to include, bulk logistics, leading / planning operations, and working with different branches of service such as the US Army and US Navy. Hunter started his conservation experience as an ATL for ACE in Pacific West, spending most of his term doing rock work on Mount San Jacinto. Hunter later moved into the Logistics Coordinator position to continue supporting conservation projects. Hunter found a new way to love the outdoors by doing conservation work. He also found some new hobbies in backcountry camping and rock climbing.
As a Wisconsin native, Jake grew up surrounded by exceptional natural beauty and diversity, and has been working to advocate for the protection and sustainable use of natural areas worldwide ever since. He joined ACE as a corpsmember in 2016, eventually becoming a Crew Lead and Project Manager before leaving ACE to continue his career in conservation and trail work elsewhere. In 2022 Jake returned to Flagstaff to continue working as a Project Manager. When not in the office or field Jake pursues a wide variety of ever changing hobbies and is always looking to learn something new.
Victor is an avid outdoors person who enjoys hiking, skiing and any outdoor recreation. Victor started the journey as a software developer back in 2020 through a boot camp at the University of Utah. Victor always enjoys the performing arts and loves helping others through a non-profit based in Utah.
Jenn comes to ACE after spending 8+ years in multiple partnership-focused roles at the Student Conservation Association, most recently as a Regional Vice President for Partnership. Prior to joining SCA, Jenn worked in government relations and higher education management at Carnegie Mellon University. She holds a Black Belt in Innovation Engineering, enjoys hiking and kayaking with her family, and is president of the board of Allegheny GoatScape, a Pittsburgh-based invasive plant management organization that utilizes herds of friendly goats for browsing.
Caroline graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Maine and since has traveled and worked both nationally and internationally in the field of ecology. Recently she has received a graduate certificate in Conservation Actions: People, Land and Animals through Colorado State with a focus on communications. Throughout her career she has focused on small mammal ecology and habitat relationships in large scale landscape studies. Recently her career has shifted to focus on the ways conservation careers impact its workers and how to create more inclusive spaces in the environment through recruiting efforts. Outside of her career she is an avid hiker, kayaker, backpacking and reader!
Gabriella Logan is an Atlanta Native and proud graduate of Spelman College and Vermont Law School. With over 10 years of experience in both the non-profit and entertainment fields, she brings a wealth of knowledge about community development, recruitment, and the arts. She managed the Greening Youth Foundation Public School Initiatives after-school program where she recruited and trained interns from local colleges and high schools to execute the C.L.E.A.N (Children Living Energetically and Advancing Nature) environmental curriculum. Additionally, she ran the adult education programming at Trees Atlanta where she curated and recruited diverse speakers from the development and conservation fields. Her passion for community and education inspired her to stay committed to the cause through and through. She is a musician and legal educator and believes it is important to invest in education and the arts. She is a writer for Guitar World Magazine and She Shreds Magazine, the Board Chair of Girls Rock Asheville , a Voting Member of the Recording Academy, The President for the Girls Rock Camp Alliance Board of Directors, and the Diversity Editor for Guitar Girl Magazine.
Growing up in Florida, Jamie developed a love for the outdoors while camping and hiking through upland pine forests and hardwood hammocks. It wasn’t until college, though, that she discovered a passion for conservation and land management as a volunteer with The Nature Conservancy and decided to pursue a career in the outdoors. After college, Jamie joined ACE Flagstaff as a Corps Member and got to work on trail maintenance in the Grand Canyon and fencing construction in the Petrified Forest. She loved her term with ACE but found herself missing the verdant east coast. After a five day mountain biking trip through Pisgah National Forest, she was convinced that she needed to move to Asheville to be in the mountains and spent her first year there interning and volunteering at a wildlife rehabilitation clinic. Eventually, she found her way back to ACE as a crew lead and is thrilled to be involved in restoration work in the Southeast.
Matt grew up in Hendersonville, NC. Matt took what would end up being 10 years off from undergrad at UNCA, during which time he served 2 full terms with AmeriCorps, as well as serving as a Staff member for 7 offices of 5 conservation corps, and has now wound up at ACE. Matt has loved working in the Conservation Corps community and is super happy to be back at it! He enjoys piano, martial arts, time with dogs, and is currently trying to get decent at woodworking.
Laura Craig excitedly joined ACE in 2022 as Chief Financial Officer. Laura comes to ACE as a not-for-profit accounting and financial executive with over 25 years’ management experience, which includes over 15 years’ experience as a Chief Financial Officer at various nonprofit organizations predominantly focusing on youth, education, and poverty alleviation.
Laura is well versed in the ever-growing complicated world of federal and state governmental accounting, with a comprehensive understanding of the universal guidelines and regulations that make not-for-profit accounting so challenging. She has a proven record of being an effective accounting and financial executive implementing complex budgets, cash flow projections, financial analysis and forecasting, financial reporting, technology analysis and implementation, streamlining processes, internal control, as well as fiscal strategic planning.
In addition to Laura’s accomplishments in the office, she also served as an adjunct professor of accounting and business at Great Falls College-Montana State University for seven years.
Laura recently relocated back to North Carolina, to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Parkway, after spending 13 years in rural Montana and two years in rural Washington state, fighting the war on poverty.
Laura has a Master of Science degree in Community Economic Development from Southern New Hampshire University, a Master of Science degree in Accountancy from University of Phoenix, a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration (Finance concentration) from Salem College, and an Associate of Applied Science degree in Accounting from Forsyth Technical Community College.
While not at work, Laura enjoys traveling nationally and internationally to explore beautiful natural areas and National Parks with her family. Laura is an avid swimmer (she was on a swim team growing up), and she especially loves any natural area with water.
Ama’s love of the outdoors, teamwork, and tangible results led her to a career in trails and conservation. Since 2005, Ama has served as a volunteer, crew member, crew leader, project manager, founder of a conservation corps, program director, and educator in the public, nonprofit, and private sectors across 18 different states throughout the country. Combining her bachelors degree in Public and Nonprofit Administration from Grand Valley State University with her extensive trail construction experience, Ama enjoys building partnerships in order to complete complex projects and sharing her passion for inclusivity and accessibility as it relates to sustainable recreation.
Randy’s background is in Public Lands Management, and he’s been working to become specialized in wilderness and trails management. Randy graduated from Prescott College with a degree in Environmental Studies. He’s been working for the past 5 years on and off with both the Forest Service and Parks Service. He is excited to be working with ACE because he wants to help build stronger trails and environmental advocacy in the local community.
Originally from Chicago, David’s outdoor career path began with his sojourns through the world of the conservation corps of Texas and Montana. From there he worked for the Forest Service in Northern Arizona and later the National Parks of Crater Lake and Yosemite. Other experiences in the world of conservation have included trail maintenance on Catalina Island and teaching outdoor education in the mountains of Southern California. David has also given his time working to rebuild the lives of those affected by natural disasters in Texas, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, and Northern California.
Raised where the Great Plains meet the Eastern Forest, Sam was instilled with an appreciation for nature from a young age as he explored the bountiful and diverse Kansas Landscape. Following his graduation from Baker University in the Spring of 2016, Sam began his first term with ACE – a three month stint that quickly transitioned into three years. A time that defined the beginning of his career in conservation, and was highlighted by many beautiful locations and close friends. After a couple different jobs in natural resource management, he is back, hopeful to help create a similar experience in which members are able to express themselves, engage in meaningful conservation projects, and develop both personally and professionally.
Johannah grew up in Tennessee and graduated from the University of Tennessee with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies. She volunteered in Costa Rica with sea turtles and studied plant community ecology in the Colorado Rockies while an undergraduate. Johannah developed her research and mentor skills while working with undergraduate interns at the University of California Irvine’s Center for Environmental Biology conducting plant community restoration research. Johannah completed a Master’s degree in Wildlife at Mississippi State University and then joined the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in North Dakota. Johannah worked for USFWS for 3.5 years, where she primarily facilitated the conservation easement program, managed FWS lands, and completed a variety of GIS and data management tasks. Johannah was introduced to ACE during her time with the service, as she had the pleasure of supervising ACE GIS interns. Johannah especially enjoys interacting with and mentoring young people, so she is excited to connect young professionals with conservation opportunities as an ACE Division Support Specialist. She is also excited to maintain her connection with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and looks forward to developing new partnerships. In her spare time, Johannah enjoys hiking, traveling, crocheting, and spending time with her husband, daughter, and cat.
Jake’s love of nature was instilled in him from an early age. His summers as a child were spent camping and fishing on the rivers, bays, and swamps near his home in rural northwest Florida. This eventually led him to obtain a degree in wildlife ecology & conservation from the University of Florida, where he participated in research projects which ranged from turtles and manatees in the natural spring runs of central Florida, to ecological biodiversity on the savannahs of South Africa and Eswatini. Post-graduation, Jake worked for the University of Tennessee monitoring box turtles on the Cumberland Plateau, worked for USGS on marine turtle research in northwest Florida, and eventually served as an ACE EPIC member for a vegetation research project in southern Appalachia. He steps into this permanent position with ACE EPIC FWS after 2 years of administrative experience with another nonprofit.In his free time, Jake is an education and outreach volunteer with Great Smoky Mountains National Park and an avid Dungeons & Dragons player. You can also find him in the mountains photographing wildlife and hiking with his fiance and his dog.
Andrew grew up and attended college in California and then moved to Delaware to attend graduate school where he studied the neural basis of memory-guided foraging behavior. Following that, he worked on various projects at a USDA National Wildlife Research Center-Predator Research Facility in northern Utah. Now working with EPIC-FWS Division, he is excited to combine his passion for wildlife conservation with his enthusiasm for outreach and youth engagement. Outside of work, he enjoys running and backpacking.
Victoria (Vic) was born and raised in the suburbs of Maryland. She first developed a care for the natural world through her high school’s Global Ecology program. With a degree in Environmental Science from the University of Maryland and experience in leading Outdoor Recreation trips, she set herself up nicely for the grand adventure that is seasonal work. She found a consistent home working at REI before relocating to Utah to work in Wilderness Therapy. Working in the high desert of Utah fostered an unexpected love for the desert. This love led her to an internship with the American Conservation Experience and Saguaro National Park as a Resource Management intern. She is now excited to pause her seasonal work to help others connect and deepen their relationship with the land as a Recruitment Specialist. When Vic is not working she will be eating avocado toast on sourdough bread, surrounding herself with books, and climbing plastic and real rocks.
A Maine native, Matt is excited to be a part of ACE and help connect others with the world of conservation and volunteerism. Graduating in 2014 from the University of Maine with a BS in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism, Matt has spent time working in natural spaces over the last nine years. He has held such positions as a backcountry ranger in Kentucky, a trail crew leader and Field Coordinator with the Maine Conservation Corps, and has over four years experience working with the Forest Service. Most recently, he worked as a contractor with the Forest Service on the Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team as a Recreation Specialist for the Caldor Fire in California. Outside of work Matt enjoys hiking, camping, cooking, catching up on shows, playing board games, and exploring nearby areas.
Born and raised in California, Devin has worked in the conservation world for 12 years. Before joining ACE in 2013, Devin worked with California State Parks and the California Conservation Corps. Over the years, they worked on many different types of projects, but their passions lie in trail construction and working with our fuels reduction crews. In their free time, you can find them mountain biking on the coast or tinkering with something in a shop somewhere.
Gail Adams is the Vice President of Communications and External Affairs at the EnerGeo Alliance, an international upstream energy trade association. She has more than 20 years of experience in the environment and natural resources public policy arena and working with states and local government. She has more than 30 years’ experience in public affairs, non-profit organizations, and governmental affairs.
She is a former Presidential Appointee as Director of the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs (OIEA) for the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), Immediate Office of the Secretary where she managed relationships between the DOI and Governors, state and local elected officials and the more than 6000 stakeholders and organizations that represent interests related to DOI. She also had a key role on the President’s Task Force on Travel & Competitiveness and helped to craft the nation’s National Travel and Tourism Strategy which brought the United States from 10th in the world back to first in market share for world tourism.
Adams is a former television news anchor, public affairs show host, and radio personality. She is also a certified grants writer. Adams is a graduate of Louisiana State University.
Prior to joining ACE, Joellyn spent the last nine years with the Student Conservation Association. During her time with SCA, as a public grants officer she oversaw the planning, development, and submission of federal, state, and local municipal grant proposals at the six and seven figure level. She was responsible for managing a complex grant development process, incorporating knowledge of relevant content areas, organization priorities, and proposal requirements, to ensure that the proposed strategies and submission content comply with grant guidelines. Additionally, she managed all aspects of the grants once awarded including compliance, achievement of deliverables, budget management, programmatic and financial reporting, and communication with awarding agency staff. Before joining SCA, Joellyn spent 20 years in health care. She holds a Master’s degree in Public Health. While not at work Joellyn enjoys taking walks, kayaking, and most recently has taken up golf. She most enjoys spending time with her dogs and two grandchildren.
Deidra brings a medley of experiences to ACE – from team building facilitation, outdoor adventure education, environmental education, and resource interpretation – all with the common thread of supporting emerging professionals developing into incredible leaders. Deidra holds an Integrated Studies BA (Florida Gulf Coast University) and is currently working towards an MS in Experiential and Outdoor Education (Western Carolina University). Deidra started off a professional public lands connection by participating in the 2016 Grand Teton NPS Academy, and since has worked in three national parks as intern, as well as Bureau of Land Management (Yaquina Head O.N.A. on the Oregon coast) as a seasonal ranger. Other professional pursuits include 8 years as an experiential educator in recreation and environmental education settings. Outside of work, Deidra is involved in several initiatives to create equity in the outdoors-locally and beyond. Hobbies include hiking with dogs Cairo and Neri, paddling, incredibly amateur photography (Deidra’s words!), playing the viola, and ziplining.
Sarah is originally from New Jersey, but spent time growing up between NJ and New Orleans, Louisiana, where she also completed a bachelor’s degree from Tulane University. It was her time in Nola that contributed to her love of the outdoors and protecting natural resources. Since then, she has worked as a marine scientist in Florida, South Africa, and Maine, in health education in New Orleans, and as a science journalist in Boston. She is excited to head west of the Mississippi and continue her passion for conserving socio-ecological systems through human-dimensions work. In her spare time, you can find Sarah hiking with her dog, Bella, and participating in any water-based activity.
My name is Melissa Watson and I’m new to ACE! I grew up in Lafayette, Louisiana and got my B.A. from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. I’m currently completing my Master of Public Affairs degree at Western Carolina University.
Trevor works to protect and enhance wetlands on NRCS conservation easements. With a B.S. in Geology, he began his career in consulting where he specialized in stopping anthropogenic erosion from polluting sensitive fisheries. He continued to grow his passion for conservation while managing diverse open space preserves and conservation easements with a nonprofit in California. More recently, Trevor worked for a state agency in Idaho managing thousands of acres of working lands and regulating navigable waters. As a member of ACE, Trevor enjoys using his skillset to support public conservation agencies and private conservation landowners while protecting and enhancing natural resources. When not working, Trevor can be found camping, fishing, cycling, and spending time with his family.
Deanna holds a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from Auburn University. Upon graduation she discovered her love for teaching youth outdoor environmental classes while serving several seasons as an environmental educator in TN and TX. Her passion for the outdoors was further nurtured during her time with the National Park Service. Deanna’s NPS adventures have consisted of cultural resources work at Death Valley NP and Cumberland Island NS and interpretation at Carlsbad Caverns NP. She then bridged to the nonprofit world where she spent 4 years as a regional recruiter for SCA. More recently she’s spent the past several years in the areas of contract and grants management for a variety of public service projects while working to complete her Master of Public Administration. She met her husband while working at Carlsbad Caverns NP and they have been adventuring ever since! In her spare time, she can be found hiking, paddleboarding, skiing, with her husband, son, and husky- Loki (which lives up to his namesake daily).
Originally from Maryland, Meghan grew up exploring the marshes, wetlands, and coastal areas of the Chesapeake Bay and went on to study aquatic ecosystems around the world. From biodiversity and coral bleaching surveys on the Great Barrier Reef to assisting communities with the implementation of sustainable farming practices in Costa Rica to monitoring and relocating Loggerhead sea turtle nests in South Carolina, Meghan gained the knowledge and skills to connect with and work alongside diverse communities and ecosystems. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Ecology from the University of Georgia and master’s degree in Environment and Society from Utah State University. During her master’s degree, Meghan studied collaborative wetland conservation in the Rocky Mountains and coordinated a state-wide citizen science water quality monitoring program in Utah. Meghan joins the ACE team as the NRCS Easement Monitoring Technician, excited to continue working in wetland conservation and collaborating with diverse stakeholders. In her free time, Meghan enjoys camping, paddle boarding, and hiking with her Australian cattle dog, Oakley.
I grew up in Carlyle, Illinois surrounded by agriculture and nature. I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Wildlife Biology at Murray State University and my Master’s Degree in Forest Science at the University of Arkansas in Monticello. My passion is in wetland conservation and I have worked in wetlands for about 5 years. I am excited to continue this work with ACE here in Indiana. I love everything outdoors, from hunting and fishing to camping and gardening.
Elyse comes to ACE with a background in environmental science, outdoor education, and community organizing. Elyse received a crash course in outdoor adventuring while working for a Ph.D student studying conservation and land management in the North Cascades National Park. Upon graduating with her degree in Environmental Science and Geography from Portland State, Elyse set off to South America for what she thought would be a quick trip to visit a friend. That quick trip ended up being a season working in Patagonia, Chile as a guide. This is where she learned to climb and had her mind blown by Torres Del Paine. Upon returning back home to Oregon, she felt inspired to build a community organization to help create access and support for underrepresented genders in the greater climbing community. With a passion for people and the outdoors, Elyse joined ACE excited to connect with ACE Members while helping encourage them to pursue their passions in conservation. Outside of work (pun intended) you can find Elyse swimming in any body of water, taking care of her (many) houseplants, and playing outside with her pandemic pup, Cedar Rose.
I am originally from the east coast, spent time living and working in the west and northeast before landing in New Hampshire. I have worked in the parks and recreation/conservation field for almost 9 years including working for the National Park Service, municipal and state recreation and higher education. Most recently, I worked at SCA starting as a National Program Coordinator for the Northeast and Mid-Central Region of the US and the AmeriCorps National Program Manager. I received my Master’s degree in 2017 in Recreation Administration and Management with an interest in urban green space development and youth access from the University of Toledo. I have a passion for youth in conservation and supporting open access to healthy and sustainable recreation opportunities for all. Outside of work I spend time hiking, stand-up paddle boarding, running, playing/coaching competitive ultimate frisbee, cooking and competing in the Punkin Chunkin’ World Championships with a team holding the current world record of launching a pumpkin 4091 feet from a catapult.
Erik was born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico where he developed a love of the outdoors. After graduating from high school, he moved to Flagstaff, Arizona to attend Northern Arizona University. There he earned a B.A. in English and a certificate in creative writing. After college, he served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nicaragua. Since then, he has worked primarily in education. In 2021, he joined ACE as a corps member because he wanted to transition to the environmental sector. Halfway through his term, he was hired as Provisions and Supplies Coordinator. He is excited to do food and tool logistics and thereby continue to contribute to the work of environmental conservation. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, mountain biking, and making art.
Cassie joined ACE in the summer of 2017 after completing her B.S. in Biology at The University of North Carolina Wilmington. After completing three AmeriCorps terms in North Carolina and California, she wanted to continue her career in conservation, and has since worked as a Crew Leader and Project Manager. Cassie is most passionate about backcountry trails and rigging projects, as well as habitat restoration. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, cooking, gardening, and reading outdoors.
Kody grew up in Bullhead City, Arizona, alongside the rushing Colorado River. As a child, Kody enjoyed outdoor adventure and always influenced his family to take him out on the water, for hikes in the Black and Pyramid mountains or just up the hill by his house. In 2013, Kody began his conservation journey where he served as a conservation corpsmember in the Verde Valley of Arizona cutting down tamarisk and removing other invasive species along the Verde River riparian corridor. After serving as an Americorps member, Kody Crawford went on to lead a mapping crew, which mapped invasive and rare species along the Verde River and in the Kaibab, Coconino and Tonto National Forests. After completing the mapping project, Kody became a trail crew leader for the Island Trail project within Walnut Canyon National Monument. Since 2015, Kody has spent his time developing public access for blueways and greenways in West Virginia as an Americorps Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA) and in South Carolina as a private contractor for conservation organizations. Outside of ACE, Kody Crawford can be found hanging out with his cat, biking around town or trying to find a good swimming hole.
Alex D. Tremble serves as the American Conservation Experience, Chief Culture Officer. In this role he is responsible for ensuring that systems are in place and utilized to develop and sustain a best-in-class workplace culture. He started his journey in the conservation field working for the U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of the Secretary. After creating and managing the Department’s first executive leadership development program, he went on to serve as the National Parks Services’ National Youth Employment Programs Coordinator, and later the Chief of Staff for National Capital Parks-East. Alex is an award-winning speaker, author, and leadership expert who has over 10 years of experience coaching and advising some of our nation’s most senior level government leaders. He is also the host of the leadership and career advancement podcast, The Alex Tremble Show, and was named as a Leadership Center for Excellence 40 under 40 honoree. Alex is passionate and committed to helping our nation’s leaders reach their highest potential; personally, and professionally. Alex received his Bachelor’s degree in sociology and psychology from William Penn University and his Master’s degree in industrial and organizational psychology from the University of Baltimore.
Hallie grew up in NC and graduated with a degree in Sustainable Development from Appalachian State University. After a few cross country road trips, an AmeriCorps term in Denver Public Schools, and doing “van life” for a few months she began a career in the conservation world in 2019 with Montana Conservation Corps. Recently, Hallie accepted a position with ACE and is excited to work with members to help foster their love and stewardship of the outdoors.
After receiving a B.S. in Chemistry from Central Michigan University, and deciding I did not want to work in a lab, I have been in the world of trails and conservation for most of my 20s. I have had the pleasure of working all over the southwest from the Sierras to the Rockies. I love being able to appreciate the beauty of the outdoors, which is why I enjoy putting in the work to help keep wild spaces well maintained and accessible to future generations. Hobbies in my free time include: hiking, yoga, climbing, playing music or enjoying a good book.
Grady has been doing seasonal natural resource management since 2015 or so. His travels have sent him everywhere from Ohio to Alaska…twice. He is a self-proclaimed highlands river pirate who specializes in invasive plant management as well as a variety of tree work categories. His experiences have seen him go from backpacking herbicide to flying a 55’ bucket truck trimming palm trees to canyoneering with a chainsaw clearing trees off the sides of cliffs in Alaska. Whenever he isn’t hanging precariously off cliffs wielding chainsaws, he enjoys studying pirate history, cooking delicious meals, and woodworking. If you come across him in his natural habitat, he can be positively identified by his fantastic facial hair, brightly colored clothing, and generally cheerful demeanor. Some sightings have noted his fashionable kilt attire, but this has yet to be professionally verified.
Carl joined ACE as the National Forestry Specialist in November of 2017. As a 15-year career wildland firefighter for both federal and local fire agencies and an active US Forest Service C Faller, Carl has an extensive background in wildfire suppression, prescribed fire operations, hazardous fuels mitigation, firewise assessments, hazard tree mitigation, chainsaw training and sawyer evaluations.
The great outdoors has always been an important part of Carl’s life having started camping and hiking from an early age at many of our National Forests and Parks. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, camping and listening to live music with his wife and son. Carl is excited to be a part of ACE and to be able to pass on his knowledge and excitement of forestry and the outdoors to the younger generations.
Marilyn is a native Texan, but went to school at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN, earning a degree in Environmental Science and minoring in Spanish and Latin American Studies. During college, she studied abroad in Chile and met her husband while backpacking in Patagonia. After school, she worked on a USGS sage grouse project, chasing after birds for a season, and then worked at Lake Amistad in southwest Texas for a year doing GIS and field work. She’s excited to join ACE to work on GIS and data management for the USFWS Trails Program. In her free time, Marilyn enjoys traveling, hiking, camping, and birding. She lives with her husband, Carlos, and their cat, Buddy, in San Antonio, TX.
Adam comes to ACE with experience with various public lands agencies in Colorado including Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and Boulder County Parks and Open Space. Adam has a passion for the youth corps world having served on a chainsaw crew with the Nevada Conservation Corps and also as a crew leader with the Mile High Youth Corps in Denver. Previously, Adam grew up in Maryland and earned his BA in Environmental Studies from Bates College in Maine. Adam is excited to join ACE in 2021 as a Division Support Specialist in the Fish and Wildlife Service Division. Outside of work, you can find Adam enjoying soccer, ultimate frisbee, and a variety of outdoor activities on public lands.
Bianca (Oneida, Kiowa, Comanche, and Ottawa) hails from the plains of central Oklahoma and attended the University of Oklahoma, earning degrees in Environmental Sustainability and Native American Studies and completing research on Native participation in National Parks. After graduating, she spent a summer at Grand Teton National Park through ACE EPIC, where she found a passion for working and educating in the great outdoors. Bianca loves a good balance of activity and relaxation. You are just as likely to find her climbing a mountain as you are to find her sunbathing on a beach. She loves her daughter, her dog, and her husband (in that order).
Having had the opportunity to live and grow-up in a variety of unique ecosystems and landscapes, Ellie fell in love with conservation science and engaging others in the outdoors. She received her B.A. in biology from Vassar College, and completed her M.S. degree at Boise State University where she studied the human-environment system interactions of outdoor recreation and human well-being. Since then, Ellie has participated in ecological community mapping, wetland and stream restoration efforts, and environmental education. In her free time, Ellie likes to read books, bake bread, as well as go hiking and exploring with her husband.
Madison has had a profound love for wildlife and the natural world as far back as she can remember. This love was nurtured throughout her childhood by her role models like Steve Irwin and Jane Goodall, and by her family through their travels across the country exploring our National Parks. She was born and raised in Tampa, Florida which fostered her fascination with coastal and wetland ecology, and it was no surprise that she then attended the University of Florida and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation. From there, her experience in conservation science ranges from ecological research in the savannahs of South Africa and Eswatini to the mountains of Idaho. Her story with ACE began as an education and interpretation park ranger intern stationed in Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. She continued her work with ACE as crew leader for a vegetation research project on federal lands around the Great Smoky Mountains area, and then as a community engagement coordinator out of Great Smoky Mountains National Park headquarters. With a strong background in ecology and conservation, as well as environmental education and outreach, she is thrilled to take on this new role as a Recruitment Specialist for American Conservation Experience to assist other emerging professionals in conservation by finding their career path through the National Park Service. Due to having lived and worked in such vastly different ecosystems, Madison enjoys a wide variety of outdoor recreational activities, from surfing and kayaking to hiking and camping. She also loves horseback riding, wildlife writing and photography, and any activity she can do with her two favorite companions – her fiance and her dog.
Born on the east coast in Maryland, Hannah didn’t really see truly big mountains till she moved to Reno, Nevada. After moving west she discovered her love of all things outdoors, specifically climbing and back country skiing in Mammoth and the Lake Tahoe area. After a few years of rock and snow filled adventures through California and Nevada, she moved to southern Utah. Her love for the outdoors introduced her to the abundance of outdoor advocacy projects, non-profits, and coalitions all working to help protect the land that she loves and gets to play on everyday. Hannah came to ACE Mountain West in 2021 to be a part of protecting that land, and serve as a Member Support Coordinator to directly support the crew members who do just that. After work, she can usually be found riding her bike at Hurricane Cliffs, Gooseberry Mesa, or painting at home.
Alana Boies recently started work as one of two EPIC – FWS Division Fellows. Alana will serve a one year term in this new internal fellowship intended to provide young professionals with a broad range of experience and career development opportunities. For the last 4 years, Alana has been working seasonal positions with birds and botany mostly in the West. In 2018, she had a short seed collection position with ACE and never forgot the positive impression the organization made on her. Alana is currently working on a bachelor’s degree in Rangeland Ecology with a minor in Botany at the University of Wyoming. Her favorite outdoor activity is plant identification, masked as hiking.
Jack became involved with ACE in 2020 as a member of an Ecological Site Inventory team for the Bureau of Land Management in the western deserts of Utah. Originally from the coastal state of Rhode Island, Jack attended Appalachian State University in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountainswhere he studied Geography, focusing on GIS. He is thrilled to help get passionate people involved in conservation and land management. Prior to joining the ACE team, Jack had worked in the outdoor recreation industry as a rock climbing instructor and kayaking guide and is often torn between the ocean and the mountains. In his free time you might find Jack trying to figure out how to make his guitar sound good, climbing in the Wasatch range,or fantasizing about adopting a dog.
Carolyn Getschow joined ACE in July 2013 as a Management, Development, and Logistical Support Intern, and stepped into the role of AmeriCorps Program Manager in February 2014. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California, where she earned degrees in Biological Sciences and Mathematics and spent a semester studying at the Wrigley Institute on Catalina Island. Carolyn is a lifetime member of the Girl Scouts, and her favorite habitat is underwater, in the kelp forests of California. She lives in Santa Cruz with her cat Colby and enjoys cross stitch, baking, and volunteering as an official for the Santa Cruz Roller Derby league.
Marcel began with ACE in May of 2010 as the Logistics Coordinator, managing the crew member housing, orientations, vehicles, and food supplies in the Pacific West Division. After serving in the United States Peace Corps for 27 months in the country of Belize, he found ACE via the assistance provided to returning PCVs seeking to advance their careers. Marcel now advertises ACE Crew opportunities on those very same websites that provided assistance years ago, raising awareness of ACE and managing our recruitment and outreach efforts. Using his three years of experience supporting crews based out of our Pacific West division, he now focuses on finding the next great members of the ACE Conservation Volunteer and Crew programs. Marcel works closely with the operations staff throughout the division and when not conducting Crew member interviews, manages our Alumni Ambassador program, virtual and in-person career fairs and other outreach events.
Inspired by the rolling hills and flowing cricks of her hometown in central Pennsylvania, Nicole set out west in 2014 to Flagstaff, AZ to learn more about conservation as a corps member with ACE. After two 900-hour terms with ACE, Nicole began leading crews until 2017, when she then transitioned to seasonal trail work with NPS and USFS throughout the west, while also pursuing a Master’s degree in Sustainable Communities. After Nicole completed her graduate degree with her thesis research focused on the intersection of conservation and justice, she has circled back to working with ACE in this position of Associate Director of Member Resources to cultivate community within ACE and to support emerging conservationists on their ACE journey. Outside of work, Nicole enjoys tending to her plants, reading science fiction, taking nature strolls, and spending time with her partner, dog, and cat.
Chris’ passion for long-distance hiking and cycling led him to pursue a career in conservation. Since 2008 he has served as a volunteer, crew leader, trail manager, operations director, and deputy director for a number of non-profit conservation and trail organizations around the country. Chris holds undergraduate degrees from Boston College and advanced degrees in landscape architecture and natural resource management from Utah State University. He lives at Lake Tahoe and is an active member on his local Search and Rescue team.
Scott Springer currently serves as a Supervisory Natural Resource Specialist and Regional Realty Officer with the US Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, at the California-Great Basin Region, in Sacramento, CA. The disciplines under his supervision include realty, land and water uses, outdoor recreation, wildland fire and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) since 2015. Scott has also served 7 years as the Regional Outdoor Recreation Planner at the California-Great Basin Regional Office of Reclamation, where he provided advice and assistance to the Area Offices regarding recreation issues, policy guidance and partnership development beginning in 2008.
Scott is a born and raised Washingtonian. He lived in western Washington state as a child growing up in a small town in Grays Harbor County. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Wildland Recreation Management, from Washington State University, Pullman, WA in 1990.
Scott has a broad spectrum of educational and experience opportunities in various urban, rural, and backcountry recreation settings. Beginning in 1986, Scott has held recreation positions with the Washington State Parks and Recreation as well as the Department of Natural Resources. He began is federal career with the Bureau of Land Management on the Rogue River in Grants Pass, Oregon in 1990. His experiences then shifted to 18 years of recreation and land management experience with the U.S. Forest Service in the Congressionally designated Hells Canyon National Recreation Area of Idaho and Oregon and Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area and the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
Scott enjoys being in the great outdoors with his dog. Backpacking, fishing, golfing, biking and completing five marathons in the past 15 years. He visits the great Pacific Northwest often, spending a majority of that time in northeastern Washington at a family farm outside the small town of Chewelah.
Mark Comer was born in Bisbee, Arizona. With ten years of experience in the automotive industry under his belt, he moved north and joined ACE SWA as an AmeriCorps member in 2018. He was able to end his term early and join SWA as Fleet and Facilities Manager in 2019. He is our repairman of engines small and large, driving instructor, and handsaw-sharpening aficionado. When he is not managing the fleet, he enjoys attempting to tame his dog Flynn, dirt biking, and generally adventuring around this state he loves.
Born on a small island in Maryland, Mary enjoyed spending all her free time playing on the water and in the marshes. Determined to see more of what nature had to offer, she decided to attend college in the Shenandoah Valley of VA. She graduated from James Madison University in 2017 with a B.S. in Biology. Promptly after graduation and with another jump in ecosystems, she landed in Flagstaff, AZ where she completed two terms as a corps member with ACE. She left the sunny, dry deserts to explore the foggy forests of the northwest spending a year in Oregon leading youth crews and teaching environmental education. Again, she packed her bags, bound for the Colorado Rockies where she continued doing trail work and environmental education but this time at 14,000 feet. Now she’s back in Flagstaff and excited to help foster a passion for land stewardship in all the ACE corps members she gets to interact with!
Jack first joined ACE as an international member back in 2011, his first project took him to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and after that he knew this was a place he wanted to work. Jack worked as a Crew leader in 2011 and 2012 and loved every moment of it developed a love for trails and the South West area. That love of the South West brought Jack back in 2016 and he has been with ACE ever since. In Jack’s down time he loves spending time hiking and exploring the great outdoors with his Wife Sarah and Daughter Maggie.
Keean began as Corps member with ACE in 2010 after moving out west from Pennsylvania. After only 4 months he was hooked and has never looked back. During his time with ACE he has worked as a Crew Leader, Project Manager, Associate Director and moved in the SWA Division Director role in 2020. Keean also instructs Crosscut Saw use and relishes the opportunity to get out into the field and teach traditional skills whenever possible. Outside of ACE Keean enjoys playing music, mountain biking and taking his dirtbike out whenever possible.
Dennis started with ACE Pacific West in early 2014 as a Conservation Volunteer before moving into an Americorps member, Crew Leader, California Restoration Coordinator, and most recently the Associate Director of Partnerships. Dennis has spent much of his time on the road supporting restoration and forestry projects over the years, but has moved into a more remote administrative role here in ACE PW with the main focus of setting up new and existing projects all around the West Coast. He hopes to see you in an upcoming training or a fuel reduction on the beach soon!
Aaron joined ACE in 2019 as Regional Director for the Mountain West Division, and brings to ACE many years of experience directing facilities, programs and high-performance teams in the recreation, sustainable travel/tourism and outdoor behavioral health industries.
For the past eight years prior to joining ACE, Aaron served as Executive Director and founder of an expedition travel and gap year provider for young adults in the for profit outdoor behavioral health segment. In this capacity Aaron was responsible for building entrepreneurial teams, developing all divisions, and creating world class adventure education programming with a strong emphasis in environmental conservation stewardship volunteerism.
With an extensive professional guiding and adventure videography background, Aaron is a certified Wilderness EMT and brings the perspective of thousands of backcountry days leading and filming expeditions including: mountaineering, rock climbing, canyoneering, fly fishing, paddling, trekking, ski & snowboard touring, mountain biking, scuba diving, adventure motorcycling and wilderness self-reliance through traditional life ways.
Aaron holds a Bachelor’s of Science Degree from Brigham Young University in Recreation Management and Youth Leadership, Leisure Services Management with an Entrepreneurial Business Marketing emphasis through the Marriott School of Business. In his free time, Aaron enjoys travel adventures with his children and pursuing his passion for aviation. Aaron holds a private pilot certificate and enjoys building and flying experimental aircraft.
Karen grew up in the Atlanta area and got her first taste of hiking and camping in the Smokies and the mountains of north Georgia. She has degrees in Environmental Science and Forestry. She spent the early part of her career doing restoration with the NPS and other organizations out west, including many summers at Yosemite National Park. In 2006, she also happened upon a little upstart conservation corps called ACE and worked out of Flagstaff for a few winters. She moved back east for a job at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and now is excited to be working for ACE again after all these years!
Nick is an ACE Partner Conservationist with NRCS Idaho. Prior to joining ACE, Nick held positions with varying capacities in conservation – he has worked in education, as a naturalist, a forester, and with several conservation nonprofits. When he joined ACE in 2018, he was the NRCS Division’s first partner conservationist. He has a bachelor’s degree from Montana State University and master’s degree in environmental conservation from New York University (NYU). At NYU, he published research on environmental decision making and served as a referee for several academic environmental psychology journals. He also co-wrote a middle school textbook on climate change in conjunction with Earth Day Network. When not working to improve and expand conservation easements, he can often be found chasing birds in the hills of Idaho with his pointer, Pete.
Hayley has led NRCS monitoring programs at ACE since June 2019. She carries out nationwide easement monitoring projects and leads the development of an ecological questionnaire. Her exploration and education of the natural world began along the shores of Lake Superior while studying Environmental Science at Northern Michigan University. Her interest in wetlands, restoration ecology, and natural resource monitoring and management was set in motion during her work with NRCS-Tennessee supporting the wetland easement programs. She completed her graduate degree from Montana State University in Environmental Science and Land Resources. She is thrilled to be working with ACE, stomping around in wetland projects. In her free time, Hayley enjoys hiking, biking, camping, writing bios about herself in the third person, reading, and slacklining.
Fiona provides specialized program support for the NRCS Division. Originally from Santa Cruz, California, Fiona grew up swimming in the Pacific Ocean, hiking and camping in the redwoods, and traveling to nearby National and State Parks. She took her love for the outdoors to Utah where she worked in the outdoor behavioral health industry prior to joining ACE in 2019. Fiona has over a decade of experience in the mental health field, working with adolescents and adults, and continues to be passionate about mental health work in an outdoor setting. She has a BS in Psychology, with minors in Spanish and Peace and Conflict Studies. In her spare time, Fiona loves to travel, bake, and spend time with her husband and two cats.
Dan began leading the NRCS Division’s restoration program in 2020. For three years prior, he was ACE’s Division Director with the Gulf Coast- Conservation Corps program- headquartered in Corpus Christi,Texas. Since graduating from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina in 2010, Dan’s career has been entirely focused on restoration ecology and land management in the federal and non-profit sector. During his tenure with the National Park Service (NPS), Dan had the opportunity to collaborate with fellow land management specialists in over 20 NPS units across the Southeast and Southwest United States. His passion for progressive land management practices is driven by nearly a decade of experience in invasive plant ecology, monitoring, wildland fire, forest management and leveraging the power of collaboration. Dan spends his weekends exploring the unknown with his wife, Kristy, and their two pets out of a 22’ RV.
Crystal leads the NRCS Division and its related conservation service programs. Trained as an environmental planner and practiced as a collaborative leader, she has managed stewardship programs and legal defense for over 7,000 acres of private lands protected by conservation easements. Crystal has led strategic visioning; developed regional advocacy and conservation policies; provided technical assistance to landowners; monitored the environmental efficiency of conservation practices on private lands; and has directed multi-year and multi-stakeholder programming. She did her graduate work in environmental planning and engineering at UC Berkeley. Crystal lives in the mountains with her husband Zack, their daughters Wren and Ivy, and lab Marlowe.
Grace joined ACE on the National Trails Inventory project in April of 2019 after working in Washington DC on a multi-use trail as a Visitor Services and Safety Steward. She grew up in Western Massachusetts spending her summers on the water and her winters in the mountains. Grace graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2017 with a degree in Environmental Science. While at UNH she studied abroad in New Zealand monitoring the repopulation of Kiwi Birds on offshore islands. She is passionate about helping mentor the younger generations of environmental stewards by tutoring in Math and Science. In her free time Grace loves to read, ski, taking her dogs on walks, and volunteering in her community. She even can teach you how to ride a bike!
Ellen has been with ACE since her graduation from Vanderbilt University in 2017. She grew up in Ohio, but fell in love with the west after her first position as an ACE-Americorp intern, doing resource inventory for the BLM in northern California. Her term with the BLM only strengthened her passion for conservation and public lands, and she pursued another position with ACE as the logistics coordinator for the USFWS National Visitor Survey project, based in Colorado. She has since come on as the Agreements and Project Manager for the USFWS division, and loves helping others on their conservation career path. In her free time, Ellen can be found outdoors – she is an avid hiker and backpacker, and a geologist by hobby.
Josh has spent his life chasing outdoor adventures and now focuses on sharing these experiences with his daughter, Cody Ann. Josh is a passionate and accomplished backcountry skier, mountain biker and trail builder. “I believe trails aren’t just about getting from point A to point B. Good trails are like those bumper stickers that say that life is about the journey, not the destination. A great trail IS the destination as they provide an adventurous experience that highlights the landscape and hugs the natural contours, takes the user to beautiful viewsheds, rock outcroppings and other points of interest. Trail design and construction isn’t just a job for me, it’s an artform.”
Agreements & Compliance Specialist: Molly began her work with ACE as a volunteer in the Salt Lake City office in sugarhouse. She has developed into her current role where she performs all state and federal background for each member in the EPIC Program. Her dedication to her duties ensure a safe work environment. Molly got her B.S. in Environmental Studies from Westminster College and grew up working for an environmental restoration company in both New Jersey and Tennessee. As an avid Snowboarder, Molly loves hitting the slopes during the winter and in the off seasons you can find her near the water as she tries to find any excuse to go surfing.
Colby joined the ACE team after five years of working with nonprofits serving refugees in Boise, ID and Salt Lake City, UT. He monitored compliance for several federal grants, conducted data analysis, and administered a cash assistance program for newly resettled refugees. Colby also has a background in Archaeology, volunteer development, museums, and GIS, and is excited to return to these roots in contributing to the mission of ACE.
A.J.’s career in the non-profit conservation field began in 2013 as an AmeriCorps member with the Student Conservation Association in western Massachusetts. There he learned invaluable skills regarding hands-on conservation projects and environmental education for future land managers. He began working for ACE in 2014, starting out as an Outreach Coordinator for the Southwest Arizona division in Flagstaff. He has since been fortunate enough to assume various roles throughout the organization such as AmeriCorps program management, agreement management, compliance, and administration. Having lived in states ranging from Arizona to Maryland he currently lives in his home state of Wisconsin. In his spare time he enjoys golfing, landscape photography, and spending time with his Golden Retriever, Macy.
Born on the land now known as Wisconsin, Mackenzie began her conservation journey as a child “up der in da north woods,” scouring streams for rocks and helping her dad with outdoor projects. After graduating from Wisconsin-Madison in 2014 with degrees in Biology and Spanish (and a Certificate in Gender & Women’s Studies), she used her aquatic background to complete an internship with jellies at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium before getting into invasive species work. In 2016, Mackenzie made the move to Arizona for her first of two 900-hour Corps Member terms and later helped facilitate the start of the Gulf Coast Division as a Crew Leader. After finding great fulfillment working as the Youth Programs Coordinator, Mackenzie is now happy to be a part of the Marketing & Communications Team as she works towards a graduate degree in Sustainable Communities. In her free time, Mackenzie enjoys a good nonfiction read, getting outside, and catching up with ACE family all around the country!
Joel served with ACE as a corpsmember and Crew Leader in the Southwest Division before departing to pursue new opportunities and finally returning! Joel has built many trails in his time working with various conservation organizations and the National Parks Service. Of those truly innumerable trails, the one that weathered the years the most stolidly was the trail that has led him back to ACE. A Washington native he grew up loving to spend time getting covered in dirt, a passion that has been foundational in his continuing career in conservation, and one that continues to be his guiding star.
Nick is a globally minded humanitarian with a wide array of teaching and leadership experiences. He graduated from Iowa State University in 2017 with a B.S. in Global Resource Systems and Environmental Science. Leading outdoor trips in the back and front country, collecting vegetative data for the US Forest Service in support of their conservation efforts of the Greater Sage Grouse and working on an organic and biodynamic farm with over 450 heirloom tomato varieties (and almost as many goats) are snapshots of the projects he has been involved in over the past few seasons. He continues to pursue a career that allows him to bring together and support young people for the achievement of an imperative, overarching mission- especially when it comes to restoring public lands!
Katie Lyon joined the USFWS Division as the National Trail Inventory Project/Data Manager in 2020. She previously worked with ACE and USFWS on the national visitor survey project and is excited to join the ACE team. Katie holds a bachelor’s in Natural Resource Recreation & Tourism and a master’s in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources from Colorado State University. She currently lives in Lander, WY, with her partner Chris and Aussie dog Alta, and enjoys gardening, climbing, hunting, and paddleboarding.
Mitch grew up in central rural North Carolina where he went on to study Natural Resource Management and Forestry at Western Carolina University. He served with AmeriCorps NCCC and then transitioned into the conservation field, working for Coconino Rural Environmental Corps (C-REC) as a corps member then a mentor for YCC in Flagstaff, Arizona. Mitch continued in building his conservation experience working as a crew leader for The Conservation Corps of Minnesota and the Conservation Corps New Mexico. Outside the Corps world, he has worked in the outdoor recreation industry including guiding paddling trips, working as a camp counselor for a summer camp, and grooming ski trails in Colorado. Outside of the ACE office, Mitch can be found hiking, kayaking, and fly fishing across the southwest.
Christian graduated in 2015 from the University of Wyoming with a double major in Wildlife Biology and Environment & Natural Resources and a minor in Spanish. When not in school, Christian enjoyed summers with the Wyoming Conservation Corps leading crews, tracking lions in Kenya for his thesis, and wildland firefighting throughout the West. Luckily for Christian he was never eaten by any lions and he can now enjoy passing on his skills to future conservation superheroes who are pursuing their passions with ACE.
Alassane Naing joined the ACE team in 2019 as part of the ACEglobal division. Alassane works with all staff on basic administration, human resources, and program development. He is originally from Mali, Bamako, Africa but moved to the United States when he was seven years old. His first languages are French and Bamara, but he learned to also speak, read and write English upon arriving in Utah. Alassane is a black belt in Shotokan Karate and recently completed his final year of eligibility as a cornerback at the University of Utah Pac12 Football team. He is currently living in Salt Lake City, Utah and about to graduate from the University of Utah with a BS in Economics and a minor in Computer Literacy.
Jim has been with ACE for over 10 years and oversees the maintenance and construction needs of all ACE properties in the Western ACE Divisions, including office spaces and member housing. When not at work, you may find him coaching the local high school cycling team or even out for a race himself. With over 20 years of cycling experience, Jim is constantly lending his expertise to help reconstruct and re-purpose bikes around the office.
Not only does Jim bring a lifetime of prestigious accomplishments and skills to his position but also invaluable kindness and dedication. Without him and the help of his team, we might quite literally fall apart at the studs!
Rafael Rosa joined ACE in 2020 as Chief Program Officer.
Rafael spent six years with the Student Conservation Association as a Regional Vice President for Partnerships (RVP) and Senior VP of Program. As an RVP his team was responsible for all SCA partnerships in a 16 state area. As SVP his team placed and supported 2500+ members each year.
Previous to SCA, Rafael spent 25 years in the museum environmental education and conservation field in Chicago. He led teams that developed and implemented environmental curriculum in museums, schools and in local communities with an emphasis on helping youth understand that despite living in an urban area they were not divorced from nature.
While not at work, Rafael enjoys spending time with his wife and sons who as a group have visited National Parks and other natural areas in 44 states and counting.
Jimmy first joined ACE as a volunteer in 2011. After catching the Conservation bug, Jimmy went back to School and graduated with an MSc in Applied Ecology and Conservation. Jimmy worked on numerous conservation projects in the UK, Indonesia and Australia as well as leading ACE crews in 2014-15 developing a passion for Trail work and dry-stone masonry, before moving into the role of Conservation Trainer & Coordinator in 2016. In his spare time, Jimmy enjoys exploring the Southwest, hiking, playing pool and trying not to fall off his mountain bike.
Michael grew up in a small town on Lake Ontario, just north of Buffalo, New York. He has a great love for the outdoors, especially hiking, climbing, hunting, fly fishing, mountain biking, and skiing. Michael is a recent graduate of George Mason University in Virginia, where he studied Conflict Analysis and Resolution and had a minor in Environmental Science. While living in Virginia, Michael worked at a local outfitter and discovered that his love of the outdoors was something he wanted to pursue not only in his personal life, but also in his professional. After school Michael worked as a Research Assistant with the Sierra Club Environmental Justice Program, where he did extensive research into the relationship between environmental degradation and community health as well as helped with events planning and promotion of a clean energy economy. He then set his eyes on Utah, a place he has always loved to visit for its incredible outdoor recreation opportunities. As the ACE Mountain West AmeriCorps Program Manager, Michael is enjoying the opportunity to be a part of direct conservation and improve the opportunities for others to get out and share in his own passion for the outdoors.
Joshua Burt began his conservation career in 2002 working as a conservation intern with the Student Conservation Association. Following that experience, he taught outdoor education in his home state of Ohio and continued leading trail crews for SCA in the summer. In 2005, Josh moved to China and taught English in Shandong province, but continued to return in the summer to lead trail crews. In 2007, he returned to the states more permanently and began working in various staff positions for Southwest Conservation corps. In 2011, he became the trail crew leader in Deep Creek District of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and there learned about ACE. He joined ACE as the Operations Manager of the North Carolina office in 2014.
Adam Scherm graduated with a Degree in Zoology and a minor in Spanish at Oklahoma State University. After college, Adam served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Panama focusing on environmental conservation from 2006-2008. That experience led him to apply for a job as an Assistant Crew Leader with ACE. After several months, he began leading crews on public lands all over the Southwest. In 2013, He assumed the role of Trails Trainer and Coordinator for the Arizona office. He managed the trails projects as well as trained crew leaders and corps members in technical rock work, rigging, trail maintenance, and layout. Adam is currently the Director of ACE’s Southeastern branch in Asheville, North Carolina which supports and manages 40 youth in conservation activities and is working with 6 different Land Management Agencies and non-profits.
As the National Division Director for ACE EPIC, and its NPS partnerships, Peter oversees all aspects of project creation and management, ensuring that smooth and positive partnerships continue without a hitch.
Peter brings a host of conservation experiences from the field including backcountry patrol work in the Brooks Range and Yukon River of Alaska (NPS); resource management and environmental education as an AmeriCorps member in Barnstable Co, Massachusetts (DNR, NPS, and non-profit land trusts); wildlife monitoring in the Sierras (Sequoia National Forest, USFS); and vegetation dynamics research in Chobe National Park, Botswana. When he’s not working with talented EPIC Interns/Fellows and amazing NPS staff, Peter can likely be found running or backcountry skiing in the Wasatch, or traveling with his amazing wife.
Kevin grew up in rural Mississippi where he spent his youth exploring, hunting and fishing in the pristine riparian forests and wetlands along the Mississippi River, less than a mile from his home at the time. Nature was the primary source of adventure and entertainment in his youth.This early love for outdoor adventures and wild creatures led to a wildlife conservation career spanning 35 years, two wildlife agencies and 11 states. He began his career as an alligator and alligator snapping turtle researcher with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries before accepting a position with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1987. Before retirement in 2017, he had served in biological and management positions in eight states with the FWS at National Fish Hatcheries, Ecological Services Field Offices, National Wildlife Refuges, and with Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (Federal Aid). In 2011, he graduated from the Service’s Advanced Leadership Development Program.
He shares life with a wonderful, supportive partner of 26 years, Valerie, and 2 children, Dhara (13) and Dustin (8) and two Australian shepherds, Jade and Ciera. Valerie is a Montessori educator.
Kevin spent more than 20 years either rock climbing, mountaineering, kayaking, fly fishing or backpacking across the west. Now, he enjoys family and pets, traveling, fishing, gardening, birding, hiking, camping, cooking, photography, and music.
Caroline joined the ACE recruiting team in September 2019, coming from a background of environmental nonprofits. Originally an East Coaster, she grew up running canoes down rivers and there gained a deep love and respect for public lands and waterways. She received a degree in Environmental Management and Policy from the University of North Carolina- Asheville and promptly headed west to serve two terms with AmeriCorps NCCC and VIP, putting her in the field of wildfire restoration, trail work and environmental education up and down the Pacific coast. This landed her in Southern California for a time, working with a coastal protection nonprofit and recreation advocacy groups. Her love of alpine peaks and seasons brought her to Utah, where you’ll now almost always find her climbing her way through the canyons, enjoying long hikes into the backcountry and kicking back under the stars.
After years of bouncing around the west in various ecology and conservation positions, Josh returned to his native Utah as a BLM Recruitment specialist here at ACE. Josh began his career in academic research in ecology with a passion for plant-soil interactions and the mechanisms governing ecosystem fluxes. However, he continually found himself being pulled toward outreach and conservation. He enjoys learning about the various ways people interact with their environment and helping them expand their experience. Josh most recently led a youth conservation crew in the northern Sierra Nevadas, teaching them conservation work as well as camping and life skills. He’s excited to continue facilitating access to conservation opportunities. On his own time, Josh can be found travelling, playing the brazilian martial art Capoeira, hiking, camping, or just sitting around. He has recently decided to take up baking.
Celia began her conservation journey back in 2005 with the Western Colorado Conservation Corps on a saw crew and never looked back. Over the years she has worked for Acadia National Park, Appalachian Mountain Club, Amargosa Conservancy, Student Conservation Association and the Southeast Conservation Corps to build and maintain trails all over the U.S. while leading and managing youth and young adults in service to the land and surrounding communities. She enjoys reading and exploring all the nooks and crannies nature has to offer in her free time, no matter the urban or wild landscape!
Shayne has been a member of ACE’s Board of Directors since the spring of 2013. He has served as the chair of the board’s finance committee and served on the special committee charged with selecting ACE’s current CEO and President. Shayne brings experience in accounting, real estate transactions, finance and banking. He is currently the Chief Financial Officer of Youth Health Associates, Inc. located in Salt Lake City, Utah. He has held previous positions as a controller and analyst for small companies in real estate and construction and in business banking with US Bank. Shayne lives with his family in Sandy, Utah and enjoys Utah’s variety of outdoor recreation opportunities, especially the world-class fly fishing.
Jeanne Wade Evans served as the Deputy Regional Forester for the Pacific Southwest Region of the U.S. Forest Service for seven years before retiring in 2017. In her final leadership role, she directed all State and Private Forestry programs in California, Hawaii and the U.S. Pacific Islands. She also strategically led Fire, Aviation, Safety and Acquisition programs for the region affecting 18 National Forests, 8000 employees and annual budgets of over $500 million. She held numerous other leadership positions over her 40 years of public service.
Previous to that position, Jeanne served as the Forest Supervisor of the San Bernardino National Forest in southern California where she led over 600 employees through large organizational change and delivered numerous programs to improve the public forest experience and land stewardship. Prior to this assignment she spent six years at the Forest Service National headquarters in Washington D. C. focused on solving Fire, Aviation, Forestry, Range, Partnership and Legislative issues that impacted the entire agency. She did this in her roles as Deputy Director for Forest and Rangelands, Policy Specialist for Fire and Aviation, National Fire Plan Coordinator, and as the agency representative to the White House Conference on Cooperative Conservation.
Before beginning her service in the Forest Service’s National headquarters, Jeanne worked for 22 years in various Forest Service field positions in Arizona. She immensely enjoyed her role as District Ranger on the Coronado National Forest in southeastern Arizona believing that this is where a direct impact on land stewardship occurs. She began her Forest Service career in 1977 on the Coconino National Forest in Arizona as a Range Conservationist. Jeanne received her Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Resources from Arizona State University, completed course work in Environmental Policy at the University of Arizona and is a graduate of the Senior Executive Fellows Program at Harvard. She was committed to continuous learning over her career and focused on leadership development for her employees. She still mentors those in the agency.
Jeanne demonstrated commitment to partnerships throughout her career. She realized that it is in the public interest to bring together those who care about land stewardship through collaborative public private business models. She partnered with many different conservation corps and conservation organizations over the years to achieve ecological restoration on the ground. Her passion was doing all she could to insure everyone arrived home safely after every work assignment. To that end, she helped lead the Forest Service through a leader engagement strategy with a focus on being a learning organization. During her tenure safety and risk management saw increased focused leadership attention at all levels of the organization and reduction in serious injuries and fatalities.
Jeanne has been connected to the outdoors since she was a young girl camping and fishing in the Rocky Mountains with her family. She currently spends time enjoying and sharing experiences with her young grandchildren when she is not traveling.
Bob is currently the executive director of Windsor County Mentors, a nonprofit organization supporting youth mentoring in local Vermont communities. His career passion has been imagining and creating youth and young adult national and community service programs in the out-of-doors. Following two years of service in the United States Peace Corps, Bob completed a master’s in public administration degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University where he was involved in hosting the first AmeriCorps national service conference. He joined the Student Conservation Association in 1994 as the Director of the New Hampshire Conservation Corps.
Over the next 20 years he played leadership roles in SCA’s Northeast, California-Southwest and Midwest regions. As Senior Vice President for Programs, he helped to lead SCA’s national program growth and revenue. He is proudest of having created six residential SCA AmeriCorps programs that have provided hundreds of young people with an opportunity to serve on public lands.Bob joined the Vermont Conservation Corps in 2015 where he served as chief Operations Officer strengthening program quality, risk management and developing educational outcomes.
He served six years as a board member of National Association of Service and Conservation Corps now the Corps Network.Bob attended the University of New Hampshire after which he worked for United States Senator Warren Rudman (R-New Hampshire) on Capitol Hill, in Washington, DC.
He served in the United States National Guard and Reserve.
Bob lives in South Pomfret, Vermont with his wife Philippa Richards and their three children, Claire, Will and Ian plus a barn yard of animals.
Mark came to ACE in 2011 as the winner of a nationwide search for a trainer with multipe years of technical trails experience with land management agencies. Mark spent 4 years learning dry stone manonry and trail construction technique with the US Forest Service in Lake Tahoe, 4 more years leading Youth Conservation Corps crews and refining rock working skills as a member of the trail crews at Grand Tetons National Park and Saguaro National Park, and participated in a trail crew exchange with the Argentina Park Service.
George joined ACE in 2017 as an AmeriCorps and US Forest Service Program Manager. Prior to joining ACE, George spent 10 years working with non-profits in various capacities, including leading trail crews along the Pacific Crest Trail and in the Central Wasatch, coordinating individually placed environmental interns in the northwest, guiding youth leadership development as far as Peru, and even stacking books at the local library. Most recently, George ran operations for a local non-profit which works closely with land management organizations to fill the needed void in stewardship and education programs in the extremely busy Cottonwood Canyons of Salt Lake City. Perhaps more interesting than his work experience, George can often be found exploring on foot or by boat, and enjoys reminiscing of adventures gone awry, or of his 11-month residency in a tree house in Southern Washington.
Chris has an extensive background in conservation and resource management, most recently spending the past six years with the Student Conservation Association in a variety of roles. As Vice President of Partnership, his responsibilities included program and partnership development, government relations, and staff management.
Originally from England, Chris took the opportunity after university to come to the United States and work for the US Forest Service in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Oregon. Subsequently, Chris moved to Arizona and spent 8 years working for the City of Phoenix operating outdoor recreation programming for youth and people with disabilities, before moving back to
Oregon taking the position of Recreation Manager for Oregon State University, College Forests, in Corvallis Oregon, Chris holds degrees from Writtle College, England in Rural Resource Management, and Arizona State University in Recreation Management.
Before joining ACE, Randy spent the last fourteen years with the Student Conservation Association in various management and operations roles. During his time with SCA, he oversaw program development, financial management, compliance, and risk management for upwards of ten regional urban conservation programs. This included development and management of a state-wide workforce development program with the State of Pennsylvania. He also emerged as member and leader trainer on topics such as member experience, risk management, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Before the glow of the conservation world drew him in, Randy spent time with Job Corps recruiting and placing participants. Prior to that he spent three years as a Child Life Specialist providing psychosocial care to children at a teaching hospital. With close to twenty years of experience with youth and young adults through non-profits, he is thrilled to continue his career with an organization dedicated to conservation service. When away from his desk, you can find Randy coaching high school and youth sports and spending time outdoors with his wife and two daughters..
James joined the American Conservation Experience EPIC team in November 2014 as an Administrative and Office Assistant where he is great asset to the team with his conservation and technology background. He now supports the office as the Tech Support Specialist. James began his tenure with ACE as a OHV Trail Technician Intern with BLM where he designed and implemented strategies to maintain OHV trails. He then worked as a Backcountry Wilderness Trail team member in the high sierras building and maintaining wilderness trails.
Outdoor pursuits have always been central to my experience – from hiking trips through the National Parks as a child, to living off the grid in a yurt in Washington state, I’ve always been very close to the land. The opportunity to work with ACE and promote the values of land stewardship I believe in is an opportunity I am very excited to pursue. I have a wonderful family – my wife Kaitlin is an extremely qualified sea kayaker, and my daughter, Emmy, is in training for all these activities. If you want to catch me when I’m not at work chances are I’ll be hitting the slopes in the cottonwood canyons, or looking for waves somewhere exotic, if I’m lucky.
Heather grew up in the deep south – Memphis, TN – with cotton fields surrounding her high school. After graduating, she moved to Flagstaff to pursue a degree in Mathematics. In college she ended up switching her major about 5 times, so like any early twenty something year old, she moved to Portland, OR to find what she was passionate about career-wise. Life led her back to Flagstaff, college goals changed to Accounting, her beautiful daughter Rosalie arrived and work took a turn to the dental industry. Still feeling that accounting/mathematics nudge, she joined the ACE finance team. Heather manages our Accounts Payables and all things credit card. Her work with ACE will help hone her Accounting skills so that she can finish her degree, once her daughter starts Kindergarten.
ACE is lucky to have recruited such a smart, organized and amazing finance-minded addition to our staff.
After spending 20 years in various roles with ADP in Seattle, I spent a couple years living on Maui working for the Pacific Whale Foundation running AP and Payroll. I relocated back to Arizona in 2016 and spent a year and a half running payroll for a commercial sign and lighting company in Tucson, and also spent some time working for the city of Tucson. I have always been an advocate for the environment, and an avid outdoorsman. I am pleased to bring my many years of accounting and payroll knowledge to ACE, and my goal is to bring an easier and more user friendly payroll process to all staff and interns.
When not at work I enjoy hiking, camping, skiing, snowshoeing and photography. I enjoy traveling and exploring our national parks.
Colin moved to Flagstaff from Northern New Jersey in 2006 to continue his education and enjoy the abundant opportunities to play in the outdoors. After graduating from Northern Arizona University in the winter of 2008 Colin began working with ACE as a crew leader the following summer. Following several successful seasons of leading trail crews throughout Arizona and Utah he moved into the newly developed Safety Coordinator position where he now performs risk management and training duties for all of ACE’s programs. In addition to his regular duties, Colin is a Wilderness Medicine instructor and licensed contractor for ACE. When not at work Colin is an active climber, mountain biker, boater, and disc golfer.
Laura Herrin joined ACE in 2018 as President and CEO.
Laura has a long tenure working in the youth conservation arena serving fifteen years with the Student Conservation Association in numerous roles, ultimately as the Senior Vice President for Program. In this role, Laura was responsible for all aspects of program and partnership development and implementation, risk management and safety, and organizational growth. In her tenure she implemented a number of initiatives including summer youth employment programs and conservation service programs for urban and underrepresented youth.
Most recently Laura worked with the Corps Network overseeing fund development and partnerships for the membership organization supporting the work of more than 130 Service and Conservation Corps across the country.
Laura’s professional career has always been in the non profit space and includes work with Children Youth and Families as well as the US Ski Association.
Laura holds a bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College and a Master’s degree in Organizational Management and Leadership. Additionally, she is a certified black belt in Innovation Engineering.