Alumni Name: Casey Fellhoelter
Dates Served: April 2019 – January 2020 and June 2020 – October 2020
What roles was Casey in: Crew Member ACE Southeast, Recreation Technician Eldorado National Forest ACE EPIC
Location: Asheville NC and Georgetown CA
Q: What were you doing before ACE?
I was finishing up my bachelors at the University of Tennessee a few months before I joined ACE.
Q: How did you hear about ACE?
I had a few friends that had served with Americorps and recommended I look into it. ACE looked like a great opportunity for me to work outside and start to develop a career working in the outdoors.
Q: Walk me through your time at ACE – What was your favorite aspect of being an ACE Crew member?
I have served with ACE for a total of 13 months over 3 separate terms. I loved working in incredibly beautiful places with awesome people improving our public lands. I really felt I was making a difference and was having a blast doing it. There were definitely some tough days out in the field but the people and the end results of our projects made it all worth it.
Q: What was it like living in Asheville, NC? Any favorite activities? Hikes? What did you do on your off days?
Asheville is a great town to be in. There is always something to do in the city and the hiking and rock climbing just outside of town are hard to beat. During my off days I was out climbing at Looking Glass Rock, Linville Gorge, Ship Rock, and Rumbling Bald. I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of all the great climbing NC has.
Q: Did you have a favorite project? Why?
Hard to say.. I was able to work on some awesome projects during my time with ACE. I really loved working on the Trillium Gap trail in the Smokies in particular. We had a top notch crew and I learned a ton while working with the park service. Working in El Yunque National forest in Puerto Rico was definitely a highlight as well. I had the privilege to see an incredibly biodiverse tropical forest and experience the amazing culture of Puerto Rico.
Q: What is ACE Eastern culture? How do you feel you participated in that culture?
ACE Eastern has a great culture. I think this branch is unique because it is the only base ACE has east of the Mississippi. You could be on hitch in the mountains just a short drive from Asheville, on a barrier island off the coast of Georgia, or way up in the White Mountains in New Hampshire. I don’t think any other ACE branch comes close to covering the area the eastern branch does. Crews would always be exchanging stories when we would arrive back at the Caribou house.
Q: In what ways did ACE shape your life personally and professionally?
ACE introduced me to an incredible set of friends and was my first real introduction into the world of conservation. I am very proud of the work I did while serving with ACE and I hope to continue to work to improve our public lands.
Q: How long have you been an ACE Alumni? Where are you now?
I have been an ACE alumni for 4 months now after finishing up an ACE EPIC position in Eldorado National Forest in California. I am now back in nearby Knoxville Tennessee applying for jobs and gearing up for the upcoming field season.
Q: What are some of your favorite extracurricular activities?
I love any kind of outdoor adventure but I am especially keen to climbing to the top of big rocks and walking really far into the woods to go to sleep.
Q: If a prospective ACE member were to ask you what the benefits of joining ACE are, what would you say?
You’ll meet some awesome people, see beautiful places, eat your body weight in pub mix, work your butt off, develop skills to help start a career in the outdoors, get into the best shape of your life, spend half your living stipend at Foggy’s, laugh til your sides really start to hurt, and become an expert at cooking with trail spice.
What a great guy and an awesome program!