Traditional Trades Apprenticeship Program | Meet the Members

Written By Linnea McCarty

On February 24, 2021
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Join us in welcoming our first seven members of the 2021 Traditional Trades Apprenticeship Program (TTAP) cohort. These members will be at San Juan National Historical Park, Point Reyes National Seashore, and Pinnacles National Park! TTAP provides hands-on, historic preservation trade skills training during an intensive five-month learning-while-working experience. TTAP allows the important work of preserving cultural resources and crucial infrastructure of national park sites to be passed onto the next generation in a time when many employment fields are becoming obsolete through mechanization. Stay tuned for the introduction of the next six members of the 2021 TTAP cohort starting in April!

Ian Capper | Pinnacles National Park

I’m Ian Capper, trail worker, motorcycle enthusiast, believer in the way, and overall goofball and enjoyer of life in all of its complexity. I hail from Overland Park Kansas, I moved to California in spring 2017 to join the California Conservation Corps and began the best parts of my life then and haven’t stopped. Last season I worked with Pinnacles National Park on a trail crew because of how close it is to where I live and I heard about the TTAP program through my coworkers and boss Mark Donahue. I have extensive experience with chainsaw work, drystone masonry, general trail construction and maintenance, and some carpentry and other handyman skills. I’m definitely a hands-on person, I’ve always loved arts in the physical realm, Legos, painting, woodwork, engine maintenance, setting pinecones on top of rocks… I figured adding to my general skills through a trades program would help me expand the work I’m able to do and help me find more stable footing in my pursuit of a career. After the TTAP program my boyfriend and I will be jettisoning ourselves towards Seattle where we may have the ability to afford to exist less meagerly. I hope to find work with all the parks around and get into the backcountry in Olympic National Park because I miss it dearly. Backcountry work is my truest calling; I’ve never felt more alive nor whole than when hiking in the middle of the wilderness.

Spencer Martin James | Pinnacles National Park

Hello, my name is Spencer Martin James and I am 29 years old. I am from Sacramento, California and am serving with the Traditional Trades Apprenticeship Program (TTAP) at Pinnacles National Park. I was inspired to apply for TTAP because of the ease of the location where I moved to. I wanted to work for Pinnacles National Park prior to moving so this program was everything I was looking for when it was brought to my attention. I graduated high school in Elk Grove, California in 2010. My background and work ethic go well with TTAP. I was a busser for about 8 years. I learned to work as a team with co-workers and deal with customers. Then I worked for a construction company repairing houses and building new ones. I shadowed veteran construction workers in fixing housing appliances like toilets, sinks, showers as well as installing new drywall, painting, and plumbing. I even helped in demolishing and disinfecting old abandoned houses. I worked at a company called Greybar that specializes in shipping and receiving electrical materials and solar technology. Though it was short lived because of the covid layoffs, I had fun learning about the inventory and how to drive a forklift for the first time. If I had a goal with getting a degree, it would be to expand my knowledge of the different trades. I want to pursue a promising career working at Pinnacles National Park after completing TTAP. I honestly feel I have a lot to gain in learning the trades because of the essential skills I can learn and apply at home as well as a career I can work hard at and be proud of.

Carlos Diaz | San Juan National Historic Site

My name is Carlos Diaz and I am from Carolina, Puerto Rico. I am currently serving the TTAP program at the San Juan National Historic Site (SAJU) in Puerto Rico. What inspired me to seek this opportunity is the vast knowledge and new skills I’m going to learn on the run of this internship. I am a maritime mechanic graduate and certified diver with a passion for all environmental issues and nature conservation. I enjoy going to the beach and practicing all water activities possible, I make the most of living on a beautiful island! In the future, I would love to own my company, equally protecting and conserving underwater ecosystems, etc. After this internship, I want to continue learning and acquiring all the possible knowledge. I would love a job opportunity with the National Park Service or in El Yunque National Forest.

Keriann Victoria Velez | San Juan National Historic Site

Hello, my name is Keriann Victoria Velez and I am from San Juan, Puerto Rico. I’ll be serving with the National Park Service at San Juan National Historic Site with TTAP. As a Puerto Rican, I’ve always been fascinated with the site and having an opportunity to be part of a group that preserves the site is a dream come true. After high school, I was initially interested in serving in the U.S. Navy. I also have had experiences in various different fields including both administrative and outdoor jobs. I hope to become proficient in historic preservation and to be able to pursue a permanent career in that field.

Chad Mackie | Point Reyes National Seashore

My name is Chad Mackie, and I grew up in Corona, CA. In 2019, I graduated from University of California, San Diego with a Bioengineering degree. While I enjoyed my engineering coursework, my enthusiasm for plants, nature, and conservation became too much to ignore. After joining and thoroughly enjoying my service as a crew member for American Conservation Experience, I wanted to continue my trajectory towards a career in the broad field of natural resource management and National and State Park operations. Having enjoyed the drystone masonry work in my previous term with ACE, I sought out this TTAP program at Point Reyes National Seashore to add carpentry skills to my personal skill set. Also, I love the natural beauty of California, especially the Pacific Ocean and Northern Coast, so I couldn’t be more thrilled to be working at the beautiful Point Reyes National Seashore!

Kari Mishler | Point Reyes National Seashore

Hello! I am Kari Mishler from Kansas City, Missouri. I will be a traditional trades apprentice with the National Park Service at Point Reyes National Seashore this Spring. My background is in Art History, with a degree from Missouri State University. I became interested in Historic Preservation when I decided to look into career alternatives to museums and academia. I took a position with Northern Bedrock Historic Preservation Corps in Minnesota and spent four months living and working outside, and I enjoyed working with my hands, learning traditional trades, and growing my knowledge of historic architecture. After the apprenticeship, I hope to continue working with my traditional trades skills, but more in the art and architectural conservation realm to incorporate all of my interests and skills. In my free time, I like to go on hikes, explore cities looking at street art, and read about early 20th Century design.

Austin Richard | Point Reyes National Seashore

My name is Austin Richard and I will be a part of the Traditional Trades Apprentice Program at Point Reyes National Seashore working with the National Parks Service’s Historic Preservation Crew. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas and received my Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Texas at Austin in May 2019. After graduating, I worked as a lab technician for a couple of research labs at UT Austin’s Marine Science Institute in the small coastal town of Port Aransas, Texas. Beginning in January of 2020, I decided to take a break from lab life and began an AmeriCorps term in central California where I completed a variety of conservation, habitat restoration, and trails maintenance projects while working as a part of American Conservation Experience’s Conservation Crew. During my term, I cemented my passion for the conservation field and decided I would always want to pursue a career that required using my hands and being outdoors. After stumbling across the TTAP position, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to work outdoors while also developing new skills in carpentry, woodworking, and historical preservation. I’ve always admired the work of the National Parks Service, so having the opportunity to contribute to their work as well was a chance I couldn’t turn down. After the internship, I hope the experience will have given me the advanced carpentry and woodworking skills to help me pursue a career in parks maintenance, management, or historical preservation.

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