Written by Leah Duran, SCA ’09, ’10 alum, and sent to SCA in early 2011. Leah was a 2010 Follow Me blogger and a recent addition to the SCA alumni council.
Thank you. Thank you for the opportunity to work in beautiful places with amazing people. Thank you for the chance to learn about and practice creating community and taking care of the earth. Thank you for the best 10 months of my life at SCA Massachusetts. Thank you for opening new worlds of possibility, including new relationships and career paths.
I recently accepted a GS-4 permanent park guide position at Lassen Volcanic National Park in California. It would not have been possible without the continued support of so many people in the organization over my past two years of service.
I intend to be a lifelong supporter of the SCA, by donating, promoting the SCA, and by living a life true to the vision of caring for the land and each other. Thank you for everything. You’ve made a huge positive difference in my life.
SCA has been a proud partner of AmeriCorps since the latter was founded in 1993. Each year, thousands of SCA members serve America’s public lands in collaboration with AmeriCorps. These young people make crucial contributions in protecting and preserving natural, cultural and historic sites across the country, and their service strengthens parks and communities, builds experience, and generates jobs.
Congress is considering a bill that would eliminate funding for national service programs like AmeriCorps. Please share this powerful video about the importance of national service programs like AmeriCorps. Help save AmeriCorps by spreading the word. Tell Congress to grow, not gut, national service opportunities for young Americans.
Written by guest blogger Monica Patel '11. Monica is a two-time SCA intern who's worked on developing wilderness stewardship plans in four different US parks and refuges. Monica's story was first featured in the Fall 2011 Green Way newsletter.
As 2011 comes to end, I look back at a year of travel, challenges and learning opportunities in wilderness stewardship. After I finished my first fellowship at Buffalo National River in Arkansas early this year, I headed eastward settling back into my New Jersey roots, but not for long. Another opportunity with SCA quickly knocked on my door. This time I would be working with U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS), as one of the nine Wilderness Fellows in another wilderness stewardship program.
My first experience as an SCA intern was with the National Park Service. It provided extensive background in wilderness stewardship and an understanding of how a federal agency operates. I was tasked with developing a wilderness stewardship plan for the Buffalo National River. The challenge this time around would be completing a similar task at three National Wildlife Refuges (NWR) within the same six-month time frame. Challenge accepted!
Each wilderness area is unique in its own right but two of the wilderness areas I was stationed at are nestled within the most heavily developed state of New Jersey. I started my summer at Great Swamp NWR in New Jersey. Summer turned into fall as I explored the enchanting lush balsam fir forest of Moosehorn NWR in Maine, as the sunrays peeked through the dense canopy, illuminating life on the forest floor. And just as the brilliant fall colors peaked in the eastern-most corner of the U.S., I headed to the southern reaches of New Jersey to E.B. Forsythe NWR, where I am currently finishing up my fellowship.
Just as in Buffalo National River, the staff was keen on providing new learning opportunities, such as mourning dove banding, wilderness trail maintenance, and shoreline surveys. As I worked at each of these refuges, I refined the skills I acquired during my time in Arkansas to successfully produce a monitoring strategy that will guide wilderness stewardship at each refuge. The issues vary from a 36,000 acre-park to refuges a fraction of that size; from an area in rural Arkansas to an area enclosed by a sea of development. But I was still able to build upon my communication skills and diverse experiences to effectively tackle wilderness issues at each of the refuges.
This entire year, I've been able to build of previously acquired knowledge to to successfully accomplish present challenges. This reminds me of a recent hikeI was ready to embark on, when a concerned Refuge Manager inquired whether I knew how to use a map and compass. I cracked a smile as I recalled my first wilderness hike at Buffalo National River. When I was lost, exhausted and afraid, I learned how to use a map and compass. I gave a firm "yes" and knew the experiences I've gathered will continue to bolster my future pursuits.
So it has been 2,461 miles since I left Arkansas, and my journey with SCA and land stewardship continues. And I realize that 2011 has been an amazing year for not only covering distances but gaining concrete conservation skills and giving what I can to help steward our nation's wilderness areas.
Jeff co-founded Pick Up America after an idea he got during his SCA internship at Yosemite. As an intern, Jeff was hiking up Half Dome when he saw litter on the trail. Jeff realized that if there was litter on the trails of Yosemite, then the rest of America’s roads must be in even worse condition.
Jeff and his friends decided to do something about it. They began Pick Up America, a three-year zero waste education project. They are walking across America picking up trash and educating people on the connection between consumption and conservation. Jeff and his friends strongly believe that we are all responsible for the health and destruction of our planet. As you can see from the video, they are putting their words into action.
SCA is thrilled to announce the following winners for our 2011 Got Dirt? Photo Contest. These photos inspired us in one way or another to get out and enjoy nature. Thank you to the more than 6,000 entries we received.
Grand Prize winner: Denis Dessoliers, "Morning"
It was sprinkling when I was driving up to Clear Lake, Colorado. I was concentrating on the road ahead because the terrain was very rough, steep and narrow, just enough for one vehicle. As I was looking back through my rear mirror, to my surprise, a rainbow appears on the other mountain of Silverton, Colorado. I just couldn't let this opportunity pass by so I immediately stopped the car and took this shot.
2nd Place Winner: Don Holland, "Eagle Aerobatics"
The male bald eagle left its perch high in the nest tree, a loblolly pine. In order to enter the nest, it was necessary to re-enter the tree since the branches prevented it dropping down. The bird's athleticism allowed it to make a tight turn into the nest. The nest is the only eagle nest on Shiloh National Military Park grounds.
3rd Place Winner: Jill Klasen, "Sunset Sillies"
Aleska Petersons, Puddle Jumping
This picture was taken at a park in Lake Zurich, Il. I was shooting my friend and her two kids. I told her 3 year old to just go have fun in the mud. This picture captures how fun puddles in the park can be.
Kimberley Martin, "Confidential Commune"
I photographed myself in the wild mustard flowers that were over taking the hill behind a local park. The flowers and I were having a deep and private discussion.
Huntington Beach, California.
Eden Hassett, "Three-sixty"
To scroll through all the photo entries, visit the photo contest website.