“Something different” is what Jessica Aronson Cook was looking for when she ﬁrst joined the Student Conservation Association (SCA) as a Canyonlands National Park intern. Little did she know she would ﬁnd her future career and life-long friends.
Growing up in Houston, Stacey Kinney says she only saw ducks on oﬃce park ponds. Now, here she was at Coldwater River National Wildlife Refuge in Lambert, Mississippi, netting and banding them by the dozen.
“Getting one of those little silver bands on is not easy,” Stacey declares. “The ducks start ﬂapping like mad and don’t even listen when you tell them to calm down!”
Davon Goodwin had already made a range of contributions – and sacriﬁces – before he joined SCA. An Army veteran, he’d pulled extended tours of Iraq and Afghanistan; in the latter, an improvised explosive device ﬁred shrapnel into his brain and shattered two vertebrae. Davon says recovering from his wounds was nearly as daunting as recovering his focus.
“I’d lost my sense of purpose,” he recalls. “For a lot of soldiers, there’s no mission anymore. You get that sense of, ‘okay, what do I do now?’”
Yellowstone National Park contains more than 1,100 miles of trail and among the most impressive is the one blazed by Dr. Mary Meagher. A ﬁrst-year SCA alumna (Olympic NP, ‘57), Mary is widely credited with paving the way for women scientists in the park service. “Agencies did not hire women at that time, at least with my training and interests,” she says. “That’s just how things were.”
The diary of the ﬁrst-ever SCA crew tells of “15 young woodsmen” who built a new trail along the Elwha River in Olympic National Park, “swapped yarns” and vied in “glissading marathons” in their off-time. Then 16-year old Eliot Putnam started his journal exactly 57 years ago today. Eliot would go on to travel the world with the Peace Corps, CARE, Pathﬁnder International and the National Council for International Health (where he served as president) promoting family and reproductive health programs in developing countries.
Since a 2009 SCA internship at Shenandoah National Park, Don Macänlalay has gone on to do social media for The Nature Conservancy, the largest environmental nonproﬁt in America, and one of the most trusted. He began at their national headquarters in Arlington, VA , focused on Tumblr and Instagram, but soon moved on to managing all social media for their Washington state oﬃce in Seattle.
I had two job offers for the summer before my junior year of high school, and I went for the one that came with new boots. The job was with Student Conservation Association (SCA), a program that offers youth the opportunity for real jobs in the conservation ﬁeld.
This year the Northwest Community program is celebrating 30 years of community programming and conservation service to the Puget Sound area. We’re reaching out to our SCA members throughout our history to reconnect and ﬁnd out where they’re at today. This conversation is with Jesse Alton, ‘93-‘96 Seattle Community Program alum and crew leader ‘04.
Jesse is pictured above; 2nd from right with the crew he co-led at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in 2004.
This year the Northwest Community program is celebrating 30 years of community programming and conservation service to the Puget Sound area. We’re reaching out to our SCA members throughout our history to reconnect and ﬁnd out where they’re at today. Our ﬁrst conversation is with Qiana Patterson, ‘93 Seattle Community Program alumna and now Chief Operations Oﬃcer at Edlio, a Los Angeles based educational software platform provider.
In 1976, as a high school junior, Ellen Tohn ﬂew from New York to California to join an SCA trail crew in Yosemite National Park. The airline lost her luggage – but Ellen found her calling.
Following another hitch with SCA, degrees at Cornell and MIT, and years of work in environmental policy, today Ellen is a nationally recognized expert in housing-based environmental health threats, indoor air quality and lead poisoning prevention.
Callahan Mayer-Marks is 17 and hails from Tacoma Parks, MD. She served on a community crew last year but ever since her older sister came back from a national crew with some amazing pictures from Oregon, Callahan has wanted to venture further from home. Based on her letter below, this will not be her last SCA experience:
On the third weekend of October of this year, the Outdoor Nation San Francisco Summit brought together young outdoorsmen from all over the US to encourage them to lead their peers off of the couch and into the foliage. SCA’s Alumni Council gathered at the event to play a special role: Highlighting the fact that an active outdoor lifestyle is the perfect precursor to a career in conservation.