During the summer of ’69, twenty students arrived at Great Smokey Mountains National Park ready to clear windfall damage in Cades Cove and build over 40 check dams to stop erosion with the Student Conservation Association. Steve Strachan was one of those students.
When Student Conservation Association (SCA) supporter and 1983 alumnus, Bob Kachinski, was fresh out of college, he went on what he describes as “a real adventure” by boarding a bus in Massachusetts for a three-day, three-night cross-country trip to rural Worland, Wyoming. Once at his destination, Bob was to start a three month SCA internship with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) as an assistant to a regional wildlife biologist.
“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.
Marty Talbot’s conservation credentials are seemingly endless: she’s an award-winning biologist, an accomplished author, and her pioneering research has spanned more than 50 years and 60 countries. Marty is also co-founder of SCA.
Today Steph Jeffries is a professor in the Forestry and Environmental Resources Department at North Carolina State University. In the summer of 1992, she was an SCA intern at Chugach National Forest in Alaska.
Her recent book, Exploring Southern Appalachian Forests, gives readers rich, ecological insights into 30 different popular hikes in the area. She supports SCA because she sees it “…transforming students all the time.”
When asked what ﬁrst inspired her interest in nature, award-winning wildlife photographer, Barbara Baird, said it was the ﬂash of blue from an eastern bluebird. As a young girl, Barbara’s parents often took her family to visit parks just outside of Chicago, and it was on one of these trips that she encountered an eastern bluebird for the ﬁrst time - and it was love at ﬁrst sight. But, it wasn’t until Barbara spotted an indigo bunting many years later that she became a serious birder and wildlife photographer.
Great ways to celebrate Earth Day can include a walk in the park, attending a local Earth Day event, or even starting a local garden. However, to long-time SCA supporters, John and Patricia Case, every day is Earth Day.
Where conservation is concerned, John and Patricia feel strongly that, “People have a responsibility to protect open spaces and those who are able should support and contribute to these efforts”
“My dad is the driving force behind my desire to serve the planet. He was the one who took me to my ﬁrst National Park…”
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.
Louise Shelley of Washington, DC, is a generous SCA contributor who also donates her time, contacts, and considerable energy to advancing the cause of youth conservation service right in her own neighborhood – literally. Louise’s magniﬁcent backyard garden is a stone’s throw away from the Battery Kemble unit of Washington DC’s Rock Creek Park.
“My mom stimulated our love of nature,” says Kim Medley, a professor of geography at Miami University of Ohio. “I have so many memories of amazing family camping trips and how happy we were on them.”
So it wasn’t much of a surprise in 1977 when Kim, then a college sophomore, took an SCA internship as a backcountry ranger at Olympic National Park. “The ﬁrst time in I thought I was going to die! Ten days of supplies – it was a haul,” she recalls.
Charley Dickey began his path with SCA as a high school volunteer serving at Olympic National Park in 1965. Today, almost ﬁfty years later, Mr. Dickey remains committed to SCA’s mission spending years as a member of SCA’s Board of Directors. He continues to work towards giving more young people the opportunity to gain hands-on service through SCA.
A key part of the SCA member experience is learning about conservation ethics, citizenship and being of service. But what happens after the SCA hitch, that summer of service or that awesome internship?