466 West Hawley Road
Plainfield, MA 01070
SCA Massachusetts, in partnership with AmeriCorps and the Massachusetts Service Alliance, is currently in its sixteenth year of programming. This program partners with the Department of Conservation and Recreation to teach youth about the environment and to complete high priority conservation projects across the Commonwealth.
In October, 17 corps members arrived at the Kenneth Dubuque State Forest and began working at local schools to teach environmental education and standards-based science, plan service learning projects, and assist various nonprofits in the area.
In March, the crew will grow to a corps of 26 to embark on conservation work from new trail construction to building bridges to removing invasive species at parks and forests across Massachusetts.
Over the course of the 10-month program, the SCA Massachusetts corps members will teach and mentor over 1,000 students and complete over 60 high priority conservation service projects. The positive impact that their work will have on the land and people's lives, including their own, will be unquantifiable.
Emily is from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. She majored in Environmental Sciences and minored in French at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is interested in water quality and the issue of drinking water. She has interned at the Woods Hole Research Center, studying the coastal pond Oyster Pond. She has measured many water quality parameters on Oyster Pond, including water temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, absorbance, as well as nutrients such as carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus. Emily has also been a camp counselor for 6 summers with children ages 6-13, and she has worked as a Resident Assistant for two years working to build community and educate college students living in the residence halls. Emily loves hiking, swimming, and biking. In her spare time she also loves photography. One day Emily hopes to improve water in ecosystems as well as find ways to provide potable water for people.
After graduating from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a Bachelors Degree in Wildlife Conservation, Ryan Pennesi is excited to be an environmental educator and crew leader with the SCA Massachusetts Forests and Parks Americorps program this year. Ryan grew up in Central Massachusetts, where he discovered his passion for nature and all wild things. During the past summer he worked as a residential crew leader for the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps and lived in the Green Mountains of Vermont for 7 weeks! In addition to trail work, Ryan has worked as a Tour Guide, Animal Handler, and Presenter for Animal Adventures Exotic Zoo and Rescue Center. He has had the opportunity to wrestle American Alligators, feed baby Coatis, scratch behind the ears of a Canadian Lynx, and play with Ring-tail Lemurs! Ryan is passionate about animals and would love to share stories about his experience as a zoo employee. On a typical day you may find Ryan exploring the forest, playing soccer, throwing the disk with friends, or playing some jazz on his trumpet.
Brenna Taylor is a 23-year-old Northeast Ohio native, exploring Western Massachusetts for the first time. After a sweaty and pontoon-filled three months with the SCA and the Army Corps of Engineers in Nashville, Tennessee, she is happily moving onto the SCA Massachusetts Parks program. Since graduating from Hiram College in 2011, Brenna has taught art to preschoolers, worked and lived on a small herb farm, and taught farm and gardening classes at a summer camp. She loves to laugh, bike, learn and explore new places. She’s looking forward to exploring the great Hawley frontier with her new family of dynamic and beautiful people, as well as engaging and sharing her love for the outdoors with the local kiddos.
Alex Nawrot is a New Jersey native who recently graduated from Boston University with a degree in Environmental Science. She has worked as a children's program coordinator at Rutgers University's Botanical Garden where she organized a community vegetable garden for local urban youth groups. She also spent a summer as a research assistant at an agricultural research farm specializing in pepper and tomato hybrids. Her current interests include water resource management and bio-remediation. Alex plans on attending graduate school and continuing her education in water diplomacy.
Lauren grew up the woods of northern Michigan and graduated from the University of Michigan in 2011 with an environmental degree. After graduation, she worked as a Teacher Assistant at the Greenspire School, a middle school focused on project-based learning and the environment. During the past three summers she was an Interpretive Park Ranger at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, where she particularly enjoyed working with school groups and Junior Rangers. She is passionate about the environment and loves being outdoors. Some of her favorite activities are backpacking, skiing, traveling, photography, cooking and running.
Brooke Mueller is from Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. She recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire with a comprehensive major in Ecology and Environmental Biology. She has taken many classes to learn about plants, involving identifying, understanding their distribution, and their anatomy. Over the course of the summer she had an internship at the Cape Cod National Sea Shore as a coastal forest monitoring intern. She has also enjoyed the classes she has taken classes in the physiology of birds and mammals. The section on birds was most interesting to her and she has since taken a class on and has done her own birding. All of the classes she has taken involving biology and dealing with the environment have fed her excitement of the outdoors. Every since she was little, she has loved being outside and has found enjoyment in sharing that feeling with others.
Isaac Arndt is from western Michigan. He graduated two years ago from Michigan State with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and geography. He is interested in teaching people about the great outdoors, and has experience in teaching inner city kids about nature. During the last three years, Isaac has spent two years teaching a youth group at a local church, helping out with three mission trips and leading a group of middle school kids on a nature walk. He is interested in challenging himself to teach younger kids, since most of his background is with grades 7-12.
Katie Avery was raised in Oakland, California and Lugano, Switzerland.
Growing up, she spent a lot of time hiking, camping and skiing with her family, forming an appreciation of the outdoors and wild spaces. Her
interest in environmental conservation began while volunteering in her
high school’s Living Laboratory for her environmental science class. After graduating from the University of California with a degree in Anthropology she traveled through South East Asia, working on organic farms along the way. She is excited to begin working to inspire in children the same love and respect for nature that she developed as a child.
Emmet Pruss was born and raised in rural mid-Michigan and is excited for the opportunity to now live and work within the communities of Northwest Massachusetts. He is 22 years old and graduated from the University of Michigan last winter, where he studied English Literature and Environmental Studies. Emmet has had various experiences living, learning, and teaching in field settings focused on humanities and the environment. Most recently, he spent the summer of 2012 working with the Appalachian Mountain Club in New Hampshire, where he served as “Summer Naturalist” for the high mountain hut on Mt. Madison. He functioned partly in this capacity by hosting nightly presentations and nature walks for both children and adults focused on enriching their understanding of the ecology, history, and population of the surrounding area. Emmet is eager to gain additional experience teaching in a more formal setting, as well as in wearing snowshoes and cross country skis. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, reading, writing, and busied contemplation inside his hammock.
Danielle Bilecki is a recent Graduate from the State University of New York at Geneseo, with a major in Psychology and a minor in Environmental Science. She loves hiking, backpacking, kayaking, dancing and laughing. This is her second stint with the SCA, her previous being with a trail crew in Virginia where she did a great deal of rock work. Not only is she excited to get her hands dirty with some more trail projects, she is also pumped to start instilling a love for the out-of-doors in the classroom!
Kyle Plummer is a recent graduate from Denison University with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and a minor in Geosciences. He loves camping and backpacking, gardening, bicycling, cooking, reading, and playing guitar. Kyle is eager to begin his work helping young people develop a passion for the earth, an attachment to their environment, and a love of science.
Last week, our 17 SCA Massachusetts AmeriCorps members visited their 10 school placements and 4 internships to observe, introduce themselves, begin to get to know the students, and play games.
From December until March, the members will be spending their weeks teaching science and environmental education to 3 year olds up to 14 year olds, engaging the students in service learning projects, and leading afterschool programs. As one of our cooperating teachers said, "the corps members get to teach the way we [the teachers] which we could teach" with hands on lessons, outdoor experiences, games, and of course costumes!
Check out the latest SCA Massachusetts Newsletter and find out what the 2011-2012 crew has been doing: service learning projects, Boston Service Week, and more!
Bryan Blankenstein is in his fourth year as a program staff member, his third as Program Director. He has worked with SCA in many capacities over the past 11 years, including 7 years as a staff member with the Adirondack AmeriCorps Program, 1 year with the Idaho Residential Program and a few summers as a high school program crew leader. As Program Director Bryan oversees program budgets and assures that the program is meeting all SCA, partner, and AmeriCorps guidelines and expectations. Prior to SCA he worked as a carpenter for several years, and led backpacking, canoeing, climbing, and mountaineering trips for multiple organizations and private companies. Additional passions include writing, photography, cooking, reading and other creative outlets.
Jessica Harwood is in her fourth year as a program staff member and is responsible for coordinating the education placements and programs, overseeing education training, and supervising corps members in their education placements. Jessica studied Geology and Biology in college and has a Master’s in Education. She was a corps member in this program during the ‘02-‘03 season and has worked as an environmental educator, youth counselor, and classroom teacher. Jessica started a business delivering local food and coordinates a gleaning program. She has also led three high school trail crews and is a work skills instructor.
Melissa Patterson coordinates conservation training and the conservation service season. This is Melissa's fifth full year with the program. She was a crew leader for the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps and has worked for SCA as a Corps Member, Project Leader, Work Skills Instructor and Assistant Conservation Co¬ordinator prior to her current position. She has also worked as an educator and holds a teaching certificate. She received a B.A. in environmental studies from Allegheny College.
Vickie Leavitt is the Program Coordinator. She manages the kitchen and all things food-related, as well as overseeing the facilities and vehicles. This is Vickie's first year as a staff member at SCA Massachusetts. She previously led a national crew with SCA in the North Cascades of Washington. She has also taught marine science in southern California, was a wilderness therapy instructor in Utah, and worked as a head cook at Star Island. She has a B.S. in Outdoor Education from The University of New Hampshire.
Read about trail season adventures in our summer newsletter!
Read about the experiences of our corps members over the winter in Hawley, MA.
|SCA Massachusetts February 2010.pdf||490.04 KB|
|Wildlife in Hawley|
|Trail Work Skills Month|
|Winter Newsletter 2013|
|Hawley Summer Program Application|
|Special Thanksgiving service and education event at local school|
|The Corps Members Start School Service|
|2012 Conservation Season Newsletter|
|Winter 2012 SCA Massachusetts Newsletter|
|2011 Conservation Season Newsletter|
|Education Season Newsletter 2010-2011|
|Emily Michele Olmsted|
|Bryan Blankenstein, Program Director|
|Jessica Harwood, Education and Service Learning Manager|
|Melissa Patterson, Conservation Service Manager|
|Vickie Leavitt, Program Coordinator|
|SCA Massachusetts Works with 60 Volunteers at Squantum Point Park|
|Students at Sanderson Academy enjoy outdoor winter activities with AmeriCorps members|
|SCA Massachusetts Teaches Environmental Education in Springfield|