The Leader Team Program is a new SCA program model that is primarily focused on fulfilling SCA’s mission to create the next generation of conservation leaders. Successful completion of this program qualifies a member to serve as an SCA leader themselves, ideally immediately following the Leader Team Program.
Leader Team Members will first work as part of the leader team for three months in the spring in one location, then (if they graduate) either: take on the Project Leader position for a larger, “standard” team of Corps members for the three-month summer team in that location, or take on a leader position for another SCA program.
The project for this leader team is the Army Corps of Engineers Visitor Use Survey Program (ACE VUS). This is a two-year-old SCA partnership that provides members a valuable opportunity to help the Army Corps of Engineers monitor the use of its beautiful recreational sites across the country. Teams will: collect, organize and download interview data; use a schedule of randomly selected sample sites for specific dates; collaborate with SCA leader and ACE staff; maintain proper care of supplies and equipment; and much more. The team will also design and carry numerous conservation projects and community service projects, both at the sites they are monitoring and elsewhere in the local community. This gives the members an opportunity to interact with project staff, develop their leadership skills, and leave a lasting impact in their community.
The spring survey season has been great. The Waco team has had the pleasure and opportunity to work with some amazing organizations that share in SCA’s passion and vision for conservation. A few of them made lasting impressions during the season; here are two that stood out. Jay, a Habitat for humanity staff member. He loved talking about how he got involved with working for Waco Habitat for Humanity; we enjoyed his sense of humor and the different stuff he had to talk about. Later on the team visited the Waco lakes Wetlands, where we met the one and only Nora Schell. She knows a lot about the Waco Lake wetlands plus, she is an experience Park Ranger. Nora was a great person to work with for conservation projects. If you happen to be in Texas this summer you should definitely check out the Waco lake wetlands and volunteer at Habitat for Humanity.
04/29-05/01 Teaching Annie to Swim
This week the team enjoyed a few days off. Stacy and Josh taught Annie how to swim. She learned proper swimming and breathing techniques for swimming on top of the water and she learned how to back stroke and tread water. This activity was super fun for the entire team, plus Annie turned out to be a good swimmer.
05/02-05/03 Conservation Day
Today the team took a trip to Austin, Texas to complete Stacy’s last conservation project. The members participated in an all-day kayak training course with Kim Sorensen, Guide and Field Educator of The Expedition School. The trip was just what the doctor ordered for our hard working team. We learned to kayak up and down the San Marcos River! Kayaking was a first for some of the team members, so we started with a few training lessons before getting into the water. We received an introductory paddle lesson. The paddling techniques were really cool and could even save your life, if performed correctly during a bad situation. During our stay in Austin, we also visited the Texas State History Museum. The museum was full of cool displays and facts about the different people who, helped to shape the state of Texas for us today. After the team explored the museum we headed to San Antonio, were we did some site seeing on the River Walk and took pictures of the Alamo. Austin and San Antonio are great places to plan for conservation projects and the team enjoyed touring the city.
This week Annie and Stacy took the lead on writing weekly hitch reports, ERPs and JHAs for conservation projects. As the end of the week got closer Stacy took time out for WFR training while Josh and Annie spent a couple more days completed surveys. Annie spent her last surveying week at Belton and still-house Hollow Lake, while Josh interviewed visitors at Waco and Belton Lake for the last time.
05/10 conservation Day
The last conservation day of the spring season was spent learning about food conservation. Annie taught a lesson on food conservation and its importance to SCA. The members learned about preparing food and food hygiene. They received handouts and worksheets to help along with the lesson. After explaining and discussing the lesson on food conservation each member participated in a cooking activity, they made sweet potato pies using a family recipe that Annie provided. The pies were really tasty and the team did a great job.
Lastly, the trash pickup results are in and we have a winner! Congratulations to Leah of ACE VUS Atlanta! Leah cleaned up 19 pounds of trash and 32 pounds of recycling from her survey sites, winning the cleanup competition. Michael and Clayton of Atlanta also put up impressive numbers, helping Atlanta also take the team competition beating out Nashville and Waco. Thank you to all team members for participating and helping the spring 2013 ACE VUS keep up over 100 pounds of trash out of Army Corps lakes! Way to go Leah, Michael, and Clayton for being the trashiest team around!
The spring season has taught us a lot about leadership.Through the leadership opportunities and conservation projects, we were enabled to develop in our comfort in leading each other. We as individuals hope to learn and grow more as we take on new leadership roles this summer. Stacy will be continuing her season here in Waco, Texas. She will have all new team members to explore Texas with. Josh will be heading back to Tulsa, Oklahoma with his Team of newbies, and Annie will be leading a National Crew in California at Yosemite National Park.
UPDATE: Josh's trash finally got picked up! Josh spent a day picking up some larger items at one of his sites (with the help of one Mr. Alex Olsen), including a couch, a love seat, box springs for a bed, 12 tires, mysteriously empty suitcases, fencing, boat parts, a fertilizer, and bags full of bottles, cans, and other roadside trash. Josh's totals did not count at the time of the initial announcement because the trash, although reported, was too much to remove alone and had not yet been picked up by park staff. Due to not wanting to take away Leah's hard earned title, or leave Josh's hard work unrecognized, these two may need to settle who the trashiest person is once and for all at summer training!
The past two weeks have been very transitional for the Waco team and they both kicked off to a great start. The crew managed to attract a small fan base. They received big thanks for picking up trash at the survey sites from a few of the visitors at Temple’s Lake Park. Let’s all give Big ups, to team Waco for doing their part and kudos to Stacy for the big idea. Annie and Stacy transitioned back and forth as hitch leaders. Annie started her second conservation project for the season. Josh finished out group C of surveying for the season. Annie and Stacy completed group 2 survey rotation. The end of the current week marked our mid-season point which meant we would be expecting a visit from Alex Olsen, our program coordinator. Lastly, to ensure our visit with Alex went A ’okay! We made final revisions to our projects for the current and upcoming week.
4/15-4/18 Getting over the hump
The survey traffic has picked up quite a bit now that summer is around the corner. This week the team continues survey group 2. Stacy stayed at Waco Lake, where the park attendants offer you cold beverages, they’re always friendly. The animals are never too scared to show their faces. You can always count on the squirrels to wrestle with each other. The birds are always singing and the deer are never standing too far away. Josh surveyed at Stillhouse Hollow Lake. There is always and occasional hoopla going on, but for the most Part it is nice and quiet. Annie surveyed at Stillhouse and Belton lakes. The Lake view at Belton is very beautiful. It’s really cool to see the sunset over the lake during site break down on your late days.
4/19 Legacy River Foundation
Today the team drove to Arlington, Texas to work on a service project planned by Annie. They finished two seating benches that were donated to the Legacy River living Science center and they cut and removed green briar from the walking trail. The team members also received a history lesson on the foundation and learned how they use education to provide children and adults a way to explore the land around them.
4/20-4/23 Back down the hill!
As this week ended and the next week starts things slowly start to wine down a bit. Annie and Stacy finished out group 2 survey rotation and transitioned back into the original survey groups. Josh finished out survey group C. for the season. This gave him plenty of time to catch-up on paperwork for the team and run errands for the house.
We welcomed Alex Olsen, Ace Vus Program Coordinator. He was a nice addition to the team. Also we couldn’t wait to put him to work. When Alex arrived at the house, he was greeted by josh and Stacy. Annie met with them later that night. She got stuck in traffic on her way back from Arlington, Texas. The following day the crew had the opportunity to enjoy some great eats at Georges bar. They fed their bellies with some good southern cooking. Annie and Alex tried the famous chicken fried steak with all the fixins. Josh had a big ole juicy steak and Stacy mixed it up a bit with the veggie platter. After eating the team engaged in friendly conversations and headed home for the night.
4/24 Waco Wetlands here we come!
This project was a collaboration between Stacy stone and Annie Armstrong. The team headed to the wetlands for some good old fashioned lopping, weeding and berm repair. Stacy and Annie put Josh and Alex right to work, but not before explaining what to do first. The guys got a little lesson in ecology and tool safety before starting the projects. We all enjoyed the tour of the facility that Nora gave. She really knows her stuff. The team worked together to weed and lop all along the walking platforms throughout the wetlands. Alex got a game going that intrigued their imaginations. The name of the game they played is called, “Would you rather.” It’s a pretty cool game if you let your imagination run wild. The game is also great for playing in a working environment. We started off lopping and weeding with Stacy ended with the berm repair project. Today was a fun filled day even though it was a work day.
4/25-28 Current events, Dr. pepper Museum and The Mammoth Site!
Throughout the past two weeks we had couple of serious events take place. There was a terrible explosion in West, Texas, a city a few miles outside of Waco. A fertilizer plant blew up and lives were lost. Barack Obama, President of the United States of American visited Waco for that very reason. Baylor University held a memorial service on campus. The memorial was in honor of the 12 first responders who died while battling the fire that caused the explosion last week in West, Texas.
Even though there had been a lot of things going on in around the city of Waco, Texas. We ended our hitch on a good note. The entire team including Alex Olsen enjoyed some much needed down time. We checked out some of Waco’s cool tourist attractions. First we stopped by the Dr. Pepper Museum where we learned about Dr. Wade Morrison and Free Enterprise. We also quenched our thirsts with pepper shakes and soft drinks. After visiting at the Dr. Pepper Museum a few of the crew members Josh, Annie and Alex headed to the Waco Mammoth Site. They explored the fossils and engaged in a healthy conversation about man vs. nature. After visiting at the Mammoth site we said goodbye to Alex. He headed back to Boise, Idaho for leadership training stuff. The team also said goodbye to Josh, but not for good. He needed to take care of a few things in Tulsa, Oklahoma .He will return this coming Monday. All in all, the last two weeks have been pretty interesting and the crew looks forward to the weeks to come. Good job Team Waco, keep up the good work!
Okay, so this is Annie J. Armstrong in a nutshell! She is young at heart, because she is still growing into the adult she would like to be. She loves learning new things and is always up for a good challenge. Annie didn’t always know that working for the Student Conservation Association was something she really had a true passion for until the summer of 2012.
She had been through a lot career wise, and there were many things she wanted to work out for herself. She felt torn between becoming a better version of herself, working in an environment where she felt motivated, happy, and inspired, and between being unsettled with what she was doing. So, she applied for a Conservation Corps position hoping she could change her situation and start moving in a direction where she could grow, change, and excel on her own terms. After not hearing anything for a few months, Annie was finally offered and took a position on a Angeles National Forest Corps Crew in San Fernando, California. She accepted that offer and hasn’t looked back since. “Things always work out, just not on your time,” is what she says to people who aspire to be a better a version of themselves. "There is a higher power.”
Annie hopes to take on more responsibility in her leadership role with SCA this spring and summer. She wants to gain new skills that will continue to guide her throughout her professional development. Moreover, she is looking forward to all the new challenges the season has to offer. Annie will push herself out of her comfort zone and believes enough in herself to know she has what it takes to make this spring and summer one of the best she’s ever had.
4/1: Conservation Day
Today the team took some time to plan out future conservation days. A big part of the day was spent on the phone, email, and doing research to plan out the rest of the season. The plan paid off, so look for some great conservation projects in the next couple hitch reports!
Once again the team surveyed visitors to Waco, Belton, and Stillhouse Hollow Lakes. Things really picked up this weekend with so many families visiting the parks to celebrate Easter weekend, there were even a couple backups! We got a sneak peak of what summer season will look like, with visitors non-stop and and lines of cars. Everyone did a great job handling the traffic, and we probably set a Waco spring team record for our most surveys yet!
4/8-4/9: Survey Group 2
This week we switched things up! In an effort to keep the scenery interesting, and to let the whole team get to know all of our sites everyone switched survey groups this week. Annie and Josh will be spending their time at Belton and Stillhouse, while Stacy will be interviewing visitors to Waco and Belton Lake. It was a nice change of pace for the team, and everyone is excited to get to know some new sites and meet all the regular visitors (animal and human) we have heard so much about.
4/10: Conservation Day
For this week's conservation project the team volunteered with Waco Habitat for Humanity. We had the opportunity to do some work on a house for a local family in our own neighborhood. The house was pretty near completion, so it was exciting to work a house that would turn into a family's home so soon. We spent the day caulking anywhere air might leak through, installing outlet insulators and switch plates, and painting kitchen cabinets and the front door. It was a happy coincidence that we had the chance to do so many energy saving measures, giving us the opportunity to help that family practice conservation through home efficiency.
After a fun conservation day it was back to the grind! The team returned to their new sites for another couple days of surveying. The weekend crowd dwindled a little from the previous holiday weekend, giving the team a little time to relax and take in the scenery at some beautiful Texas lakes (check out Annie's lake photo's below and you'll see what we mean). This hitch also marked the start of one of Stacy's conservation projects, a Texas vs. Georgia vs. Tennessee site cleanup effort. All teams will spend a few minutes picking up trash at their sites (some really need it!) during setup or takedown, in a no holds barred competition to become the trashiest person and trashiest team of ACE VUS Spring 2013! The winner will be announced after hitch 4, so look for some serious bragging at that point. Annie also made some great recycling boxes for one of her projects, where we all do our best to recycle and reuse everything we can at home. The team also managed to squeeze in a little fun time to explore some unique Waco attractions like the downtown suspension bridge, the Waco Mammoth Site, the illustrious Texas Ranger Museum, and a free Eddie Money concert on the river. The town of Waco, Texas has earned some serious bonus points these last two weeks, and the team is looking forward to finding out what other hidden gems central Texas has to offer.
The Waco team will be working deep in the heart of Texas, surveying three lakes in the central Texas region. So far we have been to training in Nashville, where we learned a lot and made some great friends, explored the lakes, and just completed our first week of surveys and first conservation project.
Leaving training in Nashville was exciting and sad at the same time. Exciting, because we were about to embark on a new journey in Waco, sad because, we were leaving six new friends that would be missed dearly. We parted ways after joining in a family photo, exchanging words of wisdom, and one big group hug.
We finally made it to the lone star state of Texas, where the crew split up. Josh and Stacy took a connecting flight to Waco, where they would begin set up for the coming weeks of surveying. Annie headed to North Richland Hills, where she picked up a few supplies she would need for the season.
The next couple days involved trying to get settled into the team's new home. Rental cars were picked up, electricity was finally turned on, and supplies were gathered for the season. The crew visited the Waco Lake site contact, traveled to and evaluated each survey site location, and took inventory of all supplies. The team also completed important paperwork like site ERP’s, JHA’s, and are currently familiarizing themselves with all of the responsibilities of leading the ACE VUS Team of 2013.
Annie and Stacy completed their first ever visitor use survey! Annie surveyed visitors to Waco and Belton Lake, Stacy spent her time at Stillhouse and Belton, and Josh interviewed visitors to Waco and Stillhouse. Annie spent her Tuesday surveying visitors at two of Waco Lake's parks, while Josh and Stacy spent the day at Baylor University. Baylor hosted a “Make a Difference Career Fair” aimed at students looking to enter the non-profit career field after graduation. Stacy and Josh spent the afternoon talking to students about the opportunities SCA has to offer, and had a great time meeting Baylor staff while finally having an excuse to check out the campus. Wednesday it was back to surveying for the team.
Thursday was the first conservation day for Team Waco, and was used to plan and coordinate future conservation projects throughout the season. After spending so much time setting up the site, all of Team Waco was pretty grateful to have a planning day and excited to see projects start to come together.
3/29- 3/30 Survey
Kathy, one of our partners from the Army Corps of Engineers, came to observe our sites we all enjoyed time spent with her surveying. All of the Texas team spent Saturday in the field, and had their first look at what weekends are like in the area. Visitor traffic picked up a lot today, and the team was able to complete the most surveys to date!
Originally from Tempe, Arizona, Stacy left the sonoran desert for southern California to attend California Lutheran University (CLU). While there she received her B.S. in Environmental Science with a minor in Biology. Throughout her time spent at CLU, Stacy began to appreciate both the field and research aspects of her degree, spending time pretty evenly split between leading an inorganic marine pollution research program and attending wildflower hikes in the chaparral. This love of knowing how natural systems work, and wanting to see them in action, lead Stacy to the SCA.
Stacy first served as a member of the Native Plant Corps, in both Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Cowpens National Battlefield, restoring native ecosystems. These experiences solidified her love of conservation work, living and working in the outdoors, and of course the SCA. Most recently she spent a year working throughout the state of Connecticut to the help communities reduce energy use and implement residential and municipal efficiency projects.
Stacy hopes to bring her love of botany and restoration work to her team, as well as put her community outreach experience to good use. She is looking forward to living deep in the heart of Texas and exploring a new area. She also hopes to gain leadership skills that will enable her to lead a summer team and create fun and meaningful experiences for the next round of conservationists.
Okay, so this is Annie J. Armstrong in a nutshell! She is young at heart, because she is still growing into the adult she would like to be. She loves learning new things and is always up for a good challenge. Annie didn’t always know that working for the Student Conservation Association was something she really had a true passion for until the summer 2012. She had been through a lot career wise, and there were so many things she wanted to work out with herself. She felt torn between becoming a better version of herself and being able to work in environment where she felt motivated, happy and inspired instead of being content and unsettled with what she was doing. So, she applied for a Conservation Corps position listed on the Student Conservation Association website hoping she could change her situation around and start moving into a direction where she could grow, change and excel on her own terms. After not hearing anything for a few months she decided maybe it wasn’t going to happen for her with SCA at time. She was going to have to try other places to start her journey towards personal and professional success. Being the person that she is, she never gives up and never takes no as never going to happen. She always says, “Things don’t happen on my clock, there is a higher power.” With that said, as she so anxiously walked out of the admissions office of her College where she had just enrolled into summer classes towards completing her Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Management. Annie received a phone call. On the other end was an interview/selections Coordinator. She was calling on the behalf of the SCA to offer Annie a position as a crew member on a Conservation Corps Crew. The Crew would be working in the Angeles National Forest in San Fernando California. The representative went on to tell Annie that the work would be challenging and there were plenty of trainings to help prepare her for the job if she chose to accept. Of course Annie turned the offer down, just kidding! She happened to accept that offer and hasn’t looked back since. “Things always workout just not on your time,” is what she says to people who aspire to be a better a version of themselves.
She hopes to take on more responsibility in her leadership role with SCA this spring and summer. Annie wants to gain new skills that will continue to guide her throughout her professional development. Moreover, she is looking forward to all the new challenges the season has to offer. Annie will push herself out of her comfort zone and believe enough in her to know she has what it takes to make this spring and summer one of the bests she’s ever had.
A native of Tulsa, OK, Joshua came to the SCA having graduated from the University of Oklahoma, where he earned his B.S. in Geographic Information Science and his Minor in Meteorology. As an undergraduate, Joshua was an active leader of his peers, involved in activities at both the university and state level. During his last year of study and briefly after graduating, Joshua also worked as a research assistant within a university laboratory where he modeled the primary productivity of agroecosystems. This work exposed Joshua to the world of intensive academic research, a previously unknown love of his.
Now, having several presentations, coauthorship of a book chapter, and a published, peer-reviewed paper under his belt, Joshua is ready to help expose individuals to the conservation opportunities in central Texas before he continues with postgraduate study. The ACE VUS Leader Team will be Joshua's third program with the SCA. Previous programs he participated in are the 2012 ACE VUS program in Tulsa, OK and a Leader Team partnering with the BLM in NM.
When not learning, writing, and researching, Joshua enjoys kicking a ball at the local soccer pitch, running through mud and dirt where ever he might find it, and helping out his family, friends, and community with any little task he can put his hands to. And much of that is exactly what his goal is this season. Getting his team dirty, working hard, and gaining some hands on field experience in a setting they'll love is what Joshua is looking forward to the most!