(ARLINGTON, VA) April 18, 2022 — They include a retired professor of environmental studies and a 16-year-old high school junior, a sea turtle expert and a senior sustainability planner, a park ranger and a presidential historian.

The Student Conservation Association (SCA), which is poised to place its 100,000th service member later this year, today introduced 10 Alumni Ambassadors who will represent the organization as it reaches this rare milestone, which also coincides with its 65th anniversary year.

“Every SCA member makes lasting contributions to our public lands and local communities,” states SCA President and CEO Stephanie Meeks. “And through their ongoing service and stewardship, SCA alumni help shape our world. As we approach the SCA100K mark, these 10 alumni stand as models of leadership and in tribute to all who advance America’s natural heritage.”

SCA is the nation’s first and leading youth conservation service organization, dedicated to building the next generation of conservation leaders. Meeks revealed the SCA Alumni Ambassadors as:

  • Grace Anderson, Oakland, CA. An independent consultant committed to building the capacity of people of color in the environmental space, Anderson was transformed by a 2012 SCA Alternative School Break experience at Joshua Tree National Park.
  • Valeria Casas, Houston, TX.  Casas is SCA’s Community Programs manager in Houston and one of numerous SCA alumni on staff. She first joined the organization at age 15 and today helps young SCA members forge lifelong connections with the outside world.
  • Pipa Elias, Washington, DC.  The deputy director of the Environment Program at the Walton Family Foundation, Elias was previously director of Agriculture for North America at The Nature Conservancy. She has served as an SCA intern, board member, and Alumni Councilor.
  • Nancy Fernandez, San Diego, CA. ​Fernandez is a park ranger specializing in communications with ​the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex. She served in numerous capacities with SCA and holds a B.A. in Anthropology from CSU Stanislaus.
  • Tom Hudspeth, Middlebury, VT. Professor Emeritus of Environmental Studies and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont, Hudspeth led a distinguished 43-year academic career following three SCA internships in the mid-1960s.
  • Alesha Jones, Pittsburgh, PA. A high school junior and four-time alumna of SCA’s Pittsburgh Program at age 16, Jones plans to return to SCA this summer, which would make her the sole active SCA member among the 10 Alumni Ambassadors.
  • Chris Setley, Washington, DC. Setley is a decorated Marine veteran and former intern to an assistant secretary of the Navy, who now works on developing advanced aircraft for the Navy, Air Force, Marines, and U.S. allies.
  • Dr. Donna Shaver, Corpus Christi, TX. Chief of Sea Turtle Science and Recovery for the National Park Service, Dr. Shaver began her career at Padre Island National Seashore as an SCA intern in 1980, where she remains today as one of the foremost authorities on sea turtle conservation.
  • Rob Thomas, New York, NY. Thomas is the senior sustainability planner the consulting firm AECOM, following several years as chief of energy and environment for the City of Newark. He led SCA crews in Newark in 2009 and remains a forceful program advocate.
  • Mark K. Updegrove, Austin, TX. Updegrove is president and CEO of the Lyndon B. Johnson Foundation, a presidential historian, and author of the just-released INCOMPARABLE GRACE: JFK in the Presidency. He characterizes his 1978 SCA experience at Yosemite as “magical.”

For more on the SCA100K Ambassadors and SCA’s 65th anniversary activities, visit www.thesca.org/SCA100K.

CONTACT: Kevin Hamilton, VP for Communications, 603.372.7068 or khamilton@thesca.org

About the Student Conservation Association

The Student Conservation Association (SCA) is the national leader in youth service and stewardship. SCA conserves lands and transforms lives by co-powering young people from diverse backgrounds to plan, act, and lead, while they protect and restore our natural and cultural resources. Founded in 1957, SCA’s mission is to build the next generation of conservation leaders, and two-thirds of former SCA interns worldwide are employed or studying in conservation-related fields. For more, visit www.thesca.org.