Our work is driven by the skill and energy of our Crew Leaders.
The success of VYCC is indebted to the highly motivated and committed young adults who take on the challenging job of leading crews.
VYCC carefully selects young leaders that ensure the safety of each Corps Member, effectively manage crew projects to meet the expectations and deadlines of project sponsors, build a positive crew community that reflects VYCC’s values, and support the learning and personal growth of each Corps Member.
Crew Leaders complete a rigorous residential training program before Corps Members arrive. Classroom workshops and hands-on practice ensure competence in technical skills, risk management, first aid, safe driving, tool use and maintenance, group dynamics, discipline, meal planning, and Leave No Trace practices.
Crews are typically assigned one male and one female Crew Leader. Once in the field, they are supported by VYCC staff through weekly call-ins, weekly visits including occasional overnight stays, and a 24/7 on-call system. Crews have access to a vehicle at all times and each location has a safety plan including how to access emergency medical care.
*All info below is for our 2017 Crew Leaders. Check back soon to meet our new leaders for 2018!
AmeriCorps 1, Conservation
Paul is excited to begin his first season with Vermont Youth Conservation Corps. Three days after graduating from Rutgers University in 2015, he was on a plane to Thailand, where he spent a year teaching English and connecting with young people in the Isan region. After that he moved to Nepal to volunteer with an international disaster relief NGO, where he helped rebuild 50 homes in the Sindhupalchok district and two schools in the Nuwakot district. He also raised over $3,000 to participate in the All Hands on Everest Challenge, a charity trek up to Everest Base Camp. Since returning from Nepal he has led teams of volunteers to much and gut homes affected by the flooding in Texas and Louisiana. His favorite hobbies are reading, swimming, ceramics, and creative writing (he has written five novels!). He is a dedicated individual whose personal motto, “Be dareful,” inspires him to work hard, seek adventure, and strive for mindfulness.
AmeriCorps 2, Conservation
Mike is a backpacking leather foot with a heart of wood. A free climb, carried by the seas type with a penchant for seasonal migrant work; he spent the last five years putting in time for the National Park Service, Department of Natural Resources, and various small traditional skills schools and farms around the country. A Sterling College graduate with a degree in Natural History, Mike looks forward to the summer season wherein he can share his knowledge with others and help to facilitate a fun and rewarding work environment. When not swinging a pick you might find him enjoying a book in the sun, pawing at a guitar, or carving his initials into a summit roster. His favorite color is coquelicot.
Mike is pictured with Kira Miller, who co-led with him for the crew’s first four weeks.
AmeriCorps 3, Conservation
Jason grew up in New Jersey and attended Connecticut College where he graduated with a major in Philosophy and a minor in Biology. His first experiences with the outdoors came when he spent the summer before his senior year of college interning with the US Forest Service in Alaska. It didn’t take long before he realized he wanted to spend as much time as possible working, playing, and living outdoors. After graduating college he quickly enrolled as a NOLS student where he learned about outdoor leadership, environmental stewardship, and most importantly about the power of the wilderness as an environment for personal growth. Since then he has worked on various trail crews across the country, from Arizona to Maine, in order to help conserve these wild places he has come to value so much. His favorite outdoor hobbies include backpacking, rock climbing, and reading under a shady tree and he is ecstatic to bring his love of all things outdoors to VYCC this season.
April Simmons and Ricky Ortiz
AmeriCorps 4, Conservation
April began trail work in 2014 in California, and led a youth crew for the Southeast Conservation Corps last year. She appreciates trail work because it shows you what you’re made of and can help you develop a strong work ethic. Kahlil Gibran’s saying, “Work is love made visible,” is a driving force for April in her work.
Ricky’s very first job was doing conservation work in the Mojave National Preserve in Southern California. He discovered VYCC last year, when he first served as a Crew Leader. Ricky is a skilled and experienced Crew Leader with tested trail building and carpentry skills. He aspires to be a writer and continues to study philosophy, politics, and environmentalism.
Lindsay (Lin) Wright and David Pierce
AmeriCorps 5, Conservation
Lin is a returner to VYCC. Last year, she served on an AmeriCorps Crew in North Carolina and continued work into the fall in Vermont. She came to VYCC with experience in ocean rescue and beach conservation through her upbringing on Amelia Island, Florida. Lin has been a YMCA supervisor and has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Florida in architectural design. Her repeated migrations between Vermont and the Southeast have her feeling a bit like a bird!
David spent his early days in Massachusetts building forts in the woods with his sisters. As he grew, so did his curiosity and love for exploring. Dave earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Sciences from Ithaca College. After a stint of travel, he spent a year with Arizona Conservation Corps.
Kat O’Leary, Becky Reitwiesner, Julianna Brown
American Sign Language Crew, Conservation
Kat fell in love with American Sign Language and Deaf culture at Onondaga Community College. With passion, drive, and love for languages and communication, she continued her studies at Maryville College in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. Last year, she served as an interpreter intern and crew leader for a Deaf and Hard of Hearing crew with Northwest Youth Corps. She fell madly in love with conservation work! She has had a love for the wilderness ever since she can remember and is pumped to lead VYCC’s ASL crew this summer!
Becky is studying to become an American Sign Language Interpreter at Maryville College in Tennessee. Growing up in Virginia, she spent summers on the pool deck as both a swimmer and a swim instructor. This is her first time doing conservation work, and is very excited to meet her Crew Members.
As a native Vermonter and third-time VYCCer, Julianna brings a toolbox full of skills in conservation, crew dynamics, and life in these green hills. Julianna has dedicated her summers and weekends to improving her local environment. She attends Sarah Lawrence College in New York. Outside of trail work, she enjoys filmmaking, and learning to cook.
Gabe Albright and Kira Miller
Barre Community Crew, Conservation
This is Gabe’s third consecutive season leading crews with VYCC. His work in youth development includes outdoor education, coaching, environmental science, and high school English. He is a native of Vermont.
Similarly, 2017 is also Kira’s third time as VYCC Crew Leader. She brings particularly strong technical skills in constructing rock steps, turnpiking, and building boardwalks. From the Midwest, Kira hopes to make Vermont her home base. When not leading crews, Kira enjoys relaxing meals with friends and exciting adventures to new cities.
Jerad Fisher and Samantha Travis
Brattleboro Community Crew, Conservation
Calling the Ozarks home, Jerad grew up in Joplin, Missouri. He holds a degree in Economics from Hendrix College. He enjoys spending time in the back of a canoe on the Jacks Fork and Buffalo Rivers, paddling with friends. After discovering the joy of trail work in Tucson, Arizona with the Arizona Conservation Corps, he decided to explore Vermont with VYCC. In the future he hopes to pursue a PhD in Environmental Economics. Still mastering the art of small talk, Jerad loves to hear about people’s days and their taste in books and movies. Also, let him know if you want to lose at dominoes.
Samantha is looking forward to her second summer with VYCC. Last year, she and her crew worked on the Appalachian Trail. She most enjoyed Ben & Jerry’s, making new friends, and working with rocks. Samantha recently graduated from SUNY Delhi with a degree in Carpentry and Building Trades, and will begin to pursue a degree in Resource Conservation at the University of Montana this fall. When she’s not running or by the water, Samantha dabbles in the hands-on side of the commercial construction industry. In the near future, she hopes to incorporate sustainable materials and building practices into residential home building. Most of all, she is eager to share her passions for hard work and learning “on your feet instead of in your seat” with her Corps Members.
Matt Hawes and Jacob Kroes
Burlington Community Crew, Conservation
Matt graduated from the University of Vermont with majors in Environmental Studies and Philosophy. He has served in the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, and the Student Conservation Association. For the past six years has been a professional tail builder with Tahawus Trails, completing projects across the northeast, including iconic spots like Niagara Falls. Matt harbors a deep passion for exploration and has traveled through West Africa, Southeast Asia, the United Kingdom, and North America. He is an avid ski mountaineer, hiker, and trout fisherman and when not out rambling can be found reading a good book or listening to live music. Matt believes that young people are one of, if not the greatest, resource the world has to offer and as such their education and inspiration during this time of life is essential to a better future for all.
Jacob has been working with youth in Vermont for several years. He has been a ski instructor for five years and as a school counselor for one year. Last season Jacob worked with VYCC on a five month Spike Crew and became incredibly passionate about the lessons hard work, community, and the outdoors have to teach us. Some of Jacob’s favorite activities are skiing, hiking, and camping. He very much looks forward to a happy, healthy summer.
Tyler Groff and Sarah Simaitis
Dorset Crew, Conservation
Sarah is a wildlife and conservation biologist with a degree from the University of New Hampshire. She has done wildlife rehabilitation in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and wildlife surveys for the Forest Service in Idaho. Her love of travelling brought her to New Zealand and Australia where she studied the Auckland tree weta (a species of insect), backpacked in the beautiful mountains, and explored the outback. Now that she is back in New England, she can’t wait to share her love and knowledge of the environment with her 2017 VYCC crew!
Tyler has travelled extensively, attending high school in Cambodia and exploring the US after college. He earned a degree in Peacebuilding and Development from Eastern Mennonite University, then taught bike maintenance to youth in Tucson. He discovered a passion for leading crews, working outside, and running a chainsaw through with the Arizona Conservation Corps. He is looking forward to all of the adventures and projects that he and his crew will enjoy this summer!
Newport Community Crew, Farm
Molly grew up in Boulder, Colorado as a wild farm kid. She moved to Maine for a farm internship in 2013, and since then has been growing a love for the northeast. Working on organic farms all around the region, she has cultivated a deep appreciation for soil, food, and the connections that farming brings to communities. She is passionate about food security, farm education, nutrition and the healing power of vegetables and is very excited about joining the VYCC to expand the reach of Health Care Shares in Vermont. Molly lives in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont and spends her free time hiking with her two dogs (and sometimes her cat in a backpack), doing yoga, and exploring the nooks and crannies of her beautiful state.
Richmond Community Crew, Farm
Ben grew up in Richmond Vermont and is glad to be giving back to this community. Since 2014 he has been mentoring youth in outdoor education programs across the country, including High Trails Outdoor Science School in Southern California, the Children’s Garden in Ithaca NY, Cornell’s Team and Leadership Center, and the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Youth Opportunities Program. Driven by a passion for community-based natural resource management, Ben has been learning the ways of organic farming for the last few years as well! He is excited to be with a team that models healthy food systems to support families in need throughout the state. Outside work, Ben generally spends his free time exploring the Green Mountains, climbing tall rocks, and baking fresh sourdough.
Richmond Community Crew, Farm
Andrea grew up outside of Washington D.C., but has since lived in Australia, Florida, and California. She was first awakened to her love for the natural world while working at a wilderness camp in the beautiful Adirondack Mountains. While getting a degree in Environmental Studies at Eckerd College, she was able to foster this connection by volunteering on a variety of farms and interning for a non-profit organization focused on garden education. After graduating in 2015, she traveled extensively around the West Coast doing work-trade on organic vegetable farms, expanding her skills, and learning about the complexities of food systems. Andrea is excited to continue to explore the endless connections between the environment, food, and people, and is especially looking forward to helping inspire younger generations to cultivate a deep reverence for nature through the magic of growing food. A favorite book: Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins.
Richmond Community Crew, Farm
Audrey grew up in Northern Kentucky near Cincinnati and attended Indiana University, graduating with a degree in Biology and a minor in Nutrition. While earning her degree, she spent time outside of the classroom volunteering at the local food pantry leading children’s cooking classes and tending to the gardens. She was employed as an undergraduate research assistant in the biology department studying metabolism in fruit flies. She enjoys working with youth and spent her summers as a counselor at a summer camp in Nashville, Indiana. Audrey loves spending time outdoors whether it be camping, hiking (especially with her dogs), and binge watching The Food Network!
Richmond Community Crew, Farm
Ariana grew up wandering the river-trails and hills, and frequenting the downtown attractions of Richmond, VT. She has taught swimming, worked in coffee shops, and run the NOFA-VT teaching garden, all within the small Richmond community; she finds the work of giving back to her home town rewarding. She traveled to the big city of Burlington to study Environmental Studies and Ecological Agriculture at The University of Vermont and will be graduating in May of 2018. She loves eating and growing good food and is passionate about fostering healthy, happy and hard-working community members that have a connection to and respect for where their food comes from.
Rutland Community Crew, Farm
Taylor’s strong admiration for the local environment comes from considerable time exploring Mount Mansfield from her home in Jericho. Taylor studied at the University of Vermont, where she integrated international relations and agriculture through academic research and participation in local food justice organizations. Her thesis explored correlation between international trade deals and localized issues of food sovereignty by working with Chilean bee keepers over a semester in Chile. Taylor’s appreciation for organic agriculture has introduced her to a community of like-minded individuals who have helped nurture her passion for environmental conservation and self-exploration in the outdoors, and is excited to continue to be a part of this growing network. In her free time she enjoys painting, snowboarding, and playing her cello.
Patrick Neff and Ben Rodgers
St Albans Community Crew, Conservation
Ben is from Endicott, NY and joins VYCC for the first time after graduating from Le Moyne College with a degree in Environmental Science. He has worked as an educator at Baltimore Woods Nature Center and with New York State Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation as a conservation steward. Ben developed his love of the outdoors while visiting local nature preserves as a child. When he’s not outdoors, he can be found playing guitar and recording music. He is looking forward to teaching young people about the importance of preserving and protecting the natural world.
Patrick is from western New York, and attended college at St. Michael’s College where he received a degree in Biology. His first experience with VYCC was in 2011 as a Crew Leader. Since then he has worked as a Crew Leader for the Montana Conservation Corps where he also developed an interest in aquatic biology as a fisheries technician surveying remote mountain streams. He “splashed around” in stream culverts for The Nature Conservancy in Maine, and made his way back into the trail world last summer working for Maine Huts & Trails. Patrick is very excited to be back in Vermont, and to be working for VYCC.
Calvin Saenz and Olivia Wolf
South Burlington/Williston Community Crew, Conservation
Calvin, from Boston, is returning for his seventh season with VYCC. When he isn’t out on the trails Calvin explores a variety of arts and crafts, and anything that will make him laugh. He is excited to meet a new group of people this season, and see them grow both personally and professionally. He hopes they learn as much from him as he will from them.
Olivia was born and raised in Burlington and returns to VYCC after working as a Crew Member in 2014. She is a UVM grad with a degree in Environmental Studies and a double minor in Anthropology and Spanish. She has worked as a landscaper and a photographer and this past winter hiked through the Costa Rican Rainforest. Olivia is passionate about outdoor education and believes that everyone should have an opportunity to enjoy nature and find their own passion. She is excited to bring her love of challenging experiences, the outdoors, and education to VYCC this season.
Seth Sterling and Heather Furman
Woodstock Community Crew, Conservation
Seth grew up in Woodstock Vermont, where his family has been for four generations. He just finished his first semester of college and his pursuing a degree in biblical studies. This will be Seth’s fifth year with VYCC and second year as a Crew Leader. He is driven to constantly improve, and to help others. He cites his recent reading of the book The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (a long-time Vermonter), as “absolutely life changing.”
Heather (photo coming soon) had only been to Vermont once before arriving in Richmond in 2014 to become a VYCC Crew Leader. Now a year-round resident of Bolton, she is looking forward to her third season. She hopes for only infrequent sightings of the local black bear at Marsh Billings Rockefeller National Historical Park. Heather has done trail work for the Student Conservation Association, American Conservation Experience, and Timber & Stone, LLC. In the off-seasons, she works at Intervale Conservation Nursery raising and planting native trees, and manages nighttime lift operations for Bolton Valley Resort. Heather enjoys soaking in Vermont’s many great swimming holes, ski touring our state’s lovely hardwood glades, and eating really healthy foods like donuts and pie.
Melissa Doodan, Max Grigi, August Tallmadge
Leadership Development Crew, Conservation
Melissa is determined to make positive changes wherever her adventures take her! She is returning to VYCC as a Crew Leader after having a transformative experience as a Crew Member in 2016. Now a naturalist, she has always loved being outdoors – from day hikes to swimming in streams to hunting. Beware: starting a conversation with Melissa about Game of Thrones, crystals, or dogs may have exciting and long-winded consequences.
In tandem with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from Ithaca College, Max graduated from the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) India Semester where he excelled in leadership, risk management, and backcountry skills. After college, Max followed his passion for nature and science to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem of Montana and Wyoming where he performed ecological research, led citizen science crews, and refined his backcountry skills. Max loves meeting new people, making jokes, and eating chocolate. He is passionate for conservation and education, and he can’t wait to get his gloves dirty this summer!
August returns to VYCC for the third time. He is excited for his first leadership position! August attends Stonehill College where he expects to graduate with a major in Economics and a dual-minor in Arabic and Philosophy. He discovered his passion for the outdoors early at Shelburne Farms and loves hiking, backpacking, and spending time away from technology. As a Vermonter and a VYCC alumnus, August has found tremendous value in the accomplishments of manual labor and the opportunity to give back to the state he calls home.
Dillon Stephens and Mariah Palmer
Spike Crew, Conservation
Dillon has been doing conservation work for two and a half years. He has worked in four states and Puerto Rico. Dillon loves his job and takes it very seriously, and has led many crews with particular attention to safety, efficiency, and professionalism. He wants to inspire more youth to join the fight for our natural world. His goal is to have his Crew Members continue to prosper and grow in this field after their VYCC experience. Dillon is an adventurer and outdoor enthusiast thanks to his dad, who took him fishing and hiking from a young age.
Mariah grew up in Saint Albans playing soccer, camping, hiking, canoeing and biking. She earned a degree in Animal Conservation and Care from Green Mountain College. Her passion is protecting wildlife and their habit. She also coaches boys soccer, and women’s soccer and lacrosse. Mariah believes that maintaining our trails, parks and camping areas encourages us all to play outside and protect wildlife.
Hanna Holcomb and Elizabeth (Liza) Noworyta
Female Leadership Development Crew, Conservation
Hanna, a Biology and English student at Wesleyan University, is returning to VYCC after serving on a VYCC AmeriCorps Leadership Development Crew last summer. Her summer with VYCC inspired her to continue sleeping on the ground and not shower so much by taking a NOLS semester in the Rocky Mountains. During this course, Hanna further developed the backcountry and leadership skills she learned with VYCC and found an even greater passion for preserving our natural landscapes. This summer Hanna looks forward to making new friends, moving huge rocks, and eating backcountry cinnamon rolls.
Liza is a West Coast native, and a graduate of Western Washington University with a degree in English. She has served with two conservation corps – in Utah and Minnesota – and she is hooked. Elizabeth, usually called Liza, enjoys snowboarding, climbing, kayaking, canoeing, reading, writing, and drawing. She is excited to experience summer in Vermont after spending her winter working at Stowe Mountain Resort.
Cara Corcoran and Lucy Parker
Female Spike Crew, Conservation
Cara hails from Massachusetts, and as great as it is, she has always found herself drawn towards the peace and beauty offered by more remote wilderness. She graduated from UVM in 2014 with a degree in Philosophy and Environmental Studies, as well as from the National Leadership School where she spent a semester in Patagonia sea-kayaking and backpacking. With diploma in hand, she headed west to Yellowstone, and months later, to Oregon. She was introduced to conservation and participated in Northwest Youth Corps’ seasonal stewardship program. After an amazing summer and fall she headed back east where she lead student groups with Nature’s Classroom in New Hampshire. However, Conservation Corps still had a grip on her heart, so she headed west and lead a five-month young adult crew. She spent this past winter and spring travelling in Thailand and Nepal, but is psyched to be back in Vermont living in the woods, learning, and growing.
Lucy grew up in a small town outside of Burlington VT. Having traveled and studied throughout Asia, Europe, Africa and Central America, Lucy is well versed in world culture. Her first year with VYCC was 2002, and since then she has been a part of the VYCC family for 9 seasons! The summers she is not wearing a hardhat and VYCC uniform, you can find her on the trail hiking. In fact, she is one of a select few working toward the “Triple Crown” of hiking (the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail and Continental Divide Trail). Lucy is thankful for the opportunity to give back to the community through her work with VYCC, and is excited to once again spend the summer working in the fields and forests of Vermont.
Nicole Allen and Josh Carter
Leadership Development Crew, NCYCC (North Carolina Conservation)
Nicole just completed a year as a Team Leader with AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps. She has served 3 seasons with American Conservation Experience. She is excited to blend the elements she loves most: chainsaws, rock work, swinging a pick, and developing leaders, during her time with VYCC. Nicole loves seeing members become more confident throughout their time in the field. She eventually hopes to start her own Corps. Nicole believes that a good song and morning meditation is the best way to start the day; her favorite artist is Nahko and she reads Eckart Tolle as if her life depended on it.
Josh grew up in the rolling hills of Panton, Vermont. He is fresh off a NOLS semester in the Rocky Mountains and is eager to embark on an exciting journey with the VYCC community. For the past two years Josh has been serving a variety of outdoor programs at the Willowell Foundation as an AmeriCorps member. He hopes to share his knowledge from a recent internship at Keeping Track where he learned to help train citizen volunteers to read and record tracks and other signs of the animals that are critical to local ecological health. When he’s not working, Josh can be found on the basketball court either coaching youth or playing in a game of pickup. He loves hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, and skiing.
Shayden Joe and Jenn Greig
Yáhatééh! Shayden is a member of the Navajo Nation and was raised on the Navajo Reservation in Northeastern Arizona. He has served several AmeriCorps terms, most recently with the Arizona Conservation Corps in Mesa, AZ. He hopes to provide and foster environmental knowledge, stewardship, and care through conservation work and his cultural teachings. On his free time, he loves to play guitar and introduce people to new music. Shayden is elated and excited to be leading a group of youth in North Carolina, maintaining trails in the Uwharrie National Forest.
Jenn spent her childhood years between a beach town in Mexico and a small village in northern Germany, before graduating high school in California. After two years of community college, in two different states, she took on a gap year with AmeriCorps as an Environmental Liaison, which developed her passion for environmental protection and a love of “forgotten places.” Currently, Jenn is studying Environmental Design in Architecture at NC State, where she enjoys spending time in the woodshop and drawing in her sketchbook. Falling in love with Leave No Trace principles while building trail in the Sierra Nevadas, she dreams of living a zero-waste lifestyle in a tiny house.
Peter Grunwald and Jamie Ziolkowski
Peter is eager and excited to engage in his first experience with VYCC. He grew up in Duluth, Minnesota (the frigid and forlorn birthplace of a certain Bob Dylan). Currently he attends the University of Minnesota-Duluth where he is pursuing a double major of Social Studies Education combined with History. An affinity for the outdoors was planted in his childhood when camping with his family, and later bloomed when exploring the myriad lakes, rivers, and forests of Northern Minnesota – especially the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Most recently, he served with the Conservation Corps of Minnesota & Iowa where he fell in love with the conservation experience, since it combines his dual passions of the outdoors and youth development.
Jamie’s bio is coming soon!
Halle Harklau and Keith Warner
Halle grew up in Ohio and attended Wittenberg University where she studied Geography and minored in Political Science and Environmental Studies and Sustainability. She also studied abroad in Australia. She hopes to have a career in Sustainability and Conservation. Halle’s first job after graduating was with the Student Conservation Association in the Adirondacks and continued trail work with American Conservation Experience in Arizona and California. One of her favorite trail experiences was spending six months on the Pacific Crest Trail in California. Halle enjoys backpacking, fishing, sailing, and relaxing in her hammock. She is excited to start a new season with VYCC!
Keith grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and attended Haverford College, studying Geology and Environmental Studies. He always had an interest in working in the outdoors and took a job with the Student Conservation Association after college, working in upstate New York and then moving on to Arizona to work with American Conservation Experience. Recently, Keith worked on the Pacific Crest Trail. He enjoys backpacking, fishing, kayaking, and relaxing on the beach, and he makes a point to read the Harry Potter series once every year. He is also a rabid Philadelphia Eagles fan! Keith is very much looking forward to being a VYCC Crew Leader.