Program Wide Staff
Morgan (she/her/hers) joined SCC in August of 2019 to work with recruitment, outreach, and communications. She was raised in Horicon, Wisconsin and earned her degree in agriculture education from UW-Platteville. After graduation, Morgan headed to the Four Corners region to work at an outdoor expedition summer camp in the high country of western New Mexico. While falling asleep under the stars in her hammock, Morgan discovered her love for the southwest. After the season at the summer camp, she started her SCC involvement as an individual placement intern in the Resource Assistant program with the USDA Forest Service. She worked in the Regional Office in Albuquerque, NM with the interpretation, education, and outreach department. While not at work, Morgan can be found trying new activities outdoors, visiting National Parks, hiking, fishing, watching sunsets, or spending time with her dog, Moo.
With over 10 years of Corps specific nonprofit management and leadership experience, Kevin Heiner (he/him/his) serves as the Corps Director of Southwest Conservation Corps. Kevin holds 2 undergraduate degrees, graduating from Western State College of Colorado Magna Cum Laude in Business Administration and Recreation Leadership and Resort Management. Kevin’s prior work experience includes being an Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighter in the US Air Force, leading crews for the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps of Colorado and owning and operating a small forestry company in Steamboat Springs, CO. When not working Kevin can be found spending time with his family and friends, often outdoors, sneaking away to adventure and tour through the iconic and wild southwestern USA and beyond. Kevin has a passion for adventure and the friendships and community forged through perseverance to common goals and discovery, both of self and surroundings. Kevin believes deeply in active mentorship, stewardship of the natural world, active civic and community engagement as well as peer accountability.
Roseann grew up in Kansas City, Missouri and often visited Colorado as a child. She moved to the Southwest in 1990 after living in Nederland and Boulder for a few years. She joined Southwest Conservation Corps in January 2019 as the Grants and Agreements Manager. Roseann has worked in the Durango non-profit sector for over 25 years and graduated from Fort Lewis College with a degree in Sociology. When she’s not working, she loves exploring the outdoors with her partner and children. Her favorite pastimes are CrossFit, hiking, paddle boarding, mountain biking, backpacking, cooking and reading.
Clara (she/her/hers) was born and raised in Great Falls, Montana where she first developed her love for wild places, open spaces, and winding trails. After receiving her B.S. in Geography from the University of Montana, she be-bopped around the country working as a Park Ranger in Zion National Park and a cranberry farmer in Wisconsin among other things. Clara's fondness for National Service developed after serving as a Big Sky Watershed Corpsmember with the Clark Fork Coalition in Missoula, MT. After thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in 2014, she found her way to Colorado where she began working with Southwest Conservation Corps as a Crew Leader. When she’s not working on creating a stellar Individual Placements Program you can find her hiking, biking, running, or skiing through the beautiful landscapes of the southwest, working on home improvement projects, or cooking up a storm in the kitchen.
Katy Olson (she/her/hers) started as an office manager/administrative assistant with Southwest Conservation Corps seasonally in the summer of 2010, and then took a year round position in 2011. As Conservation Legacy formed and grew, Katy moved solely into an administrative manager role for Southwest Conservation Corps, a program of Conservation Legacy.
Cait was born and raised in the Appalachian Mountains. She graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in Anthropology/Archaeology. She worked as an Archaeologist throughout various regions, eventually finding a focus in Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado. In 2018 she served her first Americorps term with Appalachian Conservation Corps and fell in love with the corps world! Looking to get back to the Four Corner’s region, she moved back to Colorado where she now serves as the Individual Placement Program Coordinator for Southwest Conservation Corps.
Four Corners Region • Durango, CO
Hailing originally from the mother country, Richard (he/him/his) has made a life for himself in Colorado’s desert southwest. Starting his passion for the corps world straight out of high school, by serving with Maine Conservation corps, since then Richard has become a ten year veteran of the corps movement. When on the job, he can be found anywhere from the bottom of a pile of saw parts to the steep side slopes of the San Juan mountains, safely guiding boulders by steel cable to their resting place in the structures that are part of our legacy. Richard has climbed his way through SCC since 2006, when he started as a crew leader in training. Now he manages equipment, tools, food, trainings and a family beyond the one he has at SCC.
Jordan started with SCC early in 2015. in 2012 he got his first exposure to the conservation movement as a Crew Leader for the Utah Conservation Corps, where he learned much about himself. Deciding to finish his B.S. at Utah State University, he began working full-time as a GIS technician (read: sitting at a desk and staring at a computer screen in a basement office) where after a few months he finally had a moment where long days, dirty hands, and going to bed tired were calling; so, he returned to UCC as a Field Boss in 2014, and never looked back. Outside of the Corps world, Jordan has worked in Arboriculture, as a Research Technician throughout the west, as a backcountry yurt guide in the Bear River Range of Utah, and as a Student Trips and Program Climbing Coordinator for the Outdoor Program at USU. His ultimate goal in life is to expose people to the wonders of our natural world through stewardship and service. When not at work, he takes pleasure in pursuing the quiet places; usually by means of skiing, climbing or fly fishing.
Teresa joined the SCC team in 2016. She grew up in New Jersey, where she was exposed to nature and ecology in elementary school and with family—splashing in the local streams or finding places to sea kayak. Teresa was excited to explore the bigger and vaster landscapes around the country. She moved to Vermont to study environmental science, where her class and play time inspired her to work outside in the conservation field. She has worked with the Student Conservation Association, the Utah Conservation Corps, and in various environmental education and GIS positions. She is excited to be in Durango, helping to empower the next generation in all ways. Outside of work, you can find Teresa enjoying the local trails, reading a good book, or staring in constant awe at the places around her!
Eric originally hails from the cold Nordic lands of MinnesOOta, but has spent many years wandering a variety of different habitats. Prior to Eric's current employment here with SCC he spent a few years associated with land management on a variety of different levels, a brief hiatus to swim among the coral of Southeast Asia removing tsunami debris, a couple of years collecting data as a field researcher, two great years meandering the urban forest of Philadelphia, PA "fixing trees" as his daughter put it, and recently, overseeing many facets of a statewide environmental non-profit organization in Denver, CO. Presently, the majestic landscapes of southern Colorado have beckoned his return and he is eager to find himself in a position where he can apply his hard work and dedication in a place that has meant so much to him.
Emily (she/her/hers) grew up on the front range of Colorado where her love of mountains, fresh air, and the great outdoors was fostered. She attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado where she obtained a BS in Environmental Engineering. Upon graduating she worked as a research engineer in the field of oil and gas remediation. After deciding that her passions lied elsewhere, she packed her bags and headed to Durango, CO where she joined an SCC saw crew and fell in love with conservation work. Emily continued to work with SCC as a crew leader, field supervisor, and Watershed Programs Coordinator before becoming the Watershed Programs Manager. Emily has also worked as an environmental science technician in Germany, a lab assistant in the fields of evolutionary ecology and contaminant hydrology, and as a ski instructor for Purgatory Ski Resort outside of Durango, CO. In her off time she can be found adventuring outdoors with her dog Jake and husband Jed.
Cassandra joined SCC in the late winter of 2018. She brings a couple of seasons of botanical survey and sage grouse habitat assessment with the Great Basin Institute. She has worked on projects investigating a range of life-forms and systems, from how hydra just keep on budding, to how red-eyed treefrogs choose their mates, to if chronic exposure to engine noise elicits in White’s treefrogs a hormonal reaction indicative of stress (…it does). She is a Board member of Back To Natives, a 501(c)(3) promoting service-learning through native plant education and habitat restoration, based in her hometown Orange County, CA. From the behaviors of animals in forests to the behaviors of plants on the range, it’s been a wild ride of understanding. Now, she wants to facilitate everyone’s play and work with living things.
Jeanine (she/her/hers) started with SCC as a Program Coordinator in June of 2020. She moved from Central Illinois where she spent a few years running a career education and exploration program for high school students. Before that, she worked as a Technical Advisor for the Pacific Crest Trail Association overseeing volunteer training and leading a large re-alignment of the PCT through Central Oregon. She has served in AmeriCorps, done disaster relief, and worked on staff for the Montana Conservation Corps out of Bozeman as well as a bunch of other kinds of work to float various seasonal ambitions.
She is excited to combine her diverse work history to help SCC participants achieve their goals and serve our public lands. In addition to being outside, she loves reading very long books, making bread, and gardening. She is really, really happy to be here.
Lisa (she/her/hers) joined SCC in 2018 as a Program Coordinator. After graduating from college with a degree in International Relations, Lisa headed to Bozeman, Montana to serve with the Montana Conservation Corps. This is where her wonder and desire for the great outdoors turned into something more. She immediately was hooked on trail work and quickly realized that an indoor office was not for her. Lisa has continued on with the US Forest Service, Northwest Youth Corps and the Forest Park Conservancy in Portland, Oregon. Off the clock, you can find Lisa chasing her next adventure. Whether that’s climbing up rocks, backpacking, reading a good book, or throwing a frisbee with friends, Lisa has a passion for new and cool things. She is excited to join the SCC team and explore the great Southwest.
Los Valles Region • Salida, CO
Ben (he/him/his) joined the SCC Los Valles collaborate in June of 2018. He grew up in scruffy Pennsylvania and moved out west in 2014 where he worked his first season as a Corpsmember with Canyon County Youth Corps. For the next rambunctious 3 years he worked out of the Durango Office of SCC leading a cornucopia of sparkly misfits and goofballs. During 2017 he left Colorado to help start up Conservation Corps New Mexico down in Las Cruces. However, after 9 months the picas of Colorado called him back and he took his current position here as a program coordinator. In his free time Ben enjoys swinging, Climbing, Biking, and most of all caterwauling.
Anna (she/her/hers) rejoined the SCC team as the Los Valles Region Program Director in December 2016 after a three year conservation corps hiatus in which she managed the Mountains to Sounds Greenway Trust volunteer program in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She is excited to reconnect with her conservation corps roots and has served in many roles over the years as a Corps Member, Project Leader, Program Coordinator, and more recently as Recruitment and Admissions Coordinator for the SCC Four Corners region. Born and mostly-raised in Colorado, she is excited to be a part of conservation efforts much closer to home and her heart. She has found the SCC to be an incredible organization in which to cultivate her wonder for the natural world while connecting with and building community. When given the chance, she can be found hiking, biking, climbing, dancing, and generally meandering about the amazing Colorado landscape.
The first major accomplishment of Dylan’s (he/him/his) conservation career was the successful counting and documentation of every single animal he saw on a week-long trip to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons at age 10. His subsequent degrees in Wildlife Biology and Resource Conservation and minor in Wilderness Studies from the University of Montana are therefore unsurprising. Dylan has since worked as a wilderness ranger in Montana, an environmental educator in North Carolina, and in internship roles with Wild South, the US Forest Service and the Great Old Broads for Wilderness. He started with SCC in Durango in 2015 as a crew leader and refused to leave, coming back for a second leader season, a field supervisor season, and now as Logistics Coordinator in Salida. In his free time, Dylan is probably mountain biking, skiing, flyfishing, homebrewing, and waxing poetic about public lands to anyone who will listen.
Thérèse “Tess” d’Auria Ryley returned to Southwest Conservation Corps in 2019 after a decade, when she first served as a corps member and crew leader. Thérèse is a social scientist with expertise in climate adaptation and response systems development, with scientific publications in journals like Climate Risk Management and Global Food Security. She is passionate about applying research centered on land restoration, access, and power, to practice. Prior to reuniting with SCC, Tess worked for PowerCorpsPHL in her home community of Philadelphia PA, which engages the corps model to reduce gun violence, increase youth employment, and build strong communities. Back with SCC, Thérèse is committed to continue empowering individuals through trauma-informed care and data-informed conservation practice. Outside of work, Tess continues writing to explore data that illuminates power structures at play in land management and enjoys exploring Colorado’s vast natural wonders.
Aubrey joined the SCC team as a Program Coordinator in 2017. She spent her childhood in Arizona and graduated with a degree in Conservation Biology from Northern Arizona University in 2011. As a kid, she spent a lot of time exploring the outdoors with her family which cultivated a passion for public lands and a desire to work and play outside. Aubrey’s first experience working in the great outdoors was as a summer crew member for CREC in 2008. After that, she spent 2 summers working in the Backcountry Office at Rocky Mountain National Park, a summer on a NOLS AK Sea Kayaking/Backpacking course, and worked as a Youth Crew Leader for MCC. She also spent time as a Fire Fighter for the Forest Service and as an Outdoor Adventure Leader and Enrichment Instructor for Bend Parks and Rec. Aubrey is excited to be back in the conservation corps world, empowering youth be engaged citizens and stewards of public lands
Ancestral Lands • Acoma Pueblo, Hopi, Navajo, Zuni, and Albuquerque
Ryan Aguilar comes from Zuni and Santo Domingo Pueblos of New Mexico. In 2016, he was hired as the Ancestral Lands Program (AL) Field Coordinator for Zuni Pueblo. Ryan started out with SCC in May 2015 as a summer intern based out of El Morro National Monument, NM. This was his first ever corps experience of any kind and quickly realized the magnitude of positive impact that SCC gives to the communities they serve. With the direct mentorship of SCC and El Morro’s Heritage Preservation Division, Ryan was able to convince Zuni’s Tribal Administration to start an AL program for its people. As an active member of the Zuni traditional lifestyle, he feels that it is personal responsibility to learn in every way, in order to pass that knowledge down. Prior to joining SCC, he worked as an archeology laborer. He was raised into a traditional home, and gives credit to all his grandparents for teaching him his cultural identity. An outdoorsman by heart, in his spare time he loves hunting, fishing, hiking, bird watching, or just being outside. Truly believes he found his calling in SCC!
Michellsey grew up in the small town of Shonto on the Navajo Nation. After receiving her degree in Parks and Recreation from Northern Arizona University, she made her love of the outdoors a lifestyle. She spent some years instructing both mountaineering and rock climbing courses in the mountains of Southeast Alaska. She paddle captained the mighty Tatshenshini River, and racked several days instructing in the Yukon Territory. She took on the slot canyons of Southern Utah, as well as the open waters of the Prince William Sound. In 2014 her adventures took her down a river that forged a passion in both hydrology and river restoration. Combining both led to running raft trips down the Middle Fork of the Salmon, and to co-leading restoration efforts on the Chehalis River. Returning to the southwest in 2017, Michellsey continued her river pursuits with the Escalante River Watershed Partnership, supporting the Russian Olive Project. Recently relocating to New Mexico, Michellsey continues to make her relationship with the natural environment the forefront of life. She is thrilled to be supporting the Ancestral Lands Program.
Mercediz is Navajo. Her maternal clan is Red Running into the Water and her paternal clan is Mexican people. She was raised in Teec Nos Pos, Arizona and resides in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. She began as a crew member for the Ancestral Lands Urban fall crew and AIM (Assessment, Inventory and Monitoring). In 2019, she became the Ancestral Lands Administrative Assistant. She received her bachelor of science degree from New Mexico State University in Geological Science. She enjoys outdoors activities and watching films.
Aaron joined SCC in May 2012 as a Crew Leader under Ancestral Lands heading a youth hiking program called the Acoma Hiking Club for it’s second year. Prior to becoming an SCC Staff member he worked for the Student Conservation Association (SCA) and National Park Service- Rivers and Trails Conservation Assistance (NPS-RTCA) Program coordinating a trail feasibility study with for the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. While under SCA/ NPS-RTCA Aaron worked the Zuni Mountain Trails Partnership to help facilitate a trail project with the US Forest Service as well as initiate, coordinate, and lead the first pilot groups of the Acoma Hiking Club. He also worked for the Sky City Cultural Center and Haak’u Museum as Tourism and Hospitality Coordinator for two years. Aaron was born and raised in the historic and culturally rich Pueblo of Acoma and studies at New Mexico State University. He enjoys spending time with his family, hiking, mountain biking, and participating in his Acoma cultural traditions.
Rob Mariano Was born and lived most his life in Isleta Pueblo, NM. Rob is a member of the Pueblo of Isleta but is also of Acoma and Laguna Decent. For most of his early childhood he enjoyed playing sports, as well as hunting and fishing in the outdoors with his grandpas and uncles as well as his father. The love for the outdoors led Rob to get a bachelor’s degree in forestry with a concentration in wildland fire from New Mexico Highlands University. Having experience as an intern for both U.S Forest Service and Isleta Pueblo Natural Resource Department, Rob is excited to continue his career as an outdoor professional and to work with SCC and the Ancestral Lands program to continue to support Native youth in meaningful outdoor experience.
Marshall is Paaqapwungwu (Reed) Clan from the village of Bacavi on the Hopi Reservation. Marshall started conservation work in 2007 with CREC, moved to SCC, spent a season with RMYC, then settled with SCC again for the long haul. He enjoys serving his community by providing opportunities through recreation and service. He enjoys long cold walks in canyons wearing a wetsuit and being bogged down with wet ropes.
Shandiin joined SCC in 2013 out of the Durango office, followed by two more seasons, ending in 2015 leading a trail crew. She moved to Washington and got a position working with Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, leading a professional trail crew in the Cascade Mountains. While working for SCC (by way of CFI collaborations) and Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, she gained valuable skills in stone work that translated into her next endeavor. Shandiin began working for a local landscaping company, based in Durango, that specialized in dry stone masonry. While working in the private sector she felt a lack of indigenous community and involvement. So, she became a work skills instructor for the SCA and plotted her next move. Time and time again, the sacred geography of Dinetah called her back to the stronghold, ultimately leading her to the Program Coordinator position in Ancestral Lands Navajo. She can be found looking for stones to chisel and place, learning about local fauna, propagating plants or hiking around her homebase.
Chas (he/him/his) began with the SCC in April 2012 as a Field Supervisor and co-led a Disaster Relief Crew in New York in November 2012, after Hurricane Sandy. In January 2013, he began as Ancestral Lands Program Coordinator, working with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Acoma Pueblo to support existing programs and bring new conservation opportunities to Tribal Lands in the Southwest. Chas became the Four Corners Program Director in January 2014 and the AL Program Director in 2015. Before joining the SCC, Chas spent 3 ½ years with the Student Conservation Association’s Desert Restoration Corps, working to restore and protect desert ecosystems in the Mojave Desert. He worked in Mount Rainier National Park with the SCA and led high school crews throughout Colorado with the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps. When not working, Chas can be found climbing in the mountains or desert, canyoneering in Red Rock country, or falling off his bike on beginner mountain bike trails.