Program Wide Staff
Ron has over 14 years of experience leading conservation corps, having joined SCC in April 2011. Previously to his work with SCC, Ron worked with the Student Conservation Association (SCA), holding a variety of leadership positions within the conservation corps program. Throughout these positions he has developed skills and interests in many different areas, including organizational leadership, risk management, fire prevention, fuels management, restoration, and trail design and construction. Prior to working with the corps, Ron worked as a project engineer for a large consulting firm and was responsible for the design and construction management of highway bridge projects. When not working with the corps, Ron can be found biking the roads and trails of SW Colorado, skiing, playing the guitar, and spending time with his family. Ron is passionate about service, civic engagement, preservation of wilderness, and sustainable living in this changing world.
Clara was born and raised in Great Falls, Montana where she first developed her love for wild places, craggy mountains, and winding trails. After receiving her B.S. in Geography from the Univeristy of Montana, she be-bopped around the country working as a Park Ranger in Zion National Park and a cranberry farmer in Wisconsin. 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 now serves as Southwest Conservation Corps Individual Placements Coordinator. Contact Clara for questions about the IP program, fluvial geomorphology and tiny house living.
Katy Olson 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.
Four Corners Region • Durango, CO
Ryan has spent a number of years in conservation, academia, and outdoor leadership and he joins SCC as the Four Corners Program Coordinator. After graduating from college in the North Country of New York, he joined the SCC and led a number of crews, including technical trails, sustainable forestry, and a Crew Leader Development crew. In 2012, he left to pursue his Masters degree in geology from the University of Vermont. Following the completion of his degree, he built upon the skills he learned at SCC and started working for and eventually become a partner in a small professional trail crew in Northern Vermont. Though he loved building trails in the Northeast, his passion for teaching and his love for the desert Southwest drew him back to Colorado and SCC. In 2016 he became our Field Supervisor and is now looking forward to what he can accomplish as a Program Coordinator.
Hailing originally from the mother country, Richard 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 as a Program Coordinator. Living in New Jersey for the first 20 years of her life had Teresa yearning for some bigger, vaster landscapes than the streams and hills she grew up in. She moved to Vermont to study environmental science, where her class and play time allowed Teresa to truly feel the power of the wilderness, and inspired her to work outside in the conservation field. After leading a crew with the Student Conservation Association, Teresa finally ventured west of the Continental Divide for the first time to work for the Utah Conservation Corps for the past two years. Besides corps work, she has worked in both environmental education and GIS positions. Teresa comes to Durango and SCC excited to share her love of saws and rocks, and is looking forward to exploring the beautiful Southwest!
With over 7 years of Corps specific nonprofit management and leadership experience, Kevin Heiner serves as the Regional Director of the Four Corners region for SCC. Kevin holds 2 undergraduate degrees, graduating from Western State College of Colorado Magna Cum Laude in Business Administration and Recreation Leadership and Resort Management. 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 loves culture, history, good food, music and being free to be the inner goofball that his serious position must sometimes betray. Kevin believes deeply in active mentorship, stewardship of the natural world, active civic and community engagement and peer accountability.
Emily 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 and field supervisor before becoming the Watershed Programs Coordinator. 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 the SCC in the late winter of 2018. She brings a couple of seasons of and botanical survey and sage grouse habitat assessment experience 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 engine noise elicits in White’s treefrogs a hormonal reaction indicative of stress (it does). 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.
Lisa 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
Nicole joined SCC May 2016. Her outdoor career began at 18-years old, trail building with the Student Conservation Association in Milton, FL. She spent the rest of her young adult years traveling the world mentoring youth on extended wilderness expeditions, instructing snowboarding, mountaineering, leadership and a myriad of other youth development and character-building skills. Overall, she has enjoyed 20 years serving in a variety of rolls at NOLS, the Crested Butte Adaptive Sports Center, and most recently at Big City Mountaineers as MN Regional Director. Nicole has degrees in Biochemistry, Biological Conservation, and Environmental Studies. Experiencing personally the life-changing impact of outdoor education and stewardship programs, Nicole brings a passion and dedication to providing these transformational opportunities to others. She is grateful to be offering her skill sets to support the SCC mission. In her free time, Nicole might be precariously sitting in one of those inverted yoga poses pondering where is the next outdoor adventure with her amazing dog Leo.
Anna 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 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. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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
Anthony Ciocco, known to most as ‘Chako,’ joined SCC Ancestral Lands in 2012 leading ecological restoration chainsaw crews on the Navajo rez. Chako is of the Mvskoke Nation, Tokvpvcce Tribe, Hotvlkvlke clan, and calls Oklahoma and New Mexico home. After graduating from CU Boulder he worked in his local Mvskoke (Creek and Seminole) communities doing language revitalization and Indigenous food sovereignty work. A lifelong outdoorsmen he believes ecological restoration and the Corps lifestyle is an ideal space to empower Indigenous young people. In 2014 Chako received the Champion of Change Award from the Whitehouse for his work with Southwest Conservation Corps Ancestral Lands program. Outside of the office he spends his time with his wife and 3 kids, growing a desert food forest, in his traditional community, hunting, fishing, CrossFit, and being in the wilderness.
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 small town 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 an interest in both hydrology and river restoration. Combining both lead to running raft trips down the Middle Fork of the Salmon, and to co-leading restoration efforts on the Chehalis River. Returning to Southern Utah, Michellsey continued her river pursuits with the Escalante River Watershed Partnership, supporting the Russian Olive Program. Recently relocating to New Mexico, Michellsey continues to make her relationship with the natural environment the forefront of life. She is thrilled to be working with Ancestral Lands as their Program and Recruitment Coordinator.
Shonto became a part of the Ancestral Lands Family in February 2017. While growing up he and his family moved back and forth with the school year between Shonto, AZ and Flagstaff, AZ. Straddling two different world-views from the 21st century and traditional way of life on the Reservation. He draws experience in conservation corps work from The Coconino Rural Environment Corps (CREC), Montana Conservation Corps (MCC), Arizona Conservation Corps (AZCC), and the Forest Service. Starting with a chainsaw crew in 2012 as a member, to his role now with Ancestral Lands as a Program Coordinator. Shonto has been striving to work his way up the ladder and continually develop his skills to better engage young adults from his own indigenous community. “I want to make a positive impact in the lives of our indigenous youth; to cultivate more mindful, environmentally conscious tribal leaders for the future of our people.” Whether it is Backpacking, Mountain Biking, Rock Climbing, or tending the corn fields. Shonto finds himself comfortable in every aspect of the outdoors.
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.
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.
Chas 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 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 Rainer 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.
Mike spent five seasons with the Forest Service in Arizona while working towards his B.S. in Ecology and Natural History at Prescott College. His final studies included conducting Wild and Scenic river research in the Grand Canyon. Mike has directed small corps programs, served as Project Coordinator for RMYC (CO) and spent five years as Academic Director for an alternative high school focused on service learning and outdoor experience. Throughout this time he became more passionate about the Southwest’s amazing rivers and was also a river instructor with Outward Bound. Joining SCC as River Restoration Director was a culmination of Mike’s varied experiences. Here he supported watershed length, collaborative habitat restoration initiatives on the Dolores, Verde, Escalante, and Gila rivers with five conservation corps programs and a wide host of partners. After 6 years in this position, Mike stepped into the role as SCC's Ancestral Lands Regional Director where he supports 5 offices on Acoma Pueblo, Zuni Pueblo, Navajo Nation, Hopi and in Albuquerque's South Valley. Engaging Native American staff, crews and interns in communities of need while restoring and protecting habitat across the Southwest continues to motivate and inspire.