Program Wide Staff
Niki joined Southwest Conservation Corps as the Individual Placement Program Coordinator in February of 2023. She attended college at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, where she double majored in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and Communication Studies, with a minor in Global Environmental Sustainability.
Niki is a proud born and raised Coloradoan, who grew up playing sports and enjoying outdoor activities in the high country depending on the season! She knew she was meant to pursue an environmental based career through conservation and community-based work when she served on trail crew up in Rocky Mountain National Park and studied abroad in Costa Rica at the School for Sustainable Studies completing various rainforest monitoring and environmental education projects around the country.
After graduating, Niki moved to New Zealand to volunteer with the locals and travel the beautiful country. Ultimately, she ended up back in her home state and now resides in Pagosa Springs with her husband and rescue pup, Kaikoura. When not working, she enjoys hiking, paddle boarding, skiing, cooking, yoga, live music, traveling, and a good hammock.
Individual Placements Program Coordinator
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.
Mike King is serving the Southwest Conservation Corps as the Individual Placement Director. Mike received his bachelor's degree in Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University and a master’s degree in Health Sciences from Western Carolina University. Mike’s career has always been focused on serving others. He completed his national service term with AmeriCorps as the disaster services coordinator in California, worked as the National Health Educator for a nonprofit assisting injured veterans and as a leader at the Commonwealth of Virginia overseeing the workforce health education program.
When not at work in the summer months you will typically find Mike on some form of 2 wheels, whether riding his mountain bike, road bike or motorcycle throughout the San Juan mountains. Mike recently began Nordic skiing as his new winter sport passion.
Individual Placements Director
From picturesque snowcapped mountains to vibrant sandstone mesas, Wyatt has called the Colorado Plateau and greater Southwest his home all his life. He grew up and spent much of his formative years in Flagstaff, AZ. His family hails from a small reservation community on the Navajo Nation – Shonto, AZ. Wyatt is elated to join the Southwest Conservation Corps staff as their new Recruitment, Outreach, and Communications Specialists. He currently attends Fort Lewis College, as a pre-law student, majoring in Political Science with a minor in Environmental Policy. It was in his former role as the Youth Engagement and Operations Coordinator of Uplift Climate, a regionally based climate justice organization, that he found a love for diversity and youth programming. In this new role Wyatt hopes to continue to foster an ecosystem of diversity, equity, and inclusion to reflect the myriad of identities, backgrounds, and complexities of the communities that SCC and Conservation Legacy serve.”
Recruitment, Outreach, and Communications Specialist
Four Corners Region • Durango, CO
Greta (she/her/hers) joined SCC as an Adult Program Coordinator in 2023. She grew up in rural Vermont where she first learned to love the natural world and time spent outside. Greta graduated from Skidmore College in upstate New York with a degree in Environmental Studies and a passion for conservation work that carried her west to Durango, Colorado. Her first year in Durango, Greta worked for Conservation Legacy, developing programming and strategies to improve inclusivity throughout the organization. While she found great meaning in this position, she was eager for more time in the field. Greta next worked for SCC both as a crew member and crew leader with project work focused on invasive species removal and backcountry crosscut work. She also spent a year as a Wilderness Ranger for the Forest Service in the Weminuche Wilderness just outside of Durango. Greta is excited to be back home at SCC in her new role.
Adult Program Coordinator
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, Richard has since become a multi-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.
Seth Davis joined Conservation Legacy as a CLDP for the SCC Four Corners Youth Program in March of 2021, and returned in March of 2022 as a Field and Logistics Supervisor based out of the Durango office. Prior to joining conservation legacy, Seth conducted hazardous tree removal and prescribed burns for the Forest Preserve District of Cook County just outside of Chicago. He also interned for Audubon Great Lakes in habitat restoration on Prairie and Wetland ecosystems. Seth Graduated from Occidental College in Los Angeles in May of 2020 with a BA in Diplomacy and World Affairs, primarily studying Morocco and Iran.
Field and Logistics Supervisor
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!
Youth Programs Manager
Juan Fernandez serves the Southwest Conservation Corps as the Four Corners Director. Juan has a BS in Environmental Studies from American Military University and a JD from the University of Florida College of Law. Juan has had a wide-ranging professional career, serving nearly a decade in the Marine Corps followed by ten years as a litigation attorney before joining SCC. In both his military and legal careers Juan worked closely with governmental and non-governmental organizations on environmental issues and conservation projects. Juan is passionate for non-profit work and has helped create and serve on the boards of several non-profit organizations. Outside of work, Juan can probably be found enjoying one of the numerous outdoor recreation activities in the greater Durango area.
Four Corners Director
Michaela (she/her/hers) joined Conservation Legacy as the AIM program coordinator for the Southwest Conservation Corps in February of 2023. She is originally from Flagstaff, AZ where she first found her love for outdoors. Her teen years were spent in Sacramento, CA where she didn’t have much access to nature. She entered college with an undecided college major. Looking for direction, she found a summer at a position at Jackson Lake Lodge in the Tetons and rediscovered her love of nature and decided to pursue a career in environmentalism. After Graduating from Humboldt State University, she embarked on a few AmeriCorps terms, including AIM assessments, Mojave Desert tortoise surveys, and spotted owl/goshawk surveys in the Sierras. She has since worked as an environmental consultant but was eager to get back to non-profit work. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, backpacking, reading, playing with her dog, cooking, and learning new crafts.
Ecological Monitoring Program Coordinator
Kristen Hencke (she/her/hers) is happy to be back with Southwest Conservation Corps. Although SCC inspired her vocational passion, Kristen has always had an affinity for the outdoors. Kristen attended Fort Lewis College where she designed her own Humanities degree, focusing on Sociology and Adventure Education. Her first stint with SCC was in 2015 as a member on a sustainable forestry crew and she returned year after year to lead wildland fire, trails, and youth crews. Kristen then took a hiatus from the Corps world to work 3 seasons with the Forest Service as a Wilderness trail crew leader in Pagosa Springs, CO. Off the clock, Kristen is likely working on her Masters in Environmental Management degree; but, if there is any time left to spare, you’ll find her skiing, backpacking, taking her dog, Pondo, out for a swim, or dancing to live music.
Jacob (he/his/him) grew up in Seattle, Washington exploring the urban parks of the city, falling in love with the rainy green landscapes of the Pacific Northwest. His love for the outdoors and education moved him to pursue a degree in Outdoor Recreation and a minor in Education and Social Justice from Western Washington University.
Jacob’s first experience in conservation was with the Selway-Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation working on a crosscut saw team, logging out remote trails in the Frank Church Wilderness all summer. This experience was life changing and shifted his focus to a career in the conservation field. After that summer Jacob worked a variety of conservation jobs with the Park Service, Forest Service, Washington Trails Association and San Juan Island Conservation Corps (with a few detours along the way). As someone from the rainy Pacific Northwest, Jacob can’t wait to explore the dry red rock deserts of the SW!
Youth Programs Coordinator
Cassie (she/they) started their adventure into Conservation in 2015 when she accepted her first member season with RMYC in Steamboat Colorado. It was easy to fall in love with conservation work after a childhood of backpacking trips, hiking, fishing, skiing, swimming, climbing trees, and all such nostalgic tasks that orient kids to loving nature. Once that first season was said and done, Cassie went on to apply to SCC for the first time, in 2016. Getting another taste of what conservation work could look like with backcountry hitches, a mild introduction to chainsaws, and the crew culture of dirtbag shenanigans; There was no turning back. They dabbled in a few other positions like SCC after graduating college, such as becoming a trail intern on the island of Maui, HI and working as a cave system interpreter and guide. Cassie returned to SCC as a leader in the summer of 2020, a Field Supervisor in the year 2021, and now is excited to continue in her adventure in her current role as a Coordinator for Logistics Land.
Field and Logistics Coordinator
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.
Ecological Monitoring Program Manager
Nate was born and raised in the lakes region of New Hampshire. He first started serving with AmeriCorps programs in 2008, when he joined a wildland fire crew with AmeriCorps NCCC based in Sacramento, CA. The following year, he returned to school in Plymouth, NH to earn a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science and Policy with a concentration on Community and the Environment. Nate spent a few summers in between school semesters running trail crews with the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps based in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Following graduation, he went on to serve in leadership roles with AmeriCorps NCCC based in Vicksburg, Mississippi, the Utah Conservation Corps based in Logan, Utah, and the Texas Conservation Corps based in Austin, Texas. In 2015, Nate became a staff member with TxCC and ran their trails program for several years. Nate made the move to Flagstaff, AZ in 2018 to work in Logistics with the Arizona Conservation Corps. Nate, then moved over to a Program Coordinator role, and then to Program Manager to help oversee crews, trainings and general operations In July of 2021 Nate made yet another transitioned to Durango, CO to begin a new role with the Southwest Conservation Corps, helping run their watershed restoration program. In his free time, Nate likes to hike, kayak, boulder, and go on long road trips to pretty places.
Watershed Programs Manager
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.
Adult Programs Manager
Lane (He, Him, His) joined the SCC Four Corners team in 2021 as a Program Coordinator. He grew up along the shores of Lake Erie in Western New York. Studying exercise science and biology, while working as a Youth Development Professional he found a passion for working outdoors in the New York State Parks system. Lane started his corps career in the Adirondack Mountains with the Student Conservation Association. From there, he has worked as a youth crew leader in the San Luis Valley, coordinated historic preservation and sustainability crews in the northeast with ECC and supervised field staff and logistics out of the Durango office. Lane is so excited to have the opportunity to foster growth, provide support and spark passion in his fellow conservationists. All while serving to protect the precious natural and cultural resources of the southwest. Outside of work you can usually find Lane on a bike, selling his car or hiking to get that perfect photo!
Adult Program Coordinator
Los Valles Region • Salida, CO
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.
Ryan (he/him) joined the Los Valles office as a Field Supervisor in March of 2023. Born and raised in Fort Collins Colorado, Ryan has always had a deep love and appreciation for the mountains of his home state. He attended the University of Northern Colorado and earned a degree in Sports and Exercise Science with a minor in Nutrition. After college, Ryan spent nearly three years as a personal trainer in the Denver area, specializing in medically complex clients. In 2019, burnout was fast encroaching and in the interest of making a change, Ryan signed on as a 14er crew member with SCC Los Valles. This inspired Ryan to pursue conservation work further, leading 14er crews in 2021 and 2022. He developed a deep passion for rock work and high alpine trail building during his time with SCC Los Valles. Ryan has worked on several 14ers since the beginning of his tenure with SCC Los Valles, including Mt. Columbia, Handies Peak, Uncompahgre Peak, and Mt. Shavano.
In his free time Ryan enjoys training in the high alpine and running ultra-marathons. Ryan also enjoys ski mountaineering, climbing, eating all the pastries, and drinking all the coffee.
Pamela (she/her) joined the SCC Los Valles team in March 2023. She grew up in the state of Texas, where she studied Biology at St. Edward’s University. Through her college education, Pamela learned to work in the field, write grants, and conduct her own research. Following the completion of her degree, Pamela stepped into outdoor recreation and managed a kayak rental on Lady Bird Lake. Following that position, Pamela took her management experience to help run a local non-profit rowing club. She is excited to join the SCC as the Youth Program Manager and work on getting communities connected to their environment. Outside of work, you can find Pamela cycling, hiking, or hanging out with her dog.
Youth Program Manager
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.
Amanda joined SCC as the Administrative Specialist in March 2023. She graduated with honors from University of San Francisco School of Law, intending to practice as an environmental advocate focused on watershed restoration. Instead, she worked in affordable and low-income housing before spending a few years dirtbagging around the Southwest. She is excited to have returned to public service with this position supporting local conservation projects.
Amanda is a PMBIA certified mountain bike coach and runs skills clinics in Salida. She recently joined Chaffee County Search and Rescue as an excuse to hike and make good use of her WFR certification. In her free time, you’ll find her mountain biking, finishing the 14ers of the Sawatch, bikepacking, or recovering from these activities by reading books, doing yoga, and drinking copious amounts of bubbly water.
Jedidiah Lomax (he/him) began his current role as Field Supervisor for Southwest Conservation Corps Los Valles in Winter 2023. Born and raised in Philly, Jedi went on to study Biology at Susquehanna University, where he earned a B.S. in Biology. After graduating, he entered the conservation field in the fall of 2020 with AmeriCorps NCCC Southern region as a member of the forestry/fire module. In summer 2021, Jedi moved to Colorado to join SCC Los Valles' inaugural Leaders of Color (LOC) crew. He returned for the 2022 season to lead the LOC crew, because he wanted to pay forward the experience and confidence he gained from the previous year, while also serving as role model and resource for members of the BIPOC community. Jedi holds a W-EMT, B-faller in Chainsaw, and B-faller in Crosscut, and is passionate about making technical skills accessible, such those he has earned, to others. On his off-time, Jedi enjoys skateboarding around Salida, exploring new trails, recreational sports and a good podcast.
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.
Alexa Sharp (she/her/hers) joined the SCC Los Valles team as a Youth Program Coordinator in 2022 after serving as a Program Development and Outreach Intern with SCC LV. She grew up in Kansas and went on to study interior design and the arts at Kansas State University. In her time studying art, design, and music, her focus on inclusion and youth programming began with her experience as an instructor and mentor for the Amplify Lawrence Music Camp, a program of the Girls Rock Camp Alliance movement. Moving to Tennessee, she joined Southeast Conservation Corps as a Crew Member in the Crew Leader Development Program in the Spring of 2021. Inspired by the values of the organization and development opportunities for young people, she continued on as a Crew Leader for the Women’s Conservation Crew through the Summer and Fall of 2021 and Team Leader for the 2021 Hurricane Ida AmeriCorps Disaster Response efforts in New York City. She used these experiences toward a growing knowledge of impact within the conservation field, and the importance of inclusive programming. After the conclusion of two crew seasons and two internships, Alexa continues to be inspired by young people and serves as Youth Program Coordinator to support their growth and access to opportunity within the San Luis Valley and Upper Arkansas River Valley.
Outside of work, Alexa enjoys listening to music, playing guitar, photography, hiking and spending time outside.
Youth Program Coordinator
Trevor Taylor (he/they) began as Program Coordinator for SCC Los Valles in 2022. Born and raised in Chicago, IL, Trevor’s spark for conservation began at fifteen with his first youth member position with the Student Conservation Association in 2013. He worked every consecutive season afterwards, and eventually worked up to being Assistant Crew Leader with inner city youth for two summers. After Graduating with an B.A. in English from Iowa State University in 2019, Trevor participated in his first season with SCC Los Valles as a member on a 14ers crew. Returning the following season as a CLDP, he was recognized for his passion for addressing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion by his supervisor Tess Ryley. In 2021, Trevor developed and piloted the first Leaders of Color crew, the first BIPOC affinity crew under SCC, out of the Los Valles office with funding awarded from the Innovation Grant. For his work, he was awarded as Crew Member of the Year 2021 by the Corp Network. In his role, Trevor is excited about opening opportunities for underrepresented people in the field of conservation. In his free time Trevor enjoys reading old books, writing poetry and short stories, cooking, and fly fishing in remote mountain streams.
Adult Program Coordinator