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.
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 Manager for Southwest Conservation Corps.
Joy (she, her, hers) grew up in El Paso, TX and developed a passion for nature and the outdoors during camping trips to nearby Ruidoso, NM and summer vacations visiting National Parks with her grandparents. Graduating from UT Austin with a degree in Zoology, Joy’s professional career spans wildlife research, animal science and more recently, work as an administrative coordinator for a nonprofit nature preserve in Austin. Joy worked closely with interns and volunteers in this position and is excited to support IP members at Conservation Legacy. Personal contribution is very important to Joy and she was a volunteer Texas Master Naturalist for 6 years, participating in land stewardship and public outreach. She hopes to continue volunteering in Colorado and completed Certified Interpretive Guide training in preparation for leading hikes. When she’s not working or volunteering, Joy can be found hiking with her dog Luna, practicing Spanish or summoning the courage to ski one day.
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, 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.
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!
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!
Clara (she/her/hers) was born and raised in 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, later serving as the Individual Placements Program Manager, and now as the Four Corners Director. When she’s not working on creating stellar programming at SCC, you can find her hiking, biking, running, or skiing through the beautiful landscapes of the southwest with her dog and adventure cat, 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.
Nick (he/him/his) joined SCC in 2021 as the Forest Health Partnerships Program Manager. Nick grew up in Durango, amongst a backdrop of Southwestern mountains, rivers, and deserts. Having seen how stakeholder marginalization and inconsistent environmental stewardship challenge forests, water, and ways of life, he’s committed to catalyzing collaborative, inclusive land management and career pathway development to conserve and improve livelihoods and landscapes for the future. He has over 10 years of experience working with natural resources across the Americas. He has a Masters of Forestry from Yale University. Prior to joining SCC, he managed a large conservation ranch east of Pagosa , the Yale Forests for Yale University, and a start-up in the Upper Amazon Basin. When not working, Nick can be found cross-country skiing with his family or trail running with his dog, Napo.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Kiersten (she/her/hers) joined the SCC Los Valles team as Youth Program Coordinator in 2021. She grew up in Colorado, where she fostered a love of the outdoors, competitive lawn games, and archaeology. While pursuing a B.A. in Classical Archaeology and Anthropology from Bowdoin College (2014) and an M.A. in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology from Bryn Mawr College (2017), she participated in archaeological excavations on the Mohegan Reservation in Connecticut, at Maya sites in the Orange Walk District of Belize, and at the Greek and Roman site of Morgantina in Sicily.
After leaving academia, Kiersten was looking for other opportunities to dig around in the dirt and found a home in the conservation corps world. Over the last several years, she has worked as a crew member, CLDP, and crew leader with Southwest Conservation Corps Los Valles and is excited to be a part of expanding and strengthening SCC’s youth program in the years to come!
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
Trevor Taylor (he/him/his) 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.