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.
Juan Fernandez currently serves as the Southwest Conservation Corps Intermin Corps 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.
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.
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 fostering an ecosystem of diversity, equity, and inclusion to better reflect the myriad of identities, backgrounds, and complexities of the communities that SCC and Conservation Legacy serve.
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.
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 (He/Him) is originally from Chicago where he worked for Audubon Great Lakes and the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. Seth grew up kayaking the Chicago River and growing rhubarb in his backyard. He joined SCC Four Corners in 2021 and has served as a Youth CLDP, Chainsaw Crew CLDP, and Field Supervisor for Youth and Adult programs. Seth enjoys charcuterie, chainsaws, linocut printing and tinkering in the barn at the Old Fort. He speaks Arabic and has a degree in Diplomacy specializing in Middle Eastern Politics and History. He is passionate about the ecological, economic, and social benefits that SCC programming provides to its members to the communities it operates in.
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!
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.
Kristen Hencke Barrett (she/her/hers) is happy to be back with Southwest Conservation Corps! SCC inspired her vocational passion, but 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 and obtained a master's in environmental management from Western Colorado University. Off the clock, Kristen is likely skiing, hiking, taking her dog, Pondo, out for a swim, seeing a concert, or simply chillin at home with a good home cooked meal.
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!
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.
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.
Los Valles Region • Salida, CO
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.
Emma (she/her/hers) joined the SCC Los Valles team as the Adult Program Coordinator in 2024. Emma earned her Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she also studied marine sciences and social & economic justice. Emma has worked as an educator in multiple capacities around the globe, from The Bahamas to Ethiopia. She combined her passion for education and conservation while serving with AmeriCorps and The Nature Conservancy, where she coordinated educational programming in coastal Virginia. Most recently, Emma worked in seabird conservation on Kauaʻi, Hawaiʻi, where she expanded her fieldwork skills. New to Salida, Emma is thrilled to be involved in the local community and to facilitate the engagement of young leaders in meaningful stewardship projects. When not at work, she can be found playing the fiddle, painting watercolor landscapes, or identifying wildlife while hiking and mountain biking.
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.
Brittany (she/her) joined Conservation Legacy in July of 2023 as the Adult Program Manager for Southwest Conservation Corp Los Valles. Brittany has an MS in Plant Biology from Washington State University with research experience studying the effects of wildfire on the soil microbiome and subsequent post-fire forest regeneration. Her love for all things restoration and conservation was heightened by her time as a Rocky Mountain Land Management Fellow and Wilderness Researcher with the USFS. In addition to her time with the USFS, Brittany combined her love of nature with her love for teaching while working as a lead instructor for Colorado Mountain College’s Outdoor Recreation Leadership degree program and High Mountain Institute. When Brittany isn’t busy with her research, teaching, and conservation work, she can be found rock or ice climbing, gardening, hiking with her dogs and husband, or volunteering with Chaffee County Search and Rescue - North. Brittany is thrilled to be applying her experience as a scientist, educator, and outdoor enthusiast to the Adult Program Manager Position with SCC.
Starting my journey as a crew member with AZCC in the breathtaking Grand Canyon, my passion for the outdoors was ignited. Transitioning to an AmeriCorps VISTA member, I developed a youth volunteering program, inspiring me to empower underserved youth and foster community engagement. Currently pursuing a master's degree in Transpersonal Ecology and Outdoor Education, I am eager to deepen my understanding of youth programs and their profound connection to the natural world. When I'm not working, you'll find me exploring new hobbies, immersing myself in nature, and nurturing my beloved plants. Quality time with my doggo is always a priority. As the Youth Program Coordinator, I am thrilled to establish meaningful connections and empower the next generation on their transformative journey.
Trevor Taylor (he/they) began as Program Coordinator for SCC Los Valles in 2022 and has since transitioned into the Logisitics Manager Role for SCC Los Valles. 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.