Paul Schmidt, Executive Director
Paul joined the Arizona Conservation Corps in May of 2015, bringing with him experience working with a number of conservation corps across the country. Starting in 1995 as a Crew Leader with the Minnesota Conservation Corps, he continued to follow his new found passion for corps and pursued a career by working with the Northwest Youth Corps in Oregon for a couple of years. In 1998, he joined the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps where he held a variety of positions including most recently Chief Operating Officer. Paul grew up in the upper Midwest, primarily in Minnesota, and studied Natural Resources and Environmental Studies at the University of Minnesota. He is excited to make the jump across the country from Vermont to Arizona and explore the vast open landscape of the Southwest.
Email: paul (at) conservationlegacy.org.
Allison Laramee, Associate Director
Allison has been part of the AZCC family since 2006 and has worked with service and conservation corps programs since 2003. Allison was born and raised in the Green Mountain State of Vermont. After earning a B.A. in Human Studies with an emphasis in Environmental Studies from Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC, Allison moved across the country to Durango, CO and became a Crew Leader with Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC). Allison has served in several capacities with conservation corps programs over the years including a Corpsmember on the Leadership Development Program crew with Northwest Youth Corps (NYC), a Crew Leader, VISTA, and Program Coordinator with SCC, and as a supervisor with American Conservation Experience (ACE). Today Allison serves as the Regional Director and is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Flagstaff Office of the Arizona Conservation Corps program. Outside of work, Allison enjoys spending time with her wife Jamie, gardening, playing soccer, cross country skiing, and traveling.
Email: allison (at) conservationlegacy.org. or contact her at 928-310-6533.
Russ Dickerson, Operations Director
Russell grew up in the burgeoning metropolis of Phoenix, AZ. In search of a cozier and less sweltering place to live, he moved up to Flagstaff in 2003 to get his degree in History Education from NAU, and spent his summers as a camp counselor in nearby Prescott. After finishing up with school, he decided to put the ideas and knowledge he had gained from his education and camp experience to practice by taking a job with AZCC in September of 2008. Between the stunning locations, rewarding work, appalling caloric intake, and lifelong friendships here at AZCC, he would have a hard time doing anything else. When he's not out saving the world, one trail at a time, he likes to eat Mexican food, hike, canoe, play sloppy blues riffs on his guitar, root around in the garden, ride his bicycle, play astonishingly nerdy games, and most of all, sit out on the front porch with good friends and a grill full of brats.
Email: russ (at) conservationlegacy.org.
Tucker Herbert, Individual Placement Program Director
Having developed a strong connection to the land during his early Boy Scout days growing up in Maryland, Tucker first moved west to Arizona in 2008 to attend Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. After graduating from NAU in 2010 with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies, Tucker began his conservation career as a member out of the Flagstaff CREC office. Since that time, he has led various field crews for both AZCC and the SCC Ancestral Lands program on the Navajo Reservation. After serving as a Field Supervisor for SCC Durango, Tucker moved back to Arizona in 2014 to coordinate AZCC’s local programming in Tucson & Phoenix. In 2017, Tucker will be moving into a new and exciting role as the Program Director for AZCC’s Individual Placement program. In his free time, Tucker loves to be outdoors hiking and backpacking across the stunning southwestern landscape or cheering on his hometown Baltimore Ravens.
Joel Garcia, Recruitment & Member Support Director
Joel began his foray into conservation in August of 2014 as a Field Crew Supervisor for the local crew program. Prior to AZCC, Joel worked in outdoor recreation as a field leader and in outdoor education as a camp leader at the magnificent Grand Canyon National Park. Through those experiences he quickly found that the natural world is where his heart is. Since then, he has dedicated himself to experiential education in all its forms. Most notably, the local crew program at AZCC has presented Joel with the opportunity to impact the community both environmentally as well as at a grassroots level through the professional development of Corpsmembers. Outside of work, you may observe him painting, hiking, or climbing some backcountry scene, trail, or mountain!
Celia Sanchez, Administrative Manager
Celia has been working with AZCC since 2003, when it was in its infancy as the Youth Corps of Southern Arizona. Celia is responsible for the overall administrative management of AZCC and feels very honored to contribute to the mission of AZCC. In this role she oversees administrative tasks for the daily operations of AZCC and the administrative staff of Conservation Legacy. Celia was born in Chicago to Mexican parents and was fortunate to have lived in both countries at various stages of her life until she settled in Tucson over 25 years ago. When not at work, Celia enjoys spending time with her husband and two children.
Michael Meredith, Training and Logistics Director
Michael joined the AZCC community in 2016 as Training and Logistics Director. He started as a corpsmember with the Coconino Rural Environmental Corps (CREC) in 2011 and spent the subsequent years leading multiple youth and adult crews. In the summer of 2013 he co-led the first crew of Southeast Conservation Corps in Chattanooga, TN and spent a couple seasons there leading a crew under Urban Archeology Corps and eventually transitioning to Training Coordinator. He then spent a year as a Regional Restoration Trainer with American Conservation Experience (ACE). He originally comes from Murfreesboro, TN and received a BFA in Painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, MD. In between conservation seasons he has enjoyed adventures such as a thru-hike of Tennessee and dabbling in organic farming. Outside of work you could find him hiking, painting landscapes, and hanging out with his two cats Clyde and Yeti.
Afton McKusick, Field Program Director
Afton was born and raised in Flagstaff, Arizona. She began her career as a 17-year-old Youth Conservation Corps member with the Coconino Rural Environment Corps (CREC) in 2000. That is where she caught the "corps bug", and spent the next nine years working in different roles at CREC. In 2006, Afton was awarded Corpsmember of the Year, and it was at this point that she decided to dedicate her career to protecting Arizona's natural environment. After her time at CREC, she spent two seasons on a fire crew with the Coconino National Forest. Following that opportunity, Afton joined American Conservation Experience to manage and grow their restoration program. Now, after seven years of expanding that program nationally, and developing herself both personally and professionally, she is excited to return to her home region in order to help conserve and protect Arizona's natural wonders. When not working Afton can be found playing with her puppies and horses and going on adventures, hiking, fishing, hunting, and kayaking with her family and partner Kevin.
Emily Storjohann, Administrative Assistant
Emily grew up in the fine state of Iowa. Much of her extended family are farmers– something she has always found admirable. She is inspired by her Dad, the hardest working person she knows! Emily always knew she wanted to move out of the state to learn more about herself and see new places. It wasn't until many years after college that she had that opportunity. She and her husband Andrew decided it was the right time to take the leap and move to a new and exciting place–Flagstaff! They bought a business and began to put down roots. She has always loved the outdoors and being in such a beautiful and diverse place makes all the adventures even that much better! Every time she sees the beauty around her she feels very thankful to now live in Arizona. She's looking forward to a new adventure with AZCC, working with others who care about the world around us.
Zoe Gordon, Recruitment & Member Support Coordinator
Zoe grew up in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. She first began her career in conservation as a teenager when she joined the Virginia Youth Conservation Corps at the age of 14. Since then she has been inspired to work and play in the outdoors. She graduated from Warren Wilson College with a B.A. in Creative Writing, before heading west for new adventures. She joined the AZCC family as a Corpsmember in 2009. Since then Zoe has also worked with The Arboretum of Flagstaff, the Northwest Outward Bound School, and for the Southeast Conservation Corps as a VISTA, Crew Leader, and Trips for Kids Program Coordinator and Recruitment Assistant. After some time away, Zoe felt the pull to return to the desert and joined the staff at Arizona Conservation Corps as a Recruitment Assistant. When Zoe is not at work she likes to spend her time hiking, backpacking, silversmithing, or hanging out with her cat Clyde.
Matt Hurst, Field Program Coordinator
As a Field Program Coordinator based out of Flagstaff, Matt communicates with project partners and crew leaders to get projects on the ground. He began as a corpsmember in 2012, and worked his way up through leadership to his current staff role. He is often in the office but relishes every opportunity to go back in the field and get dirty doing work with crews. Matt is a Wilderness First Responder and a Wilderness First Aid Instructor through Desert Mountain Medicine. He graduated from the University of Arizona with a B.A. in Political Science.
Sara Van Marel, Youth Conservation Corps Program Coordinator
Sara grew up in the great state of Iowa where she learned to love the great outdoors at a young age. After 18 years of learning how to make baked good with the most butter possible, she moved to the frozen north country of Minnesota to attend college in Bemidji, the first city on the Mississippi. When Minnesota was not far north enough she embarked on her first Corps experience joining SAGA in Juneau, AK. Six months of conditions wet enough to grow mold on her clothes was enough! From the damp forests of Alaska she moved to Arizona to join CREC in 2011 and has never thought of leaving the desert or the corps world since. Convincing people that invasive plant removal is the coolest is one of her greatest passions. As the new YCC coordinator she hopes to convince the next generation to be part of the downfall of plants like dalamation toadflax and tamarisk.
Victor Chandler-Cremades, Logistics Coordinator
Victor joined the AZCC family in the summer of 2010 as a corpsmember. He grew up in the Valley of the Sun and moved to Flagstaff to attend NAU in 2008. After falling in love with working and living outside, he took flight to New England to apply his trade with Vermont Youth Conservation Corps and then down south to try his hand at teaching with Mountain Trail Outdoor School in North Carolina. However, the allure of the southwest was too great; in 2015 he returned to AZCC and has supported crews in a variety of positions since then. When not tinkering in the shop, Victor likes to cook, cross country ski, and make things out of wood.
Kevin Kennedy, Logistics Technician
Kevin grew up moving around the Midwest, Washington, Arizona, and finally to Flagstaff in 2011 to pursue a degree in Parks and Recreation Management at NAU. He joined AZCC in 2012 as a Corpsmember and did a couple summer terms while attending NAU. During the school year he worked at various places in Flagstaff as a mechanic. Once he graduated he stayed full time with AZCC since January 2015, leading two YCC crews, a field crew, and two MDP crews. Now he works with the logistics team to keep our crews supported in the field. Kevin's goal is to connect people to the outdoors through hard work and community. He also enjoys backpacking, rock climbing, and being a part of the Coconino County Search and Rescue team.
Michelle Norris, Field Supervisor
Michelle grew up in California and moved out to Arizona in 2009 to go to NAU for a B.S in Forestry. She joined AZCC in the summer of 2012 as a Corpsmember and loved the experience so much that she decided to come back after graduating and serve on six more crews. Working her way from Corpsmember to Field Assistant, Michelle now enjoys working with crews in the Verde Valley helping to forever remove invasive plants along the Verde River. When she is not working, she enjoys going on Norris family backpacking trips and adventuring to anywhere she hasn’t been yet. She would love for you to stop by the Purdy Verde and help save the world, one tamarisk at a time.
Sergio Simon, YCC Field Supervisor
Biography and photo coming soon!
James Pitts, Field Program Coordinator
James first came to AZCC Tucson in the spring of 2009 as a Corpsmember on a backcountry saw crew, shortly thereafter serving on the Crew Leader Development Program and going on to lead a variety of AZCC crews throughout the Southwest, where he developed a strong passion and desire for serving alongside today's youth completing conservation projects. James' love of the outdoors was instilled at a very young age while adventuring through the mountains of Appalachia and the swamplands of the South. Upon returning to Tucson, his interest in the Sonoran Desert and the surrounding mountains grew exponentially, and often times you will find him searching out rare sources of water in the desert, crawling into/out of hidden caves, and enjoying the history of the Southwest while soaking up the Arizona sunshine.
DeeAnn Oldsen, Logistics Technician
DeeAnn joined Arizona Conservation Corps in the Spring of 2017. DeeAnn started her work in conservation with Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources as an AmeriCorps trail crew member after completing her B.S. of Forestry at Iowa State University in 2012. She continued her work in conservation working for Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources, Utah Conservation Corps, and Southwest Conservation Corps. She has served as an Adult Crew Leader, Field boss, and Veterans Fire Corps Crew Leader. She now serves as the Logistics Technician supporting field crews’ logistical needs. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, and exploring the outdoors with friends.
Jay Snowdon, Logistics Coordinator
Jay began his adventure with corps at the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps (VYCC) in 2009. After three seasons in Vermont, Jay was sent to North Carolina to help pioneer a new partnership between the VYCC and the Conservation Trust for North Carolina to help bring youth into the outdoors for North Carolina’s first statewide conservation corps. Looking for a chance to expand his Corps repertoire, Jay spent the next year as a Field Boss at the Utah Conservation Corps mainly supervising chainsaw crews and working on eradicating Russian Olive from the Escalante canyons in southern Utah. For two years in the great Gem State, he served as a Program Coordinator for Idaho Conservation Corps. Jay came to AZCC in July of 2017. Jay spends his spare time climbing, skiing, and exploring the wilderness.
Tyler Groff, Recruitment Coordinator
Tyler first moved to Tucson, AZ for an AmeriCorps term with a bike/youth program through the Pima Prevention Partnership. Although it took some time, being in Tucson brought a sense of place and home. This was rather new for Tyler as he spent his college years in Virginia, a few years of middle school in his familial home of Lancaster, PA, and most of childhood and high-school growing up in Cambodia. In college, Tyler earned a four year liberal arts degree in Peacebuilding and Development with a minor in Economics. Degrees which have both fed and fueled a desire to better understand how the world works and more importantly how we can work together to make the world a better place. Tyler first joined AZCC as a camping crew member in Jan 2015, worked as an assistant crew leader on a Tucson local crew in the fall of that year and then went on to lead both a camping crew and another local crew the year after. All of those experiences have imparted in Tyler a love for the great outdoors, trails and chainsaws, but especially left an indelible passion for seeing young people get to experience the world in a new way, and to grow and develop as part of a team.
Amanda Goldstein, Local Program Coordinator
Amanda grew up in a small town in northwestern New Mexico, spending the summers exploring the grandeur of southwestern Colorado's San Juan Mountains. At 18, she left home for the study of the liberal arts in the frozen cornfields of Oberlin, Ohio. Four years and an honors degree in Environmental Studies later, Amanda booked it back to the Great Southwest. Back in the mountains and deserts, she discovered Corps World, a perfect amalgam of environmental stewardship, community engagement, and a life for youth beyond the screens of technology. From 2011 to 2016, Amanda served as a crew leader and a field assistant for several corps. In between corps seasons, she hiked the Pacific Crest Trail and later the Arizona Trail, where she was inspired to return permanently to Arizona and AZCC. In her free time, Amanda enjoys canyoneering, the casual climb, and hiking with her 100-pound Newfoundland mutt, Jacy.
Megan Smedley, Administrative Assistant
Megan first became involved with AmeriCorps after completing a six month backcountry season with the California Conservation Corps in 2013. After completing a rugged season with the CCC's she wanted to utilize her passion for the outdoors and youth development.
This led Megan to seek out a leadership position with the Arizona Conservation Corps. She served as an Assistant Crew Leader for two seasons and then worked her way up to a Crew leader position for a full-time saw crew during her final season in 2015. She is now a student at the University of Arizona studying Environmental Science and the Administrative Assistant at the Tucson office. During the hot summer months she fulfills her craving for hard work in the outdoors by serving on a Wildland Fire crew within the Region III district.
Jesse Reeck, Program Coordinator
Jesse was raised on Hickory Nut Gap Farm outside of Asheville, North Carolina. A child of the Appalachian Mountains, she grew up hiking and horseback riding along trails that definitely needed better switchbacks and erosion control. She became a high school social studies teacher after earning a B.A. in Political Science at the University of Chapel Hill (Go, Heels!) and an M.A. in Teaching at Duke (Boo, Blue Devils!). Having met her future Arizonan husband in the rainforests of Suriname, South America, she was carried off to the southwest in 2007. Here she continued her career in education, teaching social studies, language arts, math, gifted education, P.E., and music to students age 3 to 63. In 2012, along with her husband Adam and their friend Mike Gaffney, she co-founded the White Mountain Youth Corps (WMYC), serving as Education Coordinator. In 2014, WMYC joined the AZCC merger, and in 2016, Jesse returned to the Corps team to support program development in the White Mountains. She currently has switched out her 2-person backpacking tent for a car-camping monstrosity/bounce house that accommodates her two children, but still loves getting out in the mountains hiking, horseback riding, and trying to figure out how to stop going downhill on cross country skis.
Kyle Trujillo, Local Program Coordinator
Kyle started with AZCC in the summer of 2014, having left the heat of Phoenix for the heat of a fireplace in Flagstaff. After serving three terms as Assistant Crew Leader and Crew Leader of saw and trail crews, he again moved to Lakeside, AZ to work as Field Assistant and eventually became Local Program Coordinator for the White Mountains operations of AZCC. Before joining, he worked in construction and facilities maintenance in the greater Phoenix area and is grateful to be able to breathe deeply and work in the most beautiful places in the Southwest (especially Rim Country). In his spare time, he enjoys playing guitar, penning words that don’t really rhyme, and talking about the most exhilarating sport in all the world: baseball.