Growing up in the Green Mountain State, my early years were spent enjoying the fresh air and soft rolling hills of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom countryside. From an early age, being outside in the neighboring woodland was one of my favorite things to do. The rural countryside offered small, trickling creeks, beautiful mountains views, and a wide variety of wildlife. This was where my love for science took root. I spent many summers camping, hiking and fishing with friends. While in junior high and high school I volunteered at the Green Mountain Conservation Camp, where I helped 12-16 year old kids develop an appreciation for the outdoors through camping, canoeing, hiking, hunter firearm safety and various other outdoor activities. This was my favorite place to spend a few weeks of my summer vacation. Throughout high school I worked at a local nursery and began to learn about plants and to appreciate have to offer.
My continued interest in the biological sciences remained strong as I entered college. I pursued a degree in biology at the University of New Hampshire for a few years, concentrating in marine biology. I finished my Bachelor of Science in Integrated Biological Sciences at the University of Vermont, concentrating in ecology, wildlife biology and Spanish. I continued working at a nursery where my interest in plants developed further. It was at UVM that I discovered the career path I wanted to take. I am now working toward building my career as a wildlife biologist/ecologist.
My first SCA experience I was in June of 2012. I was offered a position as a team member of the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Trails Inventory Program. This position was the most enjoyable job I’ve had to date. Taking inventory of trail features on hiking trails at National Wildlife Refuges all over the country was the best way I could have possibly explored this country. I traveled through states as far east as Tennessee and Alabama, all the way to the final frontier of Alaska. During this time I had so many experiences with great people in places I will remember forever. Because of this experience I decided to continue working with the SCA, this time to develop my leadership skills while working with the Army Corps of Engineers in Nashville, Tennessee for the 2013 season.
A wonderful member of the Georgia crew is Mr. Clayton Buffer. Clayton is originally from Ohio, and is very proud of his roots! He has a Bachelors Degree (BA) from Ohio State University in Comparative Studies focusing on Folklore. Although he is somewhat bummed that he is not using his degree, he has really enjoyed his past experiences with The SCA, and thus decided to continue forward by entering this wonderful program. Clayton had his first SCA experience by being a member in the eight-month long Desert Restoration Corps team. He completed conservation work- specifically focusing on trail closures, fence building, and habitat restoration. Clayton also participated in a leader team for The SCA in Dinosaur National Monument, which is located on the border of Colorado and Utah. In this crew he worked mainly on trail building and campsite rehabilitation. His personal goal for this program is to be more aware and improve his physical fitness throughout this season by taking better care of his body. His professional goal for this program is to learn how to lead in a way that all of his future members will benefit from his knowledge and skills.
Michael Cocquyt is one of the fantastic members of this riveting Georgia crew, and is originally from Upstate New York where delicious apples flow like water. He has a Bachelors Degree (BS) in Physical Education from SUNY Brockport. He also has a Masters Degree (MA) in Adaptive Physical Activity from KU Leuven. Michael brings a background that is varied in Education (both traditional and non-‐traditional settings) A big part of his past has been working with preschool aged children where he used to be known as "Mr. Mike". Mike has led a National High School Crew in Fairbanks, Alaska. Here they worked on water removal and drainage systems. Mike was also a part of a leader team for The SCA. On this Lake Tahoe crew they completed rockwork, built bridges, fences and did other forms of trail work that focused on fixing erosion issues. His personal goal for this program is to immerse himself as much as he can with the North Georgia community. His professional goal is to expand his knowledge in conservation by working both with The SCA and Army Corps of Engineers.
A native of Tulsa, OK, Joshua came to the SCA having graduated from the University of Oklahoma, where he earned his B.S. in Geographic Information Science and his Minor in Meteorology. As an undergraduate, Joshua was an active leader of his peers, involved in activities at both the university and state level. During his last year of study and briefly after graduating, Joshua also worked as a research assistant within a university laboratory where he modeled the primary productivity of agroecosystems. This work exposed Joshua to the world of intensive academic research, a previously unknown love of his.
Now, having several presentations, coauthorship of a book chapter, and a published, peer-reviewed paper under his belt, Joshua is ready to help expose individuals to the conservation opportunities in central Texas before he continues with postgraduate study. The ACE VUS Leader Team will be Joshua's third program with the SCA. Previous programs he participated in are the 2012 ACE VUS program in Tulsa, OK and a Leader Team partnering with the BLM in NM.
When not learning, writing, and researching, Joshua enjoys kicking a ball at the local soccer pitch, running through mud and dirt where ever he might find it, and helping out his family, friends, and community with any little task he can put his hands to. And much of that is exactly what his goal is this season. Getting his team dirty, working hard, and gaining some hands on field experience in a setting they'll love is what Joshua is looking forward to the most!
Sterling joins the DRC WildCorps halfway through the season with hopes of complimenting and contributing-to an already impressive team of desert restorators. This is his fifth SCA endeavor but first purely-restoration experience after primarily trail-maintenance crews. He looks forward to expanding his pallete of conservation techniques as well as practicing data collection and mapping. Sterling grew up in Maine, went to school in New York, moved to Los Angeles and then Portland, Oregon before going to work on the nation's public lands. In his free time Sterling enjoys reading, writing, making art, eating, live music and traveling.