Introducing Sandy Field Blogger Vicky Rubino

I’ll be a crew leader blogger for the new Hurricane Sandy recovery team at Gateway National Recreation Area! I’m really looking forward to leading and collaborating on this new, HUGE recovery we’re about to undertake with about 24 crew leaders and over 100 high school members! I’ll be one of two Leader Team leaders for the June Leader Crew, until the high school members begin in July, when we will split into our respective teams. There is still a great deal of planning in the works, but I can tell you, this is going to be an amazing team, and we are going to do amazing work.

I’ve been all around the northeast doing trainings in the past week and a half. I attended National Crew Leader Training in Charlestown, New Hampshire, along with my co-leader, project manager, and two program assistants, and WFA training with my old Hudson Valley Corps. Crew Leader training is so important for both new and old crew leaders. Some of my favorite aspects of training (although all are equally important!) included the Diversity and Conflict Resolution sections and the excellent team building games that go along with them! Some favorites of mine from this training: Evolution (rock paper scissors, with a twist!), Birdy on a Perch (and sizzling bacon? that’s a new component for me), and Ninja.

I love leading conservation and biological teams, doing environmental education, and getting youth excited for conservation work. It’s really nice to be back with SCA in this role. My roots with SCA go back to 2006, when I was a member of the Hudson Valley Conservation Corps, working at Rockland Lake State Park as an Environmental Educator. From there, I went on to the Southeast Exotic Plant Management Team; this is where I became very upset with invasive plants and their impact on biodiversity (if you only saw how much giant privet and wisteria we cut down!) Seeing the destruction invasive plants were causing in our National Parks led me to go back to school for my masters in Conservation Biology at Antioch University New England, and later conduct salt marsh research at Cape Cod National Seashore. Since then I’ve worked with other nonprofits, and, most recently, with the National Park Service as a lead biological science technician in Colorado.

I moved back to my hometown in Rockland County, New York, shortly before Hurricane Sandy, and witnessed the storm’s destruction. My mom and I sat in our apartment, playing Scrabble as the winds picked up, and we waited for the moment the power would eventually go out. We were lucky… we didn’t even lose our power for a day! Friends just down the road lost theirs for much longer; one of my best friends even stayed with me for awhile. Even though we had damage near me, with lengthy power outages and trees down everywhere, it still was not nearly as bad as the damage at the places where we will be working this summer. I look forward to giving back to areas I have visited throughout my life, and writing about it here!