Peter Grella

From New Jersey, I went to Allegheny College in Pennsylvania and received a degree in music while maintaining heavy extracurricular involvement in my campus environmental service group. Late in my undergraduate career with my degree requirements in hand, I earned some credits on several environmental science courses and an internship in the city’s redevelopment office. After graduating with the problematic prospects that music majors of liberal arts colleges graduate with, though, I felt that perhaps my potential career was in environmental work after all.

After a stint floating around and taking classes to shore up my science literacy, I went to graduate college at the University of Michigan and received a master’s degree in Environmental Policy and Planning. I worked there on research in forestry, land use change, and campus sustainability. Also, while there I became a recreational road cyclist and a trip leader for the outdoors branch of the athletic department, every few weeks leading groups of students for camping and hiking at state and national parks and teaching backcountry skills. One day after graduation while needing a foot in the door of a career related to my education and interests, I was alerted to an opening in the SCA Trail Town Outreach Corps, a position in a program that works on and leverages the Great Allegheny Passage biking trail and other environmental and recreational assets of southwestern Pennsylvania and mountain Maryland to influence economic development in the region’s communities. That seemed like an uncanny combination of my background experiences, so hot dog, yes please!