My experiences working with the SCA as well as Friends of the Forest Preserves for the past four summers have been some of the best things that have happened to me. These experiences have allowed me to spend my days working to protect places that I love to look at. Over the course of my time spent working with the SCA I have learned a wide variety of new plants, trees, birds, and other wildlife. After this position with the Forest Preserve Leadership Corps I would like to pursue a career in forestry but for now I am going to keep enjoying cutting brush and burning brush piles!
My name is Daiva Gylys, I was born in Chicago but have lived most of my life in Kalamazoo, Michigan (yes it is a real place and no there is not a zoo). I graduated from the University of Michigan in May 2011 with a duel degree in Environmental Science and Socio-Cultural Anthropology, as well as a minor in Peace and Social Justice Studies…I have always had the problem of having a wide range of interests, which has served to be super difficult for me in choosing a career path! I think it finally hit me during a study abroad program I did in Costa Rica that focused on resource management and sustainable development. Somewhere between surveying coral reef health, exploring the ecology of coffee plantations, and interacting with community members of eco-tourism cooperatives I found my calling! Performing hands-on work in the field is my haven and working with people is my motivator.
This realization led me to finding the SCA last summer leading a community crew in Detroit where we constructed and maintained a mountain bike trail in Rouge Park. I continued my journey with the organization by moving back to Chicago and working as a crew leader for the year-round community program as well as for the summer program. I have come to learn and love the conservation opportunities that exist in the city.
In Chicago it’s almost too easy to get closed off in the whirlwind of tall buildings, non-stop traffic, and the busy mentality of city folk who seem to always walk with a mission and never stop to look around. In my eyes, the SCA attempts to break the barriers of this lifestyle by bringing vibrant pocket parks to vacant lots, encouraging youth to become involved in their communities by exploring their green spaces, and informing others on what we can do to preserve our protected lands surrounding the city. From educational nature centers, vibrant prairies, recreational trails, and wildlife viewing, the Forest Preserve District of Cook County (FPDCC) is truly a gem that in my opinion city dwellers don’t venture into enough!
I feel extremely lucky to work for the SCA and Friends of the Forest Preserves. Our team has the luxury to work from site to site within the FPDCC, explore new areas every week, and meet site stewards and new volunteers all of the time. I also get to boast that my office is a woodland, my desk is the earth, and my office supplies consist of drip torches, back-pack sprayers, loppers, and pulaskis. I wouldn’t have it any other way!
My name is Dyrell Williams but I prefer to go by Rell. I'm 19 years old and I just recently graduated from Prosser Career Acedemy. My hobbies include reading philosophy books and playing basketball. Some things about myself: I am the youngest of three siblings, my favorite movies are Disturbia and I Am Legend, and my favorite musical artist is Eminem. I have been working with the SCA for a few years through the year round program and worked this summer at the Dan Ryan Forest Preserve with a summer crew. I am really proud of the projects I have worked on through the SCA. This work has really influenced my future plans to travel and learn about different cultures and their connection to the environment.
Hi, I'm Michelle Murawski and I'm an intern with Chicago's Forest Preserve Leadership Corps Program! I live in the southwest suburbs and am currently attending Moraine Valley Community College to earn an associates degree for applied sciences. I plan on going to a larger school after to study environmental science. Being a part of the SCA is the best feeling in the world. I meet so many great people and I have fun while working! I love being a part of the change the world needs.
My name is Stephan Burns. I am a 19 year old kid that loves his city Chicago. I recently graduated from North Lawndale High School and will be joining the Marines in June of 2013. I have participated in the SCA year round program and well as the summer program for a few years and have enjoyed all of the projects we have accomplished throughout that time. I think that the biggest reason why I am a part of the SCA is because my time spent here has shown me to look at the world through the eyes of an environmentalist and to appreciate the outdoor spaces within and around the cities that people build.
Hi, I'm Deshawn Johnson. I've been working with the Student Conservation Association for the past three summers in the community program and am enjoying being able to work with the Forest Preserve Leadership Corps program. I love doing conservation work, it's something about the great outdoors that keeps me motivated. I'm now a college student at DeVry University and I want to eventually pursue a career in the environmental field and engineering. I like working with SCA and Friends of the Forest Preserves because this job allows me to be outdoors in the fresh air and it allows me to make a difference in our outdoor spaces and feel good about it.