Our time here in Kansas is over, and we are all departing our separate ways. Some of us have decided to continue serving the SCA, while others have decided to enter graduate school. Looking back at our experience in Kansas the duration seemed so short. We have learned so much about each member by living together and we developed bonds that will last a lifetime.
Please find attached the final report for our, and all the other ACE VUS teams.
The preconceived idea of what to expect while in Kansas was abruptly shattered. When we arrived we were shocked by the landscape, we had expected a flat wheat field ridden area. Some of us were fearful of abundant tornadoes, but due to an unusual drought, we escaped any significant severe storm. We knew that it would be hot, and again due to unusual weather patterns, we were unprepared for the intensity and duration of the heat.
While on Army Corps land, we were able to enjoy many sunrises and sunsets at our work sites. The Army Corps staff was friendly and always helped when the opportunity presented itself. They were very grateful for the volunteer work we offered and tried to utilize us on all of their significant projects. The members learned much from the conservation projects and from the Army Corps staff.
Hitch Report 6 
In wrapping up the last two weeks of our survey season there was so much to do. The team held a meeting to address what we were going to do for the final project and plan what we needed to get done to complete the season and head home. We had one of our last conservation projects at Perry Lake where we helped deconstruct an old sunken boat docks and cleaned up the shoreline. We had a regular survey hitch, but this time we were able to switch partners weekly instead of biweekly. This way we all were able to work with each other and see all of the sites.
On our last survey week we found that we had make-up days to do. Some of our team members stepped up to take double shifts at our farthest sites in hopes to keep our last week in Kansas survey-free. Our final conservation day, we cleared a line for fencing to protect native grasses from visiting horses and mule grazing at Clinton Lake. This fence will also protect the horses from roaming past the equestrian parks until corrals can be installed. We had our final official team meeting to discuss the upcoming landlord walkthrough, paperwork, and exit activities we would be doing the upcoming week.
Our final week in Kansas we had two makeup days at Perry Lake and Milford Lake. We took advantage of the site setup at Perry Lake to make our final project videos. We did a lot work our last week: cleaning and packing, completing paperwork, writing essays, finishing time logs and activity logs, returning equipment to the US Army Corps of Engineers, and recycling. We still continue to work on maintaining house cleanliness, emptying the house of furniture, and organizing how to get all that we have accumulated home with us. We are excited for our bittersweet final dinner out in the town of Lawrence.
Hitch Report 5 
Beginning the last month, everyone had a change of scenery with a new partner or new set of survey sites. The job continues smoothly and without many surprises, except for the unusual characters we sometimes run into at the parks. For our conservation projects we went back to the Kansas University Medicinal/Community Garden to check on Raven’s plot. There we helped with weeding & watering and got to leave with some fresh veggies. The second week, we coordinated with a team of Army Corps of Engineer Rangers and Wildlife and Park interns at Clinton Lake to make fish habitats. First, the crew worked to cut down cedars. These were brought onto a boat and wired to cement blocks. They were sunk into the river to provide habitat for growing fish populations. It was a rewarding experience, but this was definitely a challenging day because the tasks were particularly arduous. We learned a lot about how they manage and control the fish populations. We especially enjoyed the chance to get out on the water and interact with other interns for this conservation project.
Now back in the house, we have started thinking about our final project. We have thrown out some ideas for what we could do like making instructional videos for the Army Corps of Engineers or (if we are feeling adventurous) possibly directing a music video. We are still planning conservations projects for the rest of the summer. Hopefully we will be able to make it back to Clinton to help with the fish habitats again. We are also making arrangements for mass clean-up of the house, because there are only three short weeks left until we go our separate ways.
Hitch Report 4 
With over half of the summer completed, the temperatures are beginning to cool down and we have all settled in nicely to our daily obligations and expectations. Surveys are growing in frequency at some sites, and we are all getting better at encouraging visitors to agree to them (casual enthusiasm and common courtesy are the keys). Also, we have now worked on our disc golf course project at Perry Lake for a couple of weeks now. While the disc golf course remains a consistent project, if the opportunity presents itself, two team members are allowed to venture outside typical responsibilities and shadow a ranger, conduct GIS data collection, and other activities.
Hema, the hitch leader for the week beginning week of this hitch, organized for Tom and herself to go on a ranger patrol at Melvern Lake. They learned a lot about zebra mussels, an invasive species in the lakes, history of the town, and the dams at the lake. After each conservation project, we have team meetings. This meeting we received our survey stats including our survey numbers, refusal numbers, and percentiles. This was quite a motivation tool for the team. We went into our next workdays ready to improve our numbers and competitive as ever.
As hitch leader, we are responsible for planning out the supplementary conservation projects. We were fortunate enough to gain permission from Clinton Lake staff to shadow Ranger Kipp. Jasmine and John Tyler began the day by learning what weather measurements Army Corps of Engineers staff takes at each lake every morning. They include precipitation, wind speed, and evaporation rate. Also, we learned how to check each measurement. While some of the measurements look rather primitive, they are highly accurate. Specifically, there is a pool of water used to measure the evaporation rate of the lake. Interestingly enough, Clinton Lake loses more water to evaporation than it does providing municipal water to the city of Lawrence, Kansas (population 90,000). We spent the rest of the day riding around with Kipp to check the traffic meters at various parks around the lake. At every site except one, they use infrared sensors that record cars, deer, and even spiders. We helped align the sensors with their corresponding reflective strips across roads. At the end of the week, Jasmine got in contact with Melvern Lake to organize boat patrol dates and water sampling dates for future conservation days. Hema and Jill received a contact for a project at Perry Lake for a Marina project so the next hitch kicks off just as smooth.
Hitch Report 3 
The Kansas Crew has gotten into the flow of surveying. Teams have been switched and everyone’s morale has improved. We had a fun on our conservation day doing GIS. John Tyler led two others as they explored Perry Lake looking for water valves. The following week at Kansas University Medical/ Community Garden, we garnered fresh vegetables while picking weeds. We learned about common garden pests with Raven, who was our head chef at training. We were also taught about organic natural pesticides. The garden is beautiful and includes activities which interest everyone in the team. To make our time in Lawrence even better than it already was, three members of the Oklahoma Army Corps of Engineer Survey crew came to visit. We got to show them around Lawrence and exchange work stories. Exploring Kansas University Campus and their Natural History Museum was quite the adventure. Hopefully we can make a trip down there to see them in Oklahoma.
Hitch Report 2 
The first month came and went for the crew here in Kansas! Our groups have been doing a great job with the surveys, and we enjoy getting to know the regulars at our lakes. Our team change-ups went very smoothly, and we’re enjoying the change of scenery and working with our new partners.
The conservation projects have been just as successful as the surveys. We continued our work at Clinton Lake with Ranger Dave Rhodes, and installed water bars into the trail that we had previously maintained. This was the first time a few of us got to use certain tools, so it was pretty exciting to learn a new skill.
Our team enjoys spending as much time together as possible, and took advantage of having the 4th of July off. We went on a two day camping trip to Perry Lake and Clinton Lake, and enjoyed the fireworks that the City of Lawrence displayed on the holiday. We enjoy regularly cooking on the grill and visiting the many museums that Lawrence and KU have to offer.
Hitch Report 1 
On Wednesday May 30th, we arrived at the Kansas City airport at 4:15pm. The next day we discussed our food preferences and our shopping list. We had a shopping list and started noting supplies for the house. As hitch leader, John Tyler Barnes started his hitch duties. Next, our team visited Clinton Lake, spoke with Park Ranger David Rhodes and gathered cones and other safety equipment that had arrived.
Having solidified team members’ responsibilities in regards to cooking and cleaning, our team was delineated into pairs and assigned our survey sites. On Sunday, June 3rd, teams traveled to their respective sites to get familiar with each site’s particular amenities and discuss practical locations to survey visitors. The next day, Dan traveled with teams to their sites to further analyze proper survey “set up” sites. This preliminary work really prepared our crew for our first week of work.
Throughout the following week, our team identified goals for the summer, planned meals for the next month (the food database prepared by Alex Olsen was a big help), and continued to plan for the start of our surveys. On Monday, June 11th, our crew worked its first Conservation Day. Ranger David Rhoades at Clinton Lake had various tasks allocated to our team. The first part of the day, we performed trail maintenance on a ¾ mile loop of trail behind the visitor’s center. Then, we restored a children’s playground in the afternoon.
Finally, we began our first week of work. For all three teams, the first day was pretty slow. We arrived at our sites about an hour before our survey start time to ensure that we had plenty of time to set up. Although there were only a few full surveys given out, it was still good to arrive early the first couple days. Later in the week, a few sites, particularly those that encompass a multitude of recreational amenities, really accelerated in visitation. By the weekend, all three teams had instituted a strategy for relaying information, and keeping visitors calm and interested in taking surveys.
Tom Mason 
My name is Tom Donald Mason. I am from the D.C, Maryland, Virginia metropolitan area; however, I graduated from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio with a degree in Liberal Arts with minor in African Studies. I chose this major because it afforded me the Freedom to pursue any career path I desired. During college, I aided international students adjust to the American Way as well as led the African Student Association, Props to my Sierra Leonean Heritage!
Social Services has really lit my fire. Community and country development is my true passion. Beyond the SCA, I will either become a Foreign Ambassador or director of a Community Center. The SCA attracted me due to the fact that the foundations of any strong and healthy community of any scale are the environment and youth. The SCA protects and develops both. I am excited to be a part of this long standing movement.
Training Report 
In May, we went to River Ranch, a Girl Scout Camp in Carnation, Washington for our 10 day training program with the Student Conservation Association. We started our training by learning about the SCA, member expectations, the safety protocol that we will be following, and rules and regulations. For 3 days during our training we worked with Aerie Wilderness Medicine, and became certified in CPR and Wilderness First Aid. Everyone loved working with Aerie and seemed to grasp a lot of information in the short amount of time we were given. We also took a refresher course in safe driving and learned about vehicle maintenance. Some of us did not have much experience under the hood or changing a tire, so this training was very helpful!
The Army Corps of Engineers arrived at the end of our training to prepare us for our summer internships. We spent some time learning the background of the Army Corps of Engineers, the importance of the information that we will be collecting, and the expectations they have for us. We were introduced to some cool features of Google Earth and were trained in roadside interviews. We all really enjoyed the extreme scenarios that they set up for us, to help us prepare for every situation that we may encounter this summer.
One of our favorite parts of the training was all of the new people we were able to meet especially our fellow Kansas team members. The training brought together Army Corps of Engineers Visitor Use Survey Interns from across the country, as well as other SCA programs like trail maintenance crew and fish tracks.
We all really enjoyed our free time spent with other interns. On our day off a group of ACE VUS interns climbed Mount Si. The 2.2 mile hike brought us to beautiful view of the surrounding mountains. During our free time, we gathered with our newfound friends for the best card game ever, Mafia. We, also had a night where we learned contra dancing. Our amazing Kitchen Manager, Raven, introduced us to contra dancing and lives in Kansas. Hopefully, she will bless us with her skills and teach us some techniques as well.
The Kansas Crew can’t wait to begin our work with the Army Corps of Engineers and to have the opportunity to contribute to the management of these beautiful lakes in the region. We are excited to get involved with some great conservation projects in the surrounding communities and lakes while taking the opportunity to explore Kansas.
Hema Kondur 
I am incredibly excited for this opportunity -- spending the summer outdoors among the beautiful lakes of Lawrence, Kansas will be an adventure for sure. To let you know a little about me, my name is Hema (Hey-ma) and I am a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I hail from Augusta, Georgia, somewhere you probably have never heard of unless you are interested in golf. I was born and raised there and have a big family with two brothers and two sisters. For fun, I really enjoy pleasure reading, something I do not get to do often unless you count my online subscription to Scientific American. I also love activities on the water like canoeing, kayaking, tubing, and white water rafting.
I obtained my degree in Public Health in a program which specializes in the causes, consequences, prevention, and treatment of disease in respect to medical nutrition and other areas critical to public health. I spent my years at Carolina actively participating in HIV/AIDS arts advocacy in North Carolina, grassroots advocacy in Uganda, and political advocacy locally. I plan to pursue an M.D./Ph.D degree for clinical HIV/AIDS research.
You may be wondering -- what is this girl doing in Kansas? My desire to work with SCA comes from my deep-seated enthusiasm for new people and new places. I have been very focused on my career path and I’d like to pause for a moment to challenge myself and expand my horizons. I am delighted for the opportunity to be trained in Wilderness First Aid and gain valuable experience in data collection. I identify with the mission of the SCA and am thrilled to learn, explore, and grow in the next few months.
Jillian Hurd 
My name is Jillian Hurd and I grew up in Taunton, MA, a small city 30 minutes south of Boston. When I was 18, I moved to the city to attend the University of Massachusetts Boston. While I was pursing a B.S. in Environmental, Earth, and Ocean Sciences, I was very active on campus. I was a member of the women’s soccer team, captain of the women’s tennis team, and worked as an Orientation Leader and Beacon Ambassador, two very competitive positions.
After graduating in 2010, I briefly volunteered with an organization in the Boston area called Science Club for Girls. We stressed the importance of educating young girls in science, math, engineering and technology. Shortly after, I moved to Pittsburgh, PA and began working with Pittsburgh Cares, a non-profit organization focused on volunteering. I worked as a change leader with Pittsburgh Young Leaders Academy, a program designed to bring city high school students closer to their communities through service projects and volunteering.
I am excited to begin working with the Army Corps of Engineers this summer as a SCA intern. I can’t think of a better way to jumpstart my career in conservation. I hope to gain some great skills, grow as an individual, and can’t wait to start working with my Kansas Crew!
John Tyler Barnes 
My name is John Tyler Barnes (J.T.), and I am from Asheville, North Carolina. Growing up in the Blue Ridge Mountains, I was privileged to be immersed in such a gorgeous natural environment. Snowboarding, mountainboarding, camping and trail running have all contributed to the awesomeness of life, and to my appreciation of the environment.
In the last decade, suburban sprawl and sporadic land use change have encroached on natural areas I’ve always cherished. These dynamic economic/social processes made urban planning particularly enticing as a potential career. I studied Community & Regional Planning and Geographic Information Systems at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. I find it incredible that it’s possible, albeit difficult, to actually make positive impacts on not only individual lives, but entire towns and communities. I chose to intern with the Student Conservation Association because it embodies the ideals of the planning discipline and responsible stewardship of the land.
In the future, I intend on expanding on my SCA experience through independent travel and research. Ideally, I would like to teach English in rural South America and incorporate those experiences into further investments in others and myself. Later, when I actually grow up, I intend to pursue a Master’s degree in Urban & Regional Planning and hopefully help change the urban (suburban) fabric of the United States.
Jasmine Jones 
Recently graduated from Schreiner University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology with a concentration in environmental science, I was eager to commence the application of my acquired skills. During my undergraduate years I was active in many professional science organizations and various non-science leadership positions, mentoring programs, research in plant sciences, ecological surveys, and stewardship projects. I also designed and instructed entomology curriculum for a field based ecology program newly implemented in February of 2012.
In my endeavors to travel across the nation expanding on conservation efforts and contributing my acquired skills to the sustainable industries, my search for the launch of my career has brought me to the SCA. As an Army Corps Visitor Use Survey member and contributor to all of conservation projects my crew is conducting, I hope to acquire new skills, expand my network, disseminate awareness, and add to the productivity of our efforts.
This will be my third year with SCA. In 2010, I was a corps member on a trail crew in the Joyce Kilmer Wilderness Area in North Carolina. Last year I was an intern for the SCA with Friends of Nevada Wilderness in Las Vegas, Nevada. Before that, I worked for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for years. I attended college in Illinois where I majored in Geography. My interest now is to achieve a bachelor of science in biology.
I have always enjoyed nature. As a kid, my parents would take me camping. When I was old enough, I was enrolled in Cub Scouts and I eventually made it into Boy Scouts. During my time as a Scout, I learned some useful survival techniques and I became more intrigued by nature. I started planning more and more camping trips, but living in Illinois did not offer the type of nature I craved. My realization of the importance of our land came once I took a trip to Boundary Waters. Afterwards, I was hooked on wilderness.
Before working for the SCA I worked for UPS. I eventually became a driver but I did not like my job. I took a break from UPS and went to school part time. Once the semester was over, I took a job in Washington as a Finish Carpenter. I enjoyed working with my hands and building objects from blueprints. Unfortunately, the housing market crashed and I was nearly out of work. I returned to school and began researching the SCA. After the semester back at school, I decided that I was going to serve with the SCA.
My love of the out-of-doors and concern for the environment led me to the Student Conservation Association. I only have one regret - I wish I knew about it when I was a high school student! I look forward to serving with the SCA again.
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