Alumni Council

Since our Alumni Council was formed in 2007, our mission is to organize alumni in support of SCA and SCA’s Alumni Engagement Plan. Whether through assisting as volunteer leaders at service days, helping organize outreach events, or contributing content to SCA’s blog and social media pages, the Alumni Council works to build community and engagement among SCA alumni.

Each year, current council members select new recruits from alumni nationwide for a two-year term. With a diversity of SCA service backgrounds – from former high school crew members, to special initiative interns, to year-long conservation corps programs – Alumni Council members represent the wide range of SCA’s programs and locations. Each member is equipped to represent and connect with SCA’s 100,000 alumni.

Specifically, the Alumni Council goals are to:

  • Support SCA service projects and alumni-focused events including social, professional development and continued learning opportunities
  • Contribute to SCA’s online content in the form of blog posts, social media sharing, and editorial writing
  • Build support for, and strengthen, SCA’s reputation as the nation’s preeminent youth conservation organization among partner organizations, agencies, and the general public
  • Serve as a source of counsel for SCA staff and board members, as requested

Email [email protected] if you have any questions about the council or if you are interested in being considered for the AC. Recruitment of new members begins in November each year.

Alumni Council Bios

CHAIR: Tony Gurzick, Denver, CO


Name: Tony Gurzick
Current Location: Denver, CO
SCA Program(s) Served: National high school trail crew Rocky Mountain National Park (1985)
Current Position: After 30 years with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Tony retired in 2021 and is now working as a private consultant.
Education Background: B.S. Wildlife Biology, Colorado State University; Masters of Public Administration, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs; Certified Wildlife Biologist, The Wildlife Society

VICE CHAIR: Deidra Goodwin, Asheville, NC


Name: Deidra Goodwin
Current Location: Asheville, NC
SCA Program(s) Served: Grand Teton National Park Service Academy (2016), Environmental Education Intern New River Gorge National River (2016 NPSA position), Historical Interpretation Intern Minuteman National Historical Park (2016), Grand Teton National Park Service Academy Peer Mentor (2017)
Current Position: ACE EPIC Member Coordinator for the NPS division (overseeing National Park Service Academy)
Education Background: B.A. Integrated Studies (Florida Gulf Coast University); M.S. Recreation & Sport Administration (Western Kentucky University); M.S. Experiential & Outdoor Education (Western Carolina University; expected 2023)

SECRETARY: Elyria R Little, Medina, OH


Name: Elyria R Little
Current Location: Medina, OH
SCA Program(s) Served: Pacific Crest Trail Roving Backcountry Crew (2004), Randolph Mountain Club Trail Crew (2006)
Current Position:Consultant and small business owner at Home Harmonizers, LLC; Programming & Communications Manager with Michelle Belanger, LLC
Education Background: B.A. in Environmental Studies (Vassar College) & M.S. in Environmental Management and Sustainability (IIT), LEED AP

Celeste Arista Glover, Dallas, TX


Name: Celeste Arista Glover
Current Location: Dallas, TX
SCA Program(s) Served:Summer Work Crew at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park (2000); Summer Work Crew at Yellowstone National Park (2002); Intern at NOAA National Marine Fisheries Santa Rosa, CA (2008)
Current Position: Senior Community Philanthropy Officer at Communities Foundation of Texas
Education Background:B.A. in Biology (University of Texas at Austin) and M.A. in Community Development and Planning (Clark University, Worcester)

Kelly Burnett, Houston, TX


Name: Kelly Burnett
Current Location: Houston, TX
SCA Program(s) Served:Centennial Volunteer Ambassador, Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (2015-2016)
Current Position: Activation & Volunteer Manager, Houston Parks Board
Education Background:B.S. in Natural Resource Ecology and Management from Oklahoma State University; currently pursuing a Master’s in Public Service and Administration from Texas A&M University

Christine Chung, Frazier Park, CA


Name: Christine Chung
Current Location: Frazier Park, CA
SCA Program(s) Served: Native Revegetation Project (2019), SCA Alumni Trail crew (2019), US Fish and Wildlife Service: Conservation Internship Program (now CDIP - 2009, 2010), Alternative Spring Break Grand Canyon (2009), US Forest Service Bear Management Intern (2008)
Current Position: Fire Apprentice, U.S. Forest Service
Education Background: B.S. in Environmental Sciences: Wildlife Conservation (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Igor DaCruz, San Diego, CA


Name: Igor DaCruz
Current Location: San Diego, CA
SCA Program(s) Served: High School Crew, George Washington and Jefferson National Forests (2005)
Current Position: Managing Director, Life Sciences at Runway Growth Capital
Education Background: B.S. in Finance (University of Massachusetts Boston)

Karissa DeCarlo, Colorado Springs, CO


Name: Karissa DeCarlo
Current Location: Colorado Springs, CO
SCA Program(s) Served: High School Conservation Crew: Cumberland Gap National Historical Park (1997), High School Conservation Crew: Ouachita National Forest (1999), Conservation Intern/AmeriCorps (2001): Mount Rushmore National Memorial
Current Position: Partnerships & Philanthropy Specialist at the National Park Service
Education Background: B.S in Environmental and Sustainable Resources (University of Louisiana at Lafayette) & M.S. in Recreation, Parks and Tourism (West Virginia University)

Jonathan Fennell, Olympia, WA


Name: Jonathan Fennell
Current Location: Olympia, WA
SCA Program(s) Served: Historic Preservation Corps, Delaware Water Gap, NJ (2014); Desert Restoration Corps, Ridgecrest, CA (2014-2015); Havasu Wildlife Refuge Chainsaw Leader Team, Mohave Valley, AZ (2015)
Current Position: Hydrogeologist, Water Quality Program Specialist, Washington Department of Ecology
Education Background: B.S. Geology, Mining Engineering, University of Pittsburgh

David Kurapka, Berkeley, CA


Name: David Kurapka
Current Location: Berkeley, CA
SCA Program(s) Served: Acadia National Park national high school crew, Assateague Island National Seashore internship
Current Position: Writer/Editor
Education Background: B.A. in English, with minor in Natural Resources, University of the South

Lou Lunte, Picabo, ID


Name: Lou Lunte
Current Location: Picabo, ID
SCA Program(s) Served: 1977 national high school crew in North Cascades and 1978 Sherpa crew in Olympic National Park
Current Position: After 31 years with The Nature Conservancy, Lou has come full circle to once again be the Silver Creek Preserve Manager for the Idaho Chapter. With his partner and wife, Cindy, as a volunteer, they are sharing the wonders of nature with others every day.
Education Background: B.S. Bacteriology, University of Idaho

Patricio Portillo, Coachella, CA


Name: Patricio Portillo
Current Location: Coachella, CA
SCA Program(s) Served: Massachusetts Conservation Corps (2013), Pittsburgh Community Crew Leader (2014)
Current Position: Senior Advocate at Natural Resources Defense Council
Education Background: B.B.A. in International Business & M.A. in International Economics

Amie Schiller, St. Paul, MN


Name: Amie Schiller
Current Location: St. Paul, MN
SCA Program(s) Served: National Park Service Academy: Grand Teton National Park (2015), Biological Technician: Invasive Species Management: Mt. Rushmore National Monument, Trails Partnership Intern: Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park (2015-2016), GIS Specialist: National Park Service Headquarters- Washington D.C. (2017-2018)
Current Position: Stewardship Coordinator, Minnesota Land Trust
Education Background: B.S. Wildlife Biology, minor in Geospatial Technology (GST), University of Vermont

Tommy Sheridan, Cordova, AK


Name: Tommy Sheridan
Current Location: Cordova, AK
SCA Program(s) Served: Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association Conservation Intern (2002)
Current Position: Independent fisheries consultant and educator
Education Background: B.S. in Environmental Studies (Florida State University), Undergraduate Certificate in Fisheries Technology (University of Alaska Southeast), Graduate Certificate in Fisheries Management (Oregon State University), & M.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife Administration (Oregon State University)

Michiko Squires, Chico, CA


Name: Michiko Squires
Current Location: Chico, CA
SCA Program(s) Served: Interpretation and Outreach Intern, Biscayne National Park (2006), Environmental Education Intern, Great Smoky Mountains National Park (2011)
Current Position: Regional Data Manager and GIS Specialist, US Fish and Wildlife Service
Education Background: B.S. in Biology, B.S. in Computer Science (University of Miami); M.S. in Forest Resources and Conservation with a concentration in Geomatics (University of Florida)

Kyle Yarusso, Washington, DC


Name: Kyle Yarusso
Current Location: Washington, DC
SCA Program(s) Served: Centennial Volunteer Ambassador intern (2015-2016)
Current Position: Volunteer and Youth Programs Coordinator at the National Park Service (Rock Creek Park)
Education Background: B.S. in Applied Ecology and Environmental Science, minor in Communications

Alumni Council Member Stories From Our Blog

What is the National Park Service doing to attract young people? SCA is an answer!

Posted by Ann Pedtke | Tuesday, March 24, 2015

SCA Leaders Jean Bartholomew and Emily Fonti made a guest appearance on CNN this weekend — starring in Morgan Spurlock’s “Inside Man” episode examining the role of young people in National Parks.

SCA Alum Jessica Wonyee Sanchez on Serving as a Citizen Scientist for MLK Day 2015

Posted by Joseph Thurston | Friday, January 23, 2015

This past Monday we celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King’s Birthday by participating in the “California King Tides” citizen science project. This event was hosted by Acterra, a Peninsula-based environmental non-profit in the SF Bay Area. We had a great turnout (close to seventy people!), at the East Palo Alto Bay...

Leah Duran, NPS Park Guide & SCA Alum, on Serving in the Wilderness & the City

Posted by Joseph Thurston | Tuesday, January 20, 2015
SCA Alum Leah Duran is currently a NPS employee at San Fransicso Maritime National Historic Park

Leah Duran is a three-time SCA alum who just finished a three-year stint on SCA’s Alumni Council. Soon after serving with SCA she began working for the National Park Service, first at Lassen Volcanic National Park, then at John Muir National Historic Site, and now at San...

Passing on a passion for the wild

Posted by Staff | Monday, December 15, 2014
Members of the Weaver family, all in service with the SCA: Kathy and Scott, two of their children: Johanna and Travis, and Johanna, right

The Student Conservation Association has been a part of my family since the day I was born. Indeed, I truly was an SCA baby: my mom and dad met working in Yosemite National Park back in the ‘70s, and eventually wound up leading SCA crews every summer in the backcountry....

SCA Alum '11, '12, '13, '14

Posted by Joseph Thurston | Friday, September 12, 2014

CJ Goulding has attended SCA’s NPS Academy as both a member and a mentor. He’s interned for SCA in the Grand Tetons and led crews of high school students in city parks for SCA’s Seattle Community Program

Interior Sec. Jewell Joins SCA & AmeriCorps for a 9/11 Service Project in D.C.

Posted by Joseph Thurston | Friday, September 12, 2014

Alongside SCA President Jaime Matyas, AmeriCorps Director Bill Basl, and George Washington Memorial Parkway Superintendent Alex Romero, Secretary Jewell led 125 SCA and AmeriCorps volunteers in an hours long effort to restore a stretch of Potomac River shoreline located just outside of Washington, DC.

SCA 2005 Yuha Desert & Olympic National Park

Posted by Staff | Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Lillian holds a truly rare perspective of SCA: she’s been both a team member – restoring Southern California landscapes and habitats damaged by unauthorized off-road vehicle use – and a team leader, directing the efforts of an SCA trail crew at Olympic National Park.

Posted by Ann Pedtke | Thursday, July 24, 2014

Last month, after three years of working for the National Park Service, I earned my career tenure with the federal government. This accomplishment would not have been possible without my SCA service, which gave me the “golden ticket” of non-competitive hiring status.

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