SCA Greater Yellowstone Recovery Corps, 1991
Asheesh Misra, Programme Manager: Bridging the Equity Gap Project, International Baccalaureate
My parents are immigrants from India and I had never backpacked or camped before. But my sister (who was in college at the time in Indiana) cut out a newspaper ad for SCA one day and mailed it to me. No note or anything, just that ad. I had never been out west in my life, but I was already very active in environmental advocacy and had started an environmental club in my school. So I decided to apply to go to Yellowstone.
As it happened I submitted my application late, so the first thing I heard back was that I had been turned down. But then SCA extended the deadline and sent me a second letter telling me that I had been accepted after all. When I opened that up I started screaming so loudly that my mom thought I had hurt myself and came running from the next room.
One of the most meaningful accomplishments was building one of our longest footbridges. I was a bookworm, and I wasn’t the most athletic kid in the world. But I remember feeling really proud of myself when we finished that bridge. We came up with a work chant and a march as we were moving those heavy stones, and I just felt so much pride in the physical work we were doing, and in the camaraderie we had developed as a group. We all became such close friends on that project.
I also have great memories from our seven-day backpacking trip at the end of the summer. On the very first day of the trip, we had walked at least 12 miles uphill in extremely difficult terrain. We finally got to this summit with a lake on top of a mountain, and we all just threw off our clothes and jumped in to go swimming. We all felt so liberated and joyful.
How did SCA impact your life and career?
Even though I didn’t choose an environmental career, I think my experience with SCA had an enormous impact. It gave me a really strong sense of resiliency in my personal and professional life — it made me feel like I could take on anything. SCA was definitely the most empowering experience of my teenage years.
For a kid who didn’t own a tent and had never been camping, SCA also got me started on a lifelong love of backpacking and the outdoors. My wife and I have two kids now, ages 2 and 4, and we are totally committed to having our kids do SCA one day! We have a Victory Garden and the kids are already very involved in that. We stay active as well in advocating for environmental issues. We love what SCA does and are committed to supporting the organization for a lifetime!
I’ve spent 18 years in education administration. The project I manage now, Bridging the Equity Gap, aims to serve schools with a high percentage of low-income students, and connect these kids with the core values to make a difference in their communities. Right now we support five Title 1 high schools, and we are building leadership in those schools to help increase participation in the rigorous International Baccalaureate Programme. We’re empowering underserved students to set higher goals for their educations.
Read Jay Satz’s brief history of the Greater Yellowstone Recovery Corps here.