Daniel Heins


Featured Earthsaver for the #Next100

As an SCA Volunteer in California, New York, and now Chicago, Daniel Heins is gaining the experience he’ll need to help lead America’s parks through the #Next100 years.

What’s your SCA story?

When I was a junior in high school, I was looking for a way to visit new parks and volunteer to give back to our park system. I discovered SCA and applied to join a national crew. I was placed at Inyo National Forest in California, and spent a month working on a backcountry trail crew in one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I learned what an amazing organization SCA is, and found that I would be able to continue my service with SCA at regular events back home in New York City with the ConSERVE NYC initiative, volunteering at urban parks across the five boroughs. I’m at school in Chicago now studying geoscience, but have continued to be involved in SCA events here in the Chicago area. I am always looking forward to the next SCA event, whether here in Chicago or back home in New York.  

Why do you serve the planet?

I love the outdoors and believe that we all need to do our part to make sure that our parks and environmental resources remain intact for others to enjoy.

What’s your favorite green space?

I grew up within walking distance of Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx. It may not be the most celebrated New York City park, but it is easily my favorite. It is massive, three times the size of Central Park, and I have spent so many hours wandering through its woods, climbing around its rocks, swimming at Orchard Beach, and kayaking around its shores. You can go deep into the park and completely forget that you are in the biggest city in the country. While not as immediately breathtaking as, say, the North Cascades or the High Sierras, Pelham Bay Park is a place I’ve grown to love and it will always have a special place in my memories.

Tell us about one of your favorite service experiences.

When I was working on an SCA crew in Inyo National Forest in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, my crew helped maintain parts of the Pacific Crest and John Muir Trails by Thousand Island Lake. The mountains were beautiful, and it was so great working hard and seeing backpackers enjoying the newly improved trails — seeing firsthand how thankful and happy they were. It was an incredible introduction to SCA, being based at a beautiful backcountry site, hiking out to work a different section of trail each day.

What’s your next earthsaving goal?

I’m studying geoscience at the University of Chicago, with a particularly strong interest in hydrology. I’m hoping to be able to use my studies to work on issues relating to water quality and conservation efforts. I fully believe that proper care for and conservation of our water resources is one of the most important national and global issues, both for protecting the environment and for our own well-being. This summer I am planning to work as a federal student trainee in this area. I hope to do my part to study and spread awareness of this critical issue.