Highlights from Hitch 1

SCA Excelsior Corps project leaders gathered at their home base in SUNY Morrisville

SCA Excelsior Corps Members Share Best Moments & Biggest Surprises from Their First Projects in the Field

SCA Excelsior Conservation Corps members have hit the field for their first hitches at park sites across New York State. Working in five teams of ten members each, the Corps tackles critical conservation projects from New York City to the Adirondacks. SCA Excelsior Project Leaders share some of the best moments — and biggest surprises — during their first days in the field:

SCA Excelsior Project Leader Craig MartinCraig Martin
SCA Project Leader

What was your crew up to on this first hitch?

We were working at NYSDEC’s Camp Colby near Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks, improving camp facilities in preparation for the summer season.

Best moment?

I got to introduce three members of my group to the Adirondacks for the very first time! They had never visited the region and they loved it. I told them about how it was my experience with SCA’s Adirondack Corps that first got me interested in this kind of work.

Biggest surprise?

On our off time we decided to go salsa dancing! We really got to see a different side of our members on the dance floor!

SCA Excelsior Project Leader Emily Bowles

Emily Bowles
SCA Project Leader

What was your crew up to on this first hitch?

We were working at Connetquot River State Park Preserve on Long Island, removing trees that posed a danger along park trails and clearing fallen logs to be chipped and recycled.

Best moment?

Our members got to practice their new chainsaw certification skills for the very first time - in the snow! Even our more cautious members took on the challenge. Most importantly, everyone stayed safe!

Biggest surprise?

We thought we would be camping, but as it turned out we got to stay in a historic mansion near the park. Guests like William Vanderbilt and Ulysses S. Grant used to spend time at Connequot when it was part of the South Side Sportsmen’s Club. We had hot water, real showers – not to mention carpets and chandeliers! We were living in luxury!

SCA Excelsior Project Leader Dave Ciernia

Dave Ciernia
SCA Project Leader

What was your crew up to on this first hitch?

We cleared 38 acres of invasive vines from Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve on Staten Island in New York City.

Biggest surprise?

While we were clearing invasives, we came across an area where a bunch of old cars had been dumped. Along with the vines, we were pulling out these huge pieces of vehicles – some of them from really sweet cars!

Best moment?

The members got really into it and started calling themselves the “Salvage Dawgs” and plotting how they could reassemble the cars and get them running again.

SCA Excelsior Project Leader Leah CantorLeah Cantor
SCA Project Leader & Program Coordinator

What was your crew up to on this first hitch?

The Outreach and Education crew was working on creating a Pollinator Video and other curriculum materials for New York State Parks, dividing their time between the SUNY Morrisville campus and nearby Stoney Pond State Forest.

Best moment?

The team was making hand puppets to incorporate into the pollinator curriculum and everyone started acting out the parts and getting SO into it – like, “Yeah! BEES!!!’”

Biggest surprise?

Camping in 8-degree weather! We didn’t expect THAT in March!

SCA Excelsior Project Leader Andy DamonAndy Damon
SCA Project Leader

What was your crew up to on this first hitch?

We spent the week clearing culverts and doing stream restoration at Mt. Loretto Unique Area on Staten Island in NYC.

Best moment?

One of my members was hesitant about the work at first, but eventually she got so into it that she just wanted to keep going and keep restoring the banks all the way down the river. She asked me, “Can we do stream restoration projects EVERY day?”

Biggest surprise?

Our biggest surprise was definitely when a film crew showed up to shoot a dance video at the cabin where we were staying! Just as we were getting ready to leave for work, the crew showed up to use the cabin as a set. SCA didn’t get any cameos, but we did meet a couple of the dancers in the cast when we came back later to pick up our gear.

 

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