Leah Duran


Leah Duran, Interpretation Administrative Assistant,   San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park

  • 2011-2014: SCA Alumni Council Member
  • SCA 2010: Habitat Restoration Intern, Grand Canyon National Park
  • SCA 2009-2010: AmeriCorps Member, SCA Massachusetts Corps
  • SCA 2009: Interpretation Intern, Montezuma Castle & Tuzigoot National Monuments

Hometown: Newington, CT

College: Arizona State University

Current Job: Interpretation Administrative Assistant, San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park

What led you down the path to conservation?
My parents helped foster my love of the outdoors by leading my sister and me on hikes, bike rides, and runs through Connecticut’s woodsy landscapes. A small piece of woods behind our home was my childhood playground, as well as a place I could return to for respite and peace. I decided to attend college in Arizona after witnessing the majesty of the Grand Canyon. In the hot, spellbinding deserts, I had my first camping and backpacking experiences, and I’ve carried a pack and a love of nature with me ever since.
How did SCA impact your life and career?

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. With this status, I landed my first permanent position at Lassen Volcanic National Park. More than jumpstarting my career, my SCA service taught me the meaning of community, and that I can do anything (including chainsaw a tree to create stairs) with a commitment to flexibility, perseverance, and teamwork.   

What’s your most memorable SCA moment?

My fond memories of SCA are too numerous to count! I’ll never forget my hitch at Quabbin Reservoir in Massachusetts. We returned to our campsite from a hard day’s work building retaining walls to find our equipment – clothes, sleeping bags, etc. – stolen. We drove to Target to buy essentials (read: underwear) and returned to work in the morning. The next evening, our tents were gone, too! Our site found us a place to stay inside, and we kept working until we finished the job, remaining resilient and in good spirits despite our misfortunes. 

Tell us about one of your proudest accomplishments.
I recently wrote four signs for a hiking trail on Mount Wanda, part of the John Muir National Historic Site, as well as two more signs to be placed near the park Visitor Center. After more than a year-long process of coordinating the text, design input, and placement, I held the printed signs in my hands and almost cried. 
What has been your favorite part of serving on the SCA Alumni Council?

I feel incredibly fortunate to have served on SCA’s Alumni Council for three years. We meet annually for a weekend, and I am never so refreshed and motivated as after those meetings. My favorite part is working with such a diverse, talented group of people who bring innovative ideas and actions to help SCA connect with its 75,000 alumni. We’re also pretty good at singing karaoke! Two other council members and I, along with SCA’s Oakland office, spearheaded the Bay Area BBQ for Boots fundraiser, held in my backyard last fall. Dale Penny, SCA’s President, spoke at the event, which raised more than $1,000 for local community crews. 

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