What Year One Excelsior Conservation Corps Members Are Up To


The Excelsior Conservation Corps is gearing up to start their third field season! While they begin preparations for a new class of members, slated to arrive in March, they recently reached out to a few Year One members to see what they are up to now:

Kelsey Ruffino

Kelsey Ruffino was a member of the first Excelsior Conservation Corps in 2016, where she participated in culvert assessments, trail work, invasive species removals, and much more! After the ECC, Kelsey joined the SCA’s Hudson Valley Corps, serving as an Environmental Steward with New York State Parks, based at the Albany headquarters. In that position, she contributed to a wide variety of conservation projects, working closely with environmental analysts, biologists, and other stewardship staff on projects ranging from peregrine falcon surveys to technical guidance for environmental issues.

Following the completion of her SCA term, Kelsey remained as a Stewardship Specialist with New York State Parks, where she continues to work in the Division of Environmental Stewardship and Planning at Albany. Some projects currently include helping manage data on ongoing stewardship projects in state parks, collecting information to write reports, guidance documents, or public education materials, and even helping coordinate the ECC’s culvert assessment program!

Kyle Miller

After the 2016 program, Kyle went back home and worked part time at a dog boarding kennel that he had been working at for the past few years. In January of 2017, he started a wildlife field technician position with the University of Tennessee on a wild turkey research study for a master’s student. In July, he came back home and went back to the boarding kennel part time.

In November, Kyle started another part time job at the Columbia-Greene Humane Society/SPCA and currently he is going through the application/hiring process for becoming a NYS park police officer. Miller took the state tests for NYS park police, Environmental Conservation officer, and forest ranger back in October of 2016 and received the canvas letter for the park police position in late October of 2017. If Kyle is selected and hired, the academy is set to begin in October of 2018 as long as there is room in the state budget.

Erika Hoad

Erika has just been hired on through the recent graduate pathways program as a Forestry Technician Timber Marker for the Region 8 Cherokee National Forest. She will be performing tasks such as timber sale layout and marking, treating Eastern Hemlocks for Hemlock Woody Adelgid and Non-Native Invasive Species with herbicide, prescribed fire line preparation and prescribed fire implementation, wildfire activities and details, and improving wildlife habitat.

Although Erika graduated with a degree in Business Administration in December of 2015, she knew she wanted to work outdoors. Her work in conservation started with stumbling upon the Excelsior Conservation Corps where she served as a member in 2016 for 10 months. In 2017, Erika led a 7 month crew of 2 for the SCA that partnered with the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee. That’s when Hoad discovered that she wanted to work for the US Forest Service.

She started making connections and researching/applying to jobs all over the country with the Forest Service and Park Service through usajobs.gov and got several offers to choose from. To top off her time before she started her “grown up” job, Erika did a 1 month SCA leader crew in Zion National Park in December 2017 and loved every minute of it. Erika says “I look forward to starting this new chapter of my life that allows me to pursue my dream of working outdoors and still getting to travel all over the country.”