Since 2009, SYRCL has partnered with the Sierra Nevada Alliance to form the Sierra Nevada AmeriCorps Partnership (SNAP), a program in which AmeriCorps members assess and restore impaired watershed habitats and increase community stewardship by conducting watershed restoration and ecological monitoring, watershed education, and volunteer recruitment and support. Each year these AmeriCorps members serve and protect the Sierra from October through September in different conservation organizations throughout the Sierra Nevada.
Please Join Us in Welcoming our New 2019/20 AmeriCorps Team Members!
Mary McDonnell, Restoration Coordinator (2019/20)
Mary grew up near Sacramento, CA, spending summer vacations fostering a love for California’s many diverse landscapes. In college, she studied land management techniques, completing a major in Conservation and Resource Studies and a minor in Forestry from UC Berkeley.
Mary worked as a research assistant in range ecology and forest ecology, and most recently, as a land steward an organization that conserves open spaces. Mary is eager to learn more about community-based management practices, and feels she found the right place at SYRCL, an organization that is community founded and focused.
In her free time, you can catch Mary dancing, reading, baking, and doing puzzles.
Jaclyn Sherman, River Monitoring Coordinator (2019/20)
Jaclyn was born in Northern California and spent her early childhood exploring the redwood coast region. Her family later moved to Nashville, Tennessee where she spent her free time hiking in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains. In 2019, she graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a double major in Environmental Studies and Economics.
Her passion for sustainability and food systems compelled her to take on jobs with the Santa Cruz Farmer’s Market and other local biodynamic farms. While in college, she studied abroad in New Zealand, was a member of the ocean paddling team, and spent her weekends backpacking, biking, and hiking on the west coast.
She has recently returned from traveling in Nepal and Thailand and is excited to reacquaint herself with the Eastern Sierra.
Shannon Hedge, Outreach & Education Coordinator (2019/20)
Shannon grew up in the suburbs around Houston, Texas where she spent most days outside exploring anywhere where there was water. She obtained a bachelors degree in Evolution and Ecology at The Ohio State University and helped work in diversity programming as an ambassador of the multicultural center.
She found her true love of education and outreach while in graduate school at Humboldt State University as a teaching associate and volunteer coordinator for the citizen science program FrogWatch. She is excited to combine her passions of environmental conservation and interacting directly with the community at SYRCL.
Outside of work, she can often be found cooking, crafting, or looking for frogs or other herps outside.
Andrea Tineo, Stewardship Coordinator (2018/19)
Spending her youth swimming, sailing, and paddling along the coast of Maine and the Chesapeake Bay, Andrea has always felt passionate about protecting our waters. Born and raised in a Venezuelan- American household outside of Washington D.C., Andrea grew up in a politically and culturally rich environment that has influenced her interests, and academic pursuits.
Andrea studied Biology and Anthropology at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, and in her junior year, she studied abroad at James Cook University in Australia. Here, she was able to pet a koala and fulfill one of her lifelong dreams of diving in the Great Barrier Reef. With a strong desire to travel the world, Andrea turns to science to lead her to her next adventure.
Although she will miss the East Coast and her small school on the water, Andrea is excited to explore Northern California and continue learning about environmental restoration, and community empowerment.
Jesse Armfield, River Monitoring Coordinator (2018/19)
Jesse was born and raised in Western Massachusetts and is a pretty typical New Englander. Jesse received his B.S. in geology from UMass Amherst in 2016. From there he immediately attended graduate school at the University of Vermont and earned his M.S. in geology in 2018.
Jesse specializes in low-temperature geochemistry and is currently in the final stages of publishing a peer-reviewed journal article on the geochemical response of a headwater region to changes in precipitation chemistry caused by the Clean Air Act.
Jesse enjoys cold weather and everything that comes with it, most importantly downhill skiing. His other hobbies include cooking, gardening, kayaking, fishing, phish, concerts, and general hanging out.
Asia Jones, Restoration Coordinator (2018/19)
Asia spends her days mainly out in the field collecting samples, planting native flora, and enjoying the natural splendor of the Sierra Nevada. Since childhood, Asia has always wanted to have an impact on restoring the beautiful state she calls home. She loves learning about the native plants and animals around her and how they interact with their environment to create the amazing world around us. Because of this passion, Asia obtained her B.S. from UC Davis in Evolution, Ecology and Biodiversity. Don’t be surprised if you see her looking under rocks or logs; she’s probably just looking for reptiles or amphibians to keep her identification skills sharp! When not in the field or office, Asia can be found practicing her painting or walking around trying to level up in Pokemon Go.
Karli Foreman, Restoration Coordinator (2017/18)
Karli grew up in the mountains of Durango, Colorado, skiing, running and mountain biking. Constantly being immersed in the outdoors while growing up, led her to pursue a degree in Natural Resources Management with minors in Ecological Restoration and Zoology at Colorado State University. There she worked for the Restoration Ecology Lab doing various restoration projects in the Eastern plains and mountains in the Front Range. Throughout her college years, Karli continued to explore the ways in which we impact our natural environment from field studies at the base of the Rocky Mountains, to maintaining trails in the fjords of Iceland, and to leading interpretive hikes in the bays of Alaska. Whenever Karli is running in the high alpine she is on the constant lookout for her favorite animal the Ochotono princeps (a.k.a. her imaginary rap name). She is very excited to join SYRCL as Restoration Coordinator, and to bring her passion and enthusiasm to the discovery of an entirely new ecosystem and watershed.
Katie Nickels, River Monitoring Coordinator (2017/18)
After attending college in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Katie Nickels became enthralled with the intricacies of nature and decided to pursue a career serving the natural world. Since attaining a degree in environmental science she has spent the last year serving in Americorps. This has permitted her to meet many wonderful people and enhance her professional scientific capabilities. Katie has a particular interest in aquatic communities and looks forward to learning and working with SYRCL as our River Monitoring Coordinator. Also, Katie loves mountain biking and bugs!
Siya Phillips, Stewardship Coordinator (2017/18)
Siya grew up exploring the environmental beauty of New England. With a strong interest in people and social justice, she began took to traveling both nationally and internationally to learn about culture and the environment. She attended both the College of Wooster in Ohio and Hobart and William Smith in upstate New York and graduated with a degree in Environmental Studies. Her academic pursuits cross many disciplines including; under represented groups, sustainability, sociology, Latin America and the Caribbean, the natural sciences, and Environmental science. Siya believes strongly in the importance of the inseparable bound and interdependence shared amongst people, culture and the environment they live in. She is very happy to be living and working in Sierra Nevada County; she is most excited to learn about and serve the surrounding communities and rivers we depend on. Come say Hi!
Whitney Logue, Stewardship/Outreach Coordinator (2016/17)
As a resident of Nevada City, Whitney first heard about SYRCL through attending the Wild and Scenic Film Festival! Whitney recently completed her degree in Public Policy, and with her clear passion for advocacy and outreach, she is an excellent and welcome addition to our team at SYRCL.
Courtney Hudson, Restoration Coordinator (2016/17)
We are thrilled to announce that Courtney Hudson is continuing on with SYRCL. Courtney has transitioned from Stewardship Coordinator and is now working with River Science as the Restoration Coordinator. Courtney’s working knowledge of SYRCL as an organization and familiarity with the watershed will be invaluable as she implements restoration projects in mountain meadows and along the Yuba River.
Anna Schwyter, River Monitoring Coordinator (2016/17)
Anna hails from Pennsylvania and finished up her degree in Environmental Resource Management this last May. Undeniably driven, Anna was awarded the Women in Science and Engineering Research (WISER) Grant in 2013. We are excited to put her knowledge of watershed management to good use here at SYRCL!
Cordi Craig, Restoration Coordinator (2015/16)
I am incredibly grateful for my experiences in the AmeriCorps program. Serving as the Restoration Coordinator at SYRCL has given me the opportunity to learn and grow as a scientist and professional. SYRCL has immersed me into the local community and the Sierras as a whole and I learn something new every day. My work as the Restoration Coordinator has encouraged and motivated me to apply to graduate school in the next couple of years to study soil science. I look forward to taking all of the connections and experiences in the Yuba watershed with me wherever I go!
Courtney Hudson, Stewardship/Outreach Coordinator (2015/16)
My time at SYRCL continues to impress and shock me; I am blown away by the number of people who commit so much time, energy, and money into preserving the Yuba River. As a Stewardship Coordinator, I’ve had volunteers help me conduct outreach on rainy, Saturday mornings, as well as on blistering July days—and always with a smile on their face! Environmental work can quickly turn into a burn-out job: there is so much work to be done with so much opposition to face. Yet my time at SYRCL has shown me that when we stand together we can truly make a positive impact in this world—even if the weather won’t cooperate!
Mo Loden, River Monitoring Coordinator (2015/16)
I genuinely feel on a day to day basis I’m doing and learning “GREAT” things. The amount of skills and experiences I’ve obtained in just eight months is overwhelming. I believe I will be setup with an immense amount of capabilities that will translate into valuable skills for rewarding and meaningful long-term employment within a watershed stewardship position.
Karl Ronning, River Monitoring Coordinator (2014/15)
Organizations like SYRCL give the community a chance to be involved in science and in turn create environmental stewards to protect the places they love. I had the honor to serve as an AmeriCorps member at SYRCL and see this firsthand. Besides growing my experience in water quality, hydrology, and data analysis, SYRCL has shown me the importance in capturing the local community with environmental issues. Grassroots movements may be one of the most important ways in creating and maintaining a healthy planet for future generations to come.
Suzanne Calkins, Stewardship/Outreach Coordinator (2014/15)
Svetlana Vasilchenko, Restoration Coordinator (2014/15)
My experience as an AmeriCorps service member at SYRCL was educational, adventurous and incredibly invaluable. Throughout my term I received an insurmountable amount of support and encouragement to learn, excel and succeed. I had a lot of practical hands-on experience both in the field and out. I spent a lot of time in the field where I learned many technical skills and learned a vast amount about hydrology, ecology and restoration. I had the privilege to work alongside many amazing community volunteers, without whom we would never be able to accomplish all that we did. I’m proud to have served in an organization that the community loves and respects so much. Living in Nevada City and serving as the Restoration Coordinator at SYRCL has truly been an amazing life experience. I’m forever grateful! For the Yuba!
Adele Rife, Restoration Coordinator (2013/14)
My AmeriCorps service years at SYRCL have exceeded my expectations. I’ve gotten to use the skills I acquired in my undergraduate courses and I’ve learned more about what I want to pursue in graduate school and my career. Everything I’ve requested for my service terms, including field work, GIS training, public speaking skills and grant writing experience, I’ve received. But the best part about it all is the beautiful watershed I work to protect and restore, with the wonderful staff and community that I get to work with here at SYRCL!
Jenn Tamo, Stewardship/Outreach Coordinator (2013/14)
I am so grateful to the Sierra Nevada AmeriCorps Partnership (SNAP), Sierra Nevada Conservancy, and to SYRCL for providing me the opportunity to be challenged, learn and grow. As the Stewardship Coordinator at SYRCL I gained so many valuable skills and was able to work alongside so many talented, kind community members and staff. I feel so fortunate to have landed in the sweet community of Nevada City and Grass Valley and love that I get to continue to call this place home as a member of the SYRCL staff.
Marianne Pott, River Monitoring Coordinator (2013/14)
It’s been a physical challenge – hiking and wading 25 – 55 pounds of tools, a 20 pound length of galvanized steel pipe, a long level, a staff plate, shovel, stadia rod, and expensive surveying equipment up and down 2 steep creek canyons, one without a trail but with lots of poison oak. It’s been a mental challenge, testing patience when the attachment bedrock crumbles piece by piece with drilling into it, power tool batteries die effectively ending the day, learning that the hardware and planned setup is unsuitable for uneven rock, or waiting for rock-grade epoxy to dry. I overcame these challenges because of my stubbornness and an “it’s gotta get done!” attitude.
Adele Rife, Restoration Coordinator (2012/13)
When I reflect on SYRCL’s restoration program, I notice growth. I notice that our scientific capacity has grown, our outreach has grown, and the number of on the ground projects has grown. This progress is a pattern that I see throughout all of SYRCL’s programs. I feel lucky to have been a part of it throughout the past two years and will truly miss working for SYRCL and living in this river-centric community.
Andrew Collins-Anderson (2012/13)
Eric Rubenstahl, River Monitoring Coordinator (2012)
As the River Monitoring Coordinator for 2012, my experience with SYRCL was eye-opening, life-changing and overall just really inspirational. I remember coming to Nevada City and SYRCL for the first time being excited, nervous and ready to dive head first into river science. I had fresh work relationships to navigate and new social circles to steer on a daily basis. I always had meaningful work to fill my days, events to attend, and all the while, grew a deep love for the Yuba River. I left my AmeriCorps stint and River Monitoring position professionally charged, emotionally evolved and forever connected to the Yuba river and the surrounding community.
Jessica Roberts, Watershed Coordinator (2012)
Kaitlyn Hacker, River Monitoring Coordinator (2010/11)
This program would not exist to the extent that it does without our wonderful citizen volunteers, many of whom have been monitoring since the program’s inception. Without this program, the community would lack “watch-dogs” for the Yuba so if a problem did arise it might go unnoticed. I am constantly inspired by the dedication and commitment of all the river monitors who take pride in the water quality data that they collect and work tirelessly to maintain the health of the Yuba. Many of the eighty SYRCL river monitors also assist with side projects including bacteria sampling, flow monitoring, deploying temperature loggers, meter calibration and so on, and without their help, I would not have been able to accomplish as much as I have been able to this year. Overall working as the River Monitoring Coordinator at SYRCL has been a great experience largely because of the wonderful volunteers who make my job fun!
Sarah Phillips, Watershed Coordinator (2010/11)
One of my favorite projects this year was SYRCL’s Aspen Regeneration Project, at Loney Meadow and Rucker Lake for so many reasons. To start, it was so inclusive in that it was in collaboration with Tahoe National Forest, on their lands, focused on or in proximity to high elevation meadows. This service project also encouraged volunteers from the community to join in an overnight camping trip, near a meadow and aspen trees. The project addressed the encroachment of conifer species into aspen habitat, having a negative impact on the aspens, such as shading them out. Both days of work began with an educational explanation of the work we were doing and why it was important for the ecosystem. The regeneration work meant cutting down conifers that were living within aspen patches, then using the brush to build deer-deterrent corrals around the aspen clumps. No more than ten volunteers came on either day, but our impact was immense! We restored a total of 3.5 acres of gorgeous public lands, for the animals that depend on the aspens, in addition for future hikers who appreciate aspen trees, as most people do.
Brooke Berger, River Monitoring Coordinator (2009/10)
One of my favorite things about living in Nevada City is its proximity and connection to the Yuba. It is luxurious to be able to leave the office and spend such little time traveling to this river’s blue-green waters. One hour I am typing, the next I am floating in the current. I am inspired by all the time that volunteers in this community put into living their convictions. They embody the spirit of stewardship and I am privileged to be a vessel through which their good work can be accomplished.
Jen Hemmert, Watershed Assessment, and Monitoring Specialist Position / River Science Coordinator (2008/09)
Dan Murnane, Watershed Education Specialist (2008)
Jas O’Growney, Watershed Information Technology Specialist (2008)
Joel Passovoy, Watershed Science Coordinator (2007)
Since 1993 the Sierra Nevada Alliance has been protecting and restoring Sierra lands, water, wildlife, and communities. Our mission is to protect and restore the natural resources of the Sierra Nevada for future generations while promoting sustainable communities. We are truly an alliance. There are over eighty-five conservation-focused Member Groups that are based or work in the 400-mile mountain range that is the Sierra Nevada region.
AmeriCorps engages more than 75,000 Americans in intensive service each year at nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community groups across the country. Since the program’s founding in 1994, almost 1 million AmeriCorps members have contributed more than 1.2 billion hours in service across America while tackling pressing problems and mobilizing millions of volunteers for the organizations they serve.