Kamillia has loved exploring the wilderness and public lands since her first backpacking trip at the age of 4. At the age of 14 she worked on a county youth trail crew in her hometown of Boulder, Colorado. After attending college in New York City, she was thrilled to continue exploring the outdoors as a Crew Leader for Northwest Youth Corps. After taking some solo time to thru-hike the Appalachian trail, she participated in an AmeriCorps program with the Student Conservation Association teaching environmental education, followed by a season building and maintaining trails in state parks in New Hampshire. In search of year-round crew leading opportunities, she moved to Tucson, AZ in 2002 to crew lead for the Youth Corps of Southern Arizona (YCOSA) and immediately fell in love with the Sonoran Desert. While at YCOSA she worked as a Crew Leader, Field Coordinator, and Program Director. Her love of travel led her to explore north Africa, and work for a study abroad program in Portland, Oregon. After YCOSA and Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC) merged she returned to the Sonoran Desert branch of SCC as Program Director, and then Executive Director. The life changing impact that international travel had on her as a teenager led her to co-found a service learning based study abroad and adult volunteer program in Antigua, Guatemala. She then served as Director of Operations at Archaeology Southwest in Tucson. She returned to the conservation corps world as Corps Director of AZCC in August of 2021. In her free time she enjoys camping, hiking, reading in her hammock, and watching wildlife from her back deck.
Hayden (he/him), originally from Rhode Island, is a transplant to the Southwest who fell in love with the diverse natural ecosystems across Arizona. Growing up camping, rock climbing and taking part in community volunteerism shaped his early connection to the natural world. While working on his BS in Industrial Design, he coordinated trail maintenance projects, shoreline cleanups, and took part in Habitat for Humanity builds. After graduating, Hayden spent time as a material designer and artisan furniture maker, while teaching as an adjunct professor at Philadelphia University. In 2013 on a road trip around the country he fell in love with the Arizona wilderness and deciding to stay, took on the role of Program Manager for a nonprofit based in the Tonto National Forest. In 2019 after several years of consulting with environmental organizations and co-founding his own nonprofit he moved to Bihar India in order to further his studies of ecology. There he obtained a MS in Ecology and Environmental studies. His work utilized Citizen Science to further their understanding of human-nature connections and the forces which shape urban biodiversity. Hayden joined the Arizona Conservation Corps as the Individual Placement Program Director in 2021. When not putting his passions to work for AZCC Hayden loves to be outdoors with his partner and two daughters and is currently developing plans for their permaculture farm!
Celia has been working with AZCC since 2003, when it was in its infancy as the Youth Corps of Southern Arizona. Celia is responsible for the overall administrative management of AZCC and feels very honored to contribute to the mission of AZCC. In this role she oversees administrative tasks for the daily operations of AZCC and the administrative staff of Conservation Legacy. Celia was born in Chicago to Mexican parents and was fortunate to have lived in both countries at various stages of her life until she settled in Tucson over 25 years ago. When not at work, Celia enjoys spending time with her husband and two children.
Lee joined AZCC after spending 20+ years with the Montana Conservation Corps as a Regional Supervisor, Program Director, and Director of Partnerships. He grew up in North Carolina but headed west to attend college in Colorado. He started his outdoor career leading wilderness programs with adjudicated youth in New Mexico. He spent 7 years with the Colorado Outward Bound School interspersed with times as a counselor at a community college, a high school teacher, and perpetual graduate student. He returned home and worked with the North Carolina Outward Bound School for 3 years before coming back out west and discovering the world of national service and conservation corps. Lee is married and he and his wife, Teresa have a teen age daughter, Sadie.
Lee joined the AZCC and CCNM team in 2018 as Associate Director focusing on Special Programs. He served as Corps Director through the first two years of the pandemic and now serves as Director of Partnership Development for both Arizona Conservation Corps and Conservation Corps New Mexico.
Nieves Vazquez (they/she) has been Recruitment Coordinator for Arizona Conservation Corps since 2022. She previously served under AZCC as an Individual Placement at Grand Canyon National Park as an Indigenous Interpretation & Visitor Services intern starting in 2021.
They have a B.A. in Psychology, a B.A. in Ethnic Studies, and a certificate in Conflict Resolution & Peace Studies with a focus on Societal Conflicts from the Liberal Arts College and Moody School of Communications at the University of Texas at Austin.
Nieves has worked with the National Park Service and the NPS-RTCA (Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Programs) to develop Outreach & Recruitment strategy plans that centers difficult dialogues to ethically engage local Tribal Nations and Indigenous youth broadly. As part of her conservation work, Nieves previously served as an Individual Placement intern with Texas Conservation Corps as an Indigenous Outreach Coordinator and has worked on urban farms to teach the public on land access, sustainable foodways, and community action in the broader outdoors.
Nieves is from Houston, Texas and is a direct descendant of the Huachichil Chichimecatl and Coahuiltecan peoples of so-called Mexico and Texas.
Edythe (Edie) Guice (she/her/hers) joined Conservation Legacy as the Individual Placement Member Support Coordinator for Arizona Conservation Corps in August of 2022. She grew up in Prescott Arizona, with family in Tucson, and lived in Flagstaff while completing her undergraduate degree at NAU. Growing up in an outdoor enthusiast family, with professional conservationists in her extended family, she was instilled with a deep respect and appreciation for natural lands and wildlife and was taught from a very young age Leave No Trace principles and the belief we are meant to be stewards of the natural world. After earning a BA in Liberal Studies, with a Psychology emphasis and Biology focus, she went on to work in the nonprofit sector for organizations with a primary focus in wildlife conservation. Her work has taken her around the world from Arizona, to Maui, to South Africa, and Borneo Indonesia. She went on to earn a MS in Global Wildlife Health and Conservation from the University of Bristol, England and conducted her thesis research working closely with regional government ecologist in the biodiversity hotspot of the Great Southern region of Western Australia. After returning to Arizona, she obtained a Nonprofit Management Certificate from ASU’s Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation. She is thrilled to be back in Arizona and participating in conservation efforts for her beloved home state. Nature is where she charges her batteries and feeds her soul. In her free time she enjoys hiking, camping, backpacking, climbing, kayaking, and a good hammock hang out in the woods.
Cathy joined AZCC as an Enrollment Specialist in August 2022. Born and raised on the central coast of California, she spent summers with her family camping in the High Sierra enjoying hiking, fishing, and laughing around campfires. She has carried on these traditions to her now grown sons who both share a love for all things outdoors. After spending almost 20 years in Upstate South Carolina she has migrated back West to be closer to family and is very happy with her move to Tucson. In her spare time she enjoys exploring the beautiful desert, traveling, reading, and naps with her dog Maggie.
Preston was raised in Tempe, Arizona, where he developed a love for the outdoors through his father, the Boy Scouts, and conservation projects. Preston graduated from Arizona State University with a B.S. in Geography, and became a part of Arizona Conservation Corps & Conservation Corps New Mexico in 2017. Preston’s desire for adventure has led him to explore much of Arizona’s mountainous and backcountry areas over the years, seeking waterfalls, archaeological sites, old trails, and mountain peaks. Organizing outdoor-related volunteer efforts and writing for the hiking community has given him a sense of purpose and direction. Outside of work, Preston can often be found hiking, backpacking, kayaking, photographing nature, or searching for the next out-of-the-way place to explore. He and his wife Shauna enjoy adventuring together and spending time with their bear-dog, Lola.
Originally from rural Vermont, Jessica Wheeler joined the Arizona Conservation Corps in 2018 as an Administrative Assistant. She brings years of experience in both customer service and administration. An early love for everything outdoors prompted her move to the beautiful Southwest in 2001. She is happy to call Flagstaff home. Jessica is passionate about her family and friends, and is often found spending time with her son, traveling, hiking, skiing, backpacking, playing volleyball, and gardening. Jessica is happy to be a part of the AZCC family and looks forward in supporting their continued success.
Laurel (she/her) was born and raised in Arizona—mostly around Phoenix. The community and nature surrounding Arizona have always been highly important to Laurel. When she first discovered the existence of conservation corps and the potential skills to be gained, she knew this is where she needed to be.
In 2018, Laurel graduated from Northern Arizona University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a minor in Biology. In September 2020, she joined Arizona Conservation Corps as a Corps Member on a 900-hour trail crew. After her first term, she became a Crew Lead for the Cocoweeds (botany survey) crew. In her third season, she was the Crew Lead of a roving crew that collaborated with HistoriCorps and later, rerouted a 3-mile section of the Arizona Trail. Today, Laurel is a Program Director for the Flagstaff Arizona Conservation Corps office and is excited to continue supporting the conservation corps community.
Since leaving Maryland with a college degree and a lust for adventure in 2016, Alycia (she/her) has found herself in many places wearing many hats. Prior to taking on the Program Coordinator role with AZCC in February 2023, Alycia worked three consecutive summer seasons as a wildlife biologist throughout the national forests and parks of California and Oregon, earned her red card and worked on prescribed fires in the forests of northern Arizona, built a stone cabin as a mason in Kansas, trained sled dogs in Alaska, and led ecotours on the shores of the Atlantic. Alycia found her most enriching and rewarding experiences during her time as a conservation corps member and leader, with ACE in 2019-2021 and with AZCC in Tucson in 2022. She is excited to provide a similar positive experience for burgeoning environmentalists through her role with Conservation Legacy!
Ari Abrams (he/they/él) joined Conservation Legacy as Arizona Conservation Corps Recruitment Coordinator in 2023. He moved between the east and west coasts while growing up, but considers Arizona his home. After graduating from Arizona State University with a BS in Psychology, he took a different path and began volunteering at a wolf sanctuary in southern Colorado. Learning about wolf ecology ignited a passion for education and conservation, and later Ari joined the Arizona Conservation Corps to continue impactful work. In his free time he enjoys Argentine Tango, rock climbing, bikepacking, and mending clothes.
James first came to AZCC Tucson in the spring of 2009 as a Corpsmember on a backcountry saw crew, shortly thereafter serving on the Crew Leader Development Program and going on to lead a variety of AZCC crews throughout the Southwest, where he developed a strong passion and desire for serving alongside today's youth completing conservation projects. James' love of the outdoors was instilled at a very young age while adventuring through the mountains of Appalachia and the swamplands of the South. Upon returning to Tucson, his interest in the Sonoran Desert and the surrounding mountains grew exponentially, and often times you will find him searching out rare sources of water in the desert, crawling into/out of hidden caves, and enjoying the history of the Southwest while soaking up the Arizona sunshine.
Born in Croatia, Emanuel grew up Tucson since moving to the area in middle school. He spent his formative years camping with close friends building forts and watching the patterns of life change on the mountain throughout the seasons on Mt Lemmon. Being newly introduced to the outdoors during college, he looked for ways to immerse himself further and signed up for an introduction to permaculture class that opened the doors for him to dive in. After graduating from the University of Arizona with a Bachelors in Illustration and Design, he joined Arizona Conservation Corps and got to learn the Tucson surroundings on a personal level through back country hitches, invasive plant species management, and education mentorships. His background in painting and drawing taught him the foundational skills of observation and exploration that he nurtured alongside his outdoor adventures. Having the privilege of wandering the washes and creek beds of Saguaro National Park to find a nice tree to sit under and paint and listen to the sounds of the desert is all that was necessary to cement his love and commitment to the natural wonders of the Sonoran Desert and its Sky Islands. He looks forward to continuing to invest in Arizona’s ecological community through serving the mission of Arizona Conservation Corps.
Born in Washington DC and raised in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Egypt, Marci (she/her/they) first served with Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC) out of Salida, CO in 2011. After finishing her BFA in printmaking she went back to as a crew member with Arizona Conservation Corps (AZCC) in 2012 then a youth crew leader for SCC in Durango in 2014. She returned to the Sonoran Desert to crew lead for AZCC in 2014 for three seasons. She went back to school for a BS in Natural Resource Management where she spent four years learning about ecosystem restoration while becoming involved in environmental justice and BIPOC representation in the outdoors. She graduated and landed a position with the Tucson Audubon as a Restoration Project Manager. In this time, she missed the organization that lead her to learn more about ecology—Conservation Legacy. She now is a program coordinator for AZCC based, out of the Tucson office, and enjoys talking to plants, falling off her mountain bike avoiding cactus death, climbing things that hurt her fingers, doing all the art things, and spending time with her two dingus dogs Cholla and Ocotillo.
My name is Ivan Castillo, I am the Field Supervisor for Arizona Conservation Corps based out of the Tuscon office and I have been apart of the corps from August 2021. In that time I had a growing experience as a crew leader with several crews working on trail maintenance, saw projects, and some fencing removal/building. Prior to joining AZCC I was working for the Fuels and Restoration Crew in the Gila River Indian Community from October 2018 to August 2021 where I had gained a lot of knowledge and experience in chainsaw work as well as FAL3 and S212, I also worked with the BIA PIMA Agency as a Type II from February 2019 to June 2020. With all of this I had learned how to use tools, perform agriculture burns, proper safety procedures, and plant trees.
Phoebe’s family moved to Tucson when she was 2 years old so she considers herself ‘almost’ a native. With a deep love of the Sonoran Desert, she had no desire to leave and has worked and raised her own 3 children in the Tucson area. Phoebe is a former small business owner with a strong background in Customer Service, and was thrilled to accept the invitation to work with the Arizona Conservation Corps in 2021. She respects the AZCC mission and looks forward to being a part of all of the amazing things they do in the future. In her free time Phoebe and her husband tend to be homebodies with the occasional Star Trek or Comic Convention thrown into the mix. She loves to spend time with her children and granddaughter and cooks extensively to lure them home whenever she can.
Dusty was born and raised in northern Virginia. After high school, he dabbled in college before deciding he wanted to explore other interests to figure out what he was passionate about. He apprenticed for multiple seasons on a small family farm before heading out on his first AmeriCorps adventure. Dusty served two years with AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, first as a Corps Member based out of Vinton, Iowa, and then as a wildland fire Team Leader based out of Sacramento, California. These years gave him a love of service, hard work, and time spent in beautiful, remote places. Dusty moved to Seattle in 2012 to pursue music, as well as a career and education in human services. He received a Bachelors of Applied Science in Applied Behavioral Science while working in the social services field, as well as landscaping and tree work to stay fit and sane. He moved to Tucson circa 2019 and has been enjoying the culture and beauty of the desert southwest ever since. Dusty led a fantastic AZCC adult crew on trails and saw projects in 2022, and is enthusiastic about his position as Program Coordinator at the Tucson field office. In addition to time on the trail, Dusty enjoys weird movies, word games, and playing the drums.
Jenna grew up in southern New Mexico, there she also attended NMSU and got her bachelor’s degree in Geography with a concentration in GIS. During her last semester she began volunteering with the local BLM office where she did trail maintenance and guided hikes while helping create a ‘space and place’ for others to gain connection and a sense of responsibility for our public lands. Discovering how impactful outdoor education is along with the feeling of accomplishment from working for and with the land while learning about the ecosystems she loved, confirmed her future in conservation work. She continued to gain field work experience through seasonal summer internships getting to work in the Mojave Desert with BLM, Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, and Pecos NHP in New Mexico. She moved to the incredible Sonoran Desert to continue work specifically with invasive species management being on a traveling field crew that partnered with federal agencies across Arizona and New Mexico. Now as a Program Coordinator with AZCC she continues to work on connecting others to the great outdoors.
Born in Bethesda, Jackson grew up in Maryland and Indiana, and later moved to Phoenix with his family in 2010. Moving to Tucson in 2018 for school, Jackson graduated from the University of Arizona in 2022 with a Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Built Environments with an emphasis in Sustainable Landscapes. Seeking something that would keep him outside as much as possible, Jackson was offered a position as a Crew Lead at the AZCC-Tucson office in January of 2023. His time spent in this position made him realize that he had a real passion for conservation work and wanted to pursue further careers in that field. During his time as a crew lead, he got to lead a variety of projects, including GIS data collection, trail maintenance, fence work, and flood mitigation. After a season of crew lead work, Jackson was offered the position of Field Technician at the AZCC-Tucson office, happy to be surrounded by great people doing great work! When not in the field or at the office, Jackson spends his time struggling to play guitar, camping and hiking without getting paid for it, and enjoying the Sonoran Desert and Mt. Lemmon.