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 team in 2018 as Associate Director focusing on Local Programs. He now is excited to take on the role as Corps Director for both Arizona Conservation Corps and Conservation Corps New Mexico.
Kayla has always maintained a passion for community involvement, social connectedness, and environmental stewardship through volunteer opportunities. Kayla joined AmeriCorps in 2007 as an AmeriCorps VISTA for the City of Phoenix to develop a city-wide program focused on combating childhood obesity among low-income families. Needing to escape the city, Kayla followed a desire to focus on environmental ethics, and moved to Flagstaff in 2008 to complete a second term of service as a crew member with AZCC. She holds a B.A. in Sociology, with a minor in Environmental Studies, and has held various roles in conservation corps programs, land management agencies, and social service agencies. As the Enrollment and AmeriCorps Manager, Kayla is most excited to encourage and inspire young adults to navigate their own sense of community and environmental engagement.
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.
Afton was born and raised in Flagstaff, Arizona. She began her career as a 17-year-old Youth Conservation Corps member with the Coconino Rural Environment Corps (CREC) in 2000. That is where she caught the "corps bug", and spent the next nine years working in different roles at CREC. In 2006, Afton was awarded Corpsmember of the Year, and it was at this point that she decided to dedicate her career to protecting Arizona's natural environment. After her time at CREC, she spent two seasons on a fire crew with the Coconino National Forest. Following that opportunity, Afton joined American Conservation Experience to manage and grow their restoration program. Now, after seven years of expanding that program nationally, and developing herself both personally and professionally, she is excited to return to her home region in order to help conserve and protect Arizona's natural wonders. When not working Afton can be found playing with her puppies and horses and going on adventures, hiking, fishing, hunting, and kayaking.
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.
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!
Born in Washington DC and raised in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Egypt, Marci (she/her/they) first served with AmeriCorps SCC out of Salida, CO in 2011. After finishing her BFA in printmaking she went back to as a CM with AZCC in 2012 then a YCL for SCC in Durango in 2014. She returned to the Sonoran Desert to CL 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 the Communications and Outreach Manager 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.
Andi (she/her/hers) grew up in New York and Indiana and always knew she wanted to move west. She came to live in Flagstaff in 2011 to go to college at Northern Arizona University and has been here ever since. She graduated with a degree in Forestry and spent some time working in the restaurant industry. She started with AZCC in 2018 as a Crew Member, then led a variety of crews as a Crew Leader before joining staff as a Field Supervisor in 2020, a Program Coordinator in 2021 and is now a Logistic Coordinator.
She spends her free time camping, hiking, climbing, kayaking, doing archery, crafting and building things, playing D&D, and hanging out with her cats.
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 that surrounds Arizona has always been of high importance 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 Coordinator for the Flagstaff Arizona Conservation Corps office and she is excited to continue to support the conservation corps community.
Erin (they/them) is stepping into this role after spending the winter with Conservation Corps North Carolina as a member of their Advanced Women’s+ chainsaw crew. Erin is an East Tennessean who loves Dolly Parton and sweet tea, reading, knitting, hiking, climbing, and playing D&D.
Bryan joined as Program Director in December of 2021. Bryan started with the Conservation Corps in 2013 on a trail crew in Tucson, Arizona. Bryan later served as the Trail Coordinator for the Catoctin Mountain Park in Thurmont, Maryland before joining the Forest Service in 2016. Since 2016, he has worked on the Coconino National Forest as a wildland fire fighter. In his free time, Bryan likes to mountain bike, rock climb, and explore the local mountains.
Born and raised in Tucson, Sierra (they/them/theirs) has worked with Conservation Legacy since 2015, but started their Corps experience in Maine as a member. They worked from member to leader, stepping into a staff role in 2018, and now works as the Program Coordinator. In their off time, they enjoy hiking, drawing animals, and shaking down antique stores for their crosscut collection.
DeeAnn joined Arizona Conservation Corps in the Spring of 2017. DeeAnn started her work in conservation with Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources as an AmeriCorps trail crew member after completing her B.S. of Forestry at Iowa State University in 2012. She continued her work in conservation working for Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources, Utah Conservation Corps, and Southwest Conservation Corps. She has served as an Adult Crew Leader, Field boss, and Veterans Fire Corps Crew Leader. She now serves as the Logistics Coordinator supporting field crews’ logistical needs. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, and exploring the outdoors with friends.
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.
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.
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.
Born in Santa Cruz, CA and raised in and around the Bay area and upstate South Carolina, Justin first served with AmeriCorps NCCC out of Vinton, Iowa in 2012, ever-longing to live and breathe in the dirt he moved westward to serve in 2014 as an Individual Placement with AZCC Flagstaff, continuing service the following year on the MDP crew, leading a YCC term, and serving as an ACL for an Escalante saw crew. In 2016, he moved on to work in Wilderness Trails out of the Glenwood district of the Gila Wilderness and in 2017, he moved back to CA to work with Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District out of their Cupertino office to work with their maintenance crews. He moved cross country yet again to South Carolina to accomplish another one of his life goals; perfecting the Chai tea Latte while recovering from back-to-back knee surgeries. Upon this great period of reflection, he knew that he missed Corps work dearly and returned to AZCC as a VFC Crew Leader in 2021 and served for two seasons. He is now operating as a Field Supervisor for the Tucson office and enjoys spending time with friends, running with his dog (Dookie), painting, playing guitar, and video games.
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.