Russell grew up in the burgeoning metropolis of Phoenix, AZ. In search of a cozier and less sweltering place to live, he moved up to Flagstaff in 2003 to get his degree in History Education from NAU, and spent his summers as a camp counselor in nearby Prescott. After finishing up with school, he decided to put the ideas and knowledge he had gained from his education and camp experience to practice by taking a job with AZCC in September of 2008. Between the stunning locations, rewarding work, appalling caloric intake, and lifelong friendships here at AZCC, he would have a hard time doing anything else. When he's not out saving the world, one trail at a time, he likes to eat Mexican food, hike, canoe, play sloppy blues riffs on his guitar, root around in the garden, ride his bicycle, play astonishingly nerdy games, and most of all, sit out on the front porch with good friends and a grill full of brats.
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 Recruitment and Member Support Director, Kayla is most excited to encourage and inspire young adults to navigate their own sense of community and environmental engagement.
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.
Marissa has lived in Tucson since 2015 and though it is far different from her home state of New Hampshire, she has grown to love and appreciate the year round sunny weather. She does wish that Tucson had more rivers to kayak and more snow to ski, but she fills that void by hiking, rock climbing, and mountain biking with her husband and their dog-child Tonka. She grew up with a love for the outdoors and spent much of her college years participating in various conservation projects on and off campus. From the mountains of New Hampshire to Arches National Park to rural communities in Thailand, she has enjoyed the adventures and appreciated the hard work (and definitely caught the travel bug). As for her next adventure, she is excited to step into the Individual Placements Program Director position!
Steven grew up in the Midwest and received a degree in Wildlife Science from Ohio State. He initially got started in the field of conservation with the Student Conservation Association in 2013 as an Environmental Educator/Interpretive Ranger in New Hampshire. From there Steven went on to lead a variety of youth and adult crews in six different states. He also had the unique opportunity to serve as the Chainsaw Team Lead and Project Coordinator in the Caribbean for All Hands and Hearts, a disaster response organization following hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Between doing all of that, Steven has spent time teaching at an Environmental Learning center in Northern Minnesota and travels as much as he can. In his free time, Steven tries to stay active through hiking, sports, or anything that gets him moving.
Brendan Joseph Hamill was born and raised in Vista, CA. Seeking a change from the coastal tinderbox that was Southern California, he looked to attend college out of state - and immediately fell in love with Flagstaff, AZ. After constantly being misnamed “Brandon”, “Braden”, and “Brennan”, the 6’8 giant then decided to go by his middle name Joe. Graduating from Northern Arizona University with a degree in International Affairs and a minor in Mandarin Chinese was preparing Joe for a life of national service in one way or another. After graduation in 2019, Joe was lucky enough join AZCC's Flagstaff office as an Americorps VISTA. During his time with AZCC, Joe has met the amazing (and patient) staff and crew members that have been able to help him get settled as a VISTA. When not at work, Joe loves to track down the best Mexican food he can find, and train for an upcoming marathon.
Nate was born and raised in the lakes region of rustic New Hampshire. He first started serving with AmeriCorps in 2008, when he joined a wildland fire crew with AmeriCorps NCCC in Sacramento, CA. The following year, he returned to school in Plymouth, NH to earn a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science and Policy. Nate spent a few summers in between school semesters running trail crews with the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps in northwestern Colorado. Following graduation, he went on to serve in leadership roles with AmeriCorps NCCC, the Utah Conservation Corps, and the Texas Conservation Corps. In 2015, he became a staff member with TxCC and ran their trail program for several years. Nate made the move to the Arizona Conservation Corps in 2018. In his free time, Nate likes to hike, kayak, boulder, and go on long road trips to pretty places.
Jo started her career in experiential education in 2007 with international service-learning non-profit Operation Groundswell. She led programs in 12 different countries across 4 continents, eventually managing the organizations field operations as Programs Director, and finally developing organizational strategy during her term on the Board of Directors. With so much energy in her early years dedicated to service abroad, it was time to dig into some dirt work at home. Jo got her start in the corps in 2014 as a Crew Leader at the Southwest Conservation Corps. She loved the camaraderie her crews developed deep in the backcountry. She was passionate about helping her members get the most of their term of service through career trainings and goal setting activities.
After a few seasons with SCC, she ventured west to work as a tree climbing arborist, combining her love of climbing and rigging systems with saw work. After a brief apprenticeship, she was hired as the first ever female climber in San Francisco’s Bartlett office. When she wasn’t climbing trees, she volunteered with Causa Justa (Just Cause) in their Tenants Rights Clinic helping low income tenants facing illegal evictions and harassment.
Jo is delighted to come back to her conservation corps family as a Recruitment and Member Support Coordinator. In this role she will be bringing new folx into the corps world and helping our members to navigate all the opportunities our programs provide. Arizona Conservation Corps is the perfect venue to continue her work facilitating change in the world through service to community and environment.
Emily grew up in the fine state of Iowa. Much of her extended family are farmers– something she has always found admirable. She is inspired by her Dad, the hardest working person she knows! Emily always knew she wanted to move out of the state to learn more about herself and see new places. It wasn't until many years after college that she had that opportunity. She and her husband Andrew decided it was the right time to take the leap and move to a new and exciting place–Flagstaff! They bought a business and began to put down roots. She has always loved the outdoors and being in such a beautiful and diverse place makes all the adventures even that much better! Every time she sees the beauty around her she feels very thankful to now live in Arizona. She's looking forward to a new adventure with AZCC, working with others who care about the world around us.
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.
Joe joined the Conservation Legacy team with Arizona Conservation Corps in 2019. He started out as an AmeriCorps crew member with the Utah Conservation Corps in 2014 and went on to lead a handful of crews with the UCC throughout Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming. He then worked as Program Coordinator with the UCC in Cedar City, supporting crews from Escalante to Zion to Capitol Reef and everywhere in between. Joe currently lives in Flagstaff, AZ where you'll find him climbing, mountain biking, skiing, and exploring the canyons. He also creates art under the name Lone Coyote Art. If you're ever in Cedar City, UT go check out his mural on Cedar Sports shop!
Originally from the Chicago area, Dave moved out west to Colorado in 2012 in search of beautiful places and wide open spaces. There, he had his first experience in the corps world, working on a Chainsaw Crew in the Rocky Mountains. Since then, Dave has been traveling the American West, living in 5 different states, working for various Conservation Corps, teaching outdoor/experiential education, and fighting wildfire with the Forest Service. During this time is when Dave first worked with AZCC in Tucson as a Traditional Field Crew Leader and as a Veterans Fire Corps Crew Leader. It’s been an incredible adventure, but Dave is now looking forward to settling down in Tucson and taking on his new role as an Individual Placement Program Support Coordinator. In his free time, you can find Dave at many of the fantastic rock climbing destinations the Southwest has to offer!
Born and raised in Tucson, Sierra 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 Field Program Coordinator. In their off time, they enjoy hiking, drawing animals, and shaking down antique stores for their crosscut collection.
Born in England, Jannell moved to Tucson at five years old when her father was relocated for the US Air Force. Over the past 31 years in the desert, she has grown more and more in love with the southwest and everything it has to offer. She started working at Arizona Conservation Corps in 2019, bringing over 13 years of administrative experience. She was ecstatic when the opportunity presented itself for her to work for an organization that has such a profound and direct impact on our environment and society.
In her free time, Jannell enjoys exploring state parks and small towns all around the southwest with her husband and three dogs in their RV. She also enjoys spending time with friends and family, playing games, BBQing, and working on projects around the house.
Joshua (he/him/his) started his career in conservation with the American Conservation Experience in Flagstaff, AZ. After completing a term in Arizona, he moved back home to Austin, TX where he completed two more AmeriCorps terms with the Texas Conservation Corps. Taking his experience from the corps world, Joshua moved to Washington state, working as a wildland firefighter, trail crew leader and a winter stint as an arborist in Seattle.
Joshua returned to working with conservation corps in the spring of 2020, first working with the Southwest Conservation Corps in Salida, CO before moving to Tucson to hold his current position as Field Supervisor with the Arizona Conservation Corps.
When not working in the field, Joshua loves to spend time with his partner and dog, rock climbing, hiking, painting and playing music.
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’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. 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.
Julia (she/her/hers) was born and lived in Saudi Arabia until she was 7 years old. She then moved to Missouri, where she grew up exploring the lush green woods, flowing creeks, and dirt trails behind her childhood home. Julia graduated from the University of Missouri with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in marketing and a minor in French. She spent much of her time working for the Environmental Leadership Office on campus. In 2017, Julia moved from Missouri to Tucson to serve in the Arizona Conservation Corps as a crew member building sustainable trails in Kartchner Caverns State Park. After her service term, she developed her education management and marketing skills as a manager at Children’s Learning Adventure in Tucson. Julia is thrilled to be back working for the Arizona Conservation Corps. Outside of work, Julia can be found running, hiking, climbing, or hosting a potluck.
Danielle (she/her/hers) began her experience in the outdoors with Americorps St. Louis in 2013, where she gained skills in wildland fire, trails, and invasive species removal. She then discovered her passion for serving communities through conservation work and moved on to work multiple seasons with the US Forest Service in recreation and wildland fire. In between fire seasons, she worked as an interpretive guide with Arizona State Parks. In 2018, Danielle joined AZCC as a Field Supervisor for the White Mountains, then moved to the Tucson office in 2019 as a Recruitment and Member Support Coordinator. Danielle hopes to mentor and empower young adults to pursue a career in the outdoors, along with helping to make the outdoors accessible to all. Outside of work, Danielle’s hobbies include driving her manual Subaru Forester and exploring Eastern and Southern Arizona.
White Mountains Office
Shonto Greyeyes is a trail worker by trade, and an outdoor educator by chance. He draws experience from 7 years working in forests, deserts, and the occasional classroom. His current role is as a Program Coordinator for the Arizona Conservation Corps White Mountains Office. He has been striving to continually develop his skills to better engage youth and young adults within communities that do not have resources or structures dedicated to personal skill development and exposure to land stewardship opportunities. He works towards making a positive impact in the lives of youth within the White Mountains to cultivate more mindful, environmentally conscious leaders. Who are equipped with the skills and knowledge to inspire themselves and others to become pillars in their communities. Whether it's backpacking, mountain biking, rock climbing, or tending the corn fields, he finds myself most comfortable outside.
Red Thunder is Northern Arapaho and Oglala Lakota from the Wind River Indian Reservation. He most recently coordinated, facilitated and developed programs for the Montana Conservation Corps (MCC) focused on engaging Native youth and young adults from the Wind River Indian Reservation. During this time Red Thunder was also instrumental in the success of native programming including a leadership Summit for young adults in Yellowstone National Park. Before his experience with MCC as a Field Coordinator, he served 3 terms as an AmeriCorps member and VISTA (Volunteer in Service to America) member. Red Thunder continues to expand his knowledge by completing 4 National Outdoor Leadership school courses, the most recent course being Tanzania Scientific Research (TSR) expedition. The TSR Expedition focus was on the passion for science with wilderness exploration and cultural learning. Their team collected microbiome samples from various elevations and where the glacier receded on Mount Kilimanjaro.
Red Thunder has the distinction of being the first Northern Arapaho and Oglala Lakota from Wind River Indian Reservation to Summit Kilimanjaro. In 2015 he served as an intern with the Ancestral Lands program with Conservation Legacy where he gained leadership and interpretation skills while being stationed at Colter Bay in Grand Teton National Park. It was here that Red Thunder started his journey in the conservation world and looks forward to continuing to further himself and others. He is looking to pursue a masters in Environmental Science in his future. Red Thunder is excited to further his management and leadership skills with Arizona Conservation Corps.