Las Cruces Staff
Michelle grew up in California and moved to Arizona in 2009 to attend NAU for a B.S in Forestry. She joined Arizona Conservation Corps in the summer of 2012 as a Corpsmember and loved the experience so much that she decided to come back and serve on six more crews. Working her way from Corpsmember to Program Coordinator, Michelle enjoyed working with crews throughout Arizona for 6 years. With Conservation Corps New Mexico as a new program for Conservation Legacy, Michelle saw the opportunity for growth in herself and the organization and moved to Las Cruces in 2018 to begin a new adventure.
Nina was raised in France and Belgium and traveled quite extensively with her family. One of her favorite memories is rolling down fields hiking down the mountains in Switzerland with her brother. She participated in the Girl Scouts of France a long, long time ago. Both of these experiences gave her a love for nature and the outdoors. Nina returned to the United States where she spent most of her career as a legal/litigation secretary for several high-powered law firms in Los Angeles, California. Now that her son is all grown up and her husband passed away, her financial obligations to her family are gone, she decided to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA with CCNM!
She/Her/Hers joined AZCC/CCNM in 2019 as an individual placement intern, working with the BLM New Mexico State Office in development and outreach programming. The opportunities in her internships gave her the privilege to travel all over the state. Fostering relationships between federal agencies and local communities throughout NM was the foundation of her servitude for public lands. The chance to become a part of the staff for CCNM became available in 2021, currently she is an IP Program Coordinator for CCNM. Originally raised in the hill country of central Texas. She now calls The Chihuahuan desert home. As an artist herself, she has always found a way to incorporate the arts into her passion for land stewardship and reconnecting peoples with the natural world. Much like the medley of colors in a southwest sunset, it takes us all to see the big picture.
Marissa (She/Her/Hers) grew up in Southern Arizona. Her love for the outdoors has been there for as long as she can remember. She spent most of her summers fishing, camping, and hiking with family and friends all around Arizona in popular areas like Flagstaff or White Mountains. Her journey with Conservation Legacy started in 2015 as a crew member with Arizona Conservation Corps. She has continued to serve within the conservation realm through various non-profits, those being: Arizona Conservation Crops, Conservation Corps New Mexico, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, and The Reid Park Zoological Society. She now resides in Las Cruces fulfilling the role as Program Coordinator for CCNM. In her free time you can find her exploring new places, riding horses, drinking coffee, and spending time with her dogs.
Valerie Herrera (she/her) is the Administrative Specialist with the Las Cruces office. She is very excited to join the team and to be a part of this organization! Her professional background is in Non-medical homecare for the elderly. A little about Valerie, she was born in Phoenix and raised in Tucson, Arizona and moved to Las Cruces permanently in 2014. Valerie and her husband have three kiddos and two very rumbustious golden retrievers. Her family loves the outdoors, they do a lot of camping. Her other hobbies are canning (food preserving), gardening and of course spending time with her family.
Conservation Corps New Mexico is also supported by Arizona Conservation Corps Staff
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.
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 was excited to return to her home region to 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!