Las Cruces Staff
Mike (he/him/his) was born and raised in Yuma, AZ. He grew up exploring and hiking through the desert with his grandfather where they would pick up trash left behind by other people. This fostered a love for the desert and nature. Since then he has lived in, explored and worked all over the state of Arizona. Mike joined Arizona Conservation Corps as a corpsmember in 2017 and fell in love with the hard work and beautiful vistas, so he returned for 6 more terms. In 2019 he moved to New Mexico to work with Conservation Corps New Mexico where he eventually became the Field Supervisor, then Program Coordinator. In his free time Mike enjoys hiking, backpacking, camping and traveling.
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!
Conservation Corps New Mexico is also supported by Arizona Conservation Corps Staff
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!
Lee joined AZCC & CCNM 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 & CCNM 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.
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.
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.
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!
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 Conservation Legacy as a Field Supervisor for the Arizona Conservation Corps White Mountains office. She then moved to the Tucson office in 2019 as a Recruitment and Member Support Coordinator, supporting Conservation Corps New Mexico.
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.