AmeriCorps members served thousands of hours conserving the environment with Student Conservation Association

WASHINGTON, DC  – Three AmeriCorps members serving in the State and National program supporting environmental preservation and climate resilience projects received the President’s Volunteer Service Award, signed by President Biden, on Monday, July 17. All three serve in AmeriCorps State and National at the Student Conservation Association in New York and New Hampshire, the largest provider of hands-on environmental conservation service programs for youth and adults. 

The Student Conservation Association received seven AmeriCorps grants in fiscal year 2023 competitions, totaling nearly $4.5 million to recruit more than 1,200 AmeriCorps members across multiple states. These members will protect, restore and enhance public lands, waters, natural, cultural and historical resources in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa and the US Virgin Islands. 

“Dedicated individuals like Aurelia, Zarria, and Alexandria are what AmeriCorps is all about—improving communities and leaving America better for the next generation,” said Michael D. Smith, CEO, AmeriCorps. “I am thrilled to honor these three leaders for their hard work and commitment to conserving our environment.”

The Student Conservation Association’s new AmeriCorps members will participate in service activities spanning improving parks, public lands, and waterways; maintaining trails; conducting biological surveys; removing invasive species; providing environmental education; restoring historic public buildings; and leveraging volunteers to engage in conservation stewardship service.

“The Student Conservation Association is grateful for the support from AmeriCorps. Energized by our longstanding relationship, together, we can continue enhancing communities through conservation, climate action, equity and workforce development,” said Lidia Soto-Harmon, president and CEO, Student Conservation Association. “We look forward to the exciting opportunities ahead as we remain committed to fostering equity in the outdoors while building the next generation of conservation leaders.”

AmeriCorps, the federal agency for national service and volunteerism, brings more than 16,000 members and volunteers together every year to conserve natural habitats, improve energy efficiency, protect clean air and water, and help mitigate the effects of climate change. AmeriCorps programs help preserve more than 400,000 acres of public land yearly.

President’s Volunteer Service Award Recipients:

Aurelia Casey dedicated 1,050 hours to conservation activities. At the Hudson River Estuarine Sanctuary in New York City, she  protected and managed the sanctuary while improving awareness and understanding of the Hudson River through education and outreach. Along with her educational activities, Casey monitored oyster cages, eel mops--a structure designed to hold juvenile eels—and tested water quality. In addition, Casey served at Rock Creek Park leading Junior Ranger summer camp programs and served at Southeast Louisiana USFWS as an environmental educator in the wildlife refuges. Both were AmeriCorps programs with Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards.

Zarria Brown served 2,150 hours with AmeriCorps State and national at the New York Student Conservation Association, where she taught environmental sciences. During her time with Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge in Shirley, N.Y., she created engaging and exciting educational activities for the public. With Bighorn National Forest, Brown engaged the public and provided education around the geology, paleontology, flora, fauna, and other displays set up in the visitor center and other natural displays found in the local forest. 

Alexandra Ratliff spent 2,150 hours over the past 10 years and in four states engaging the community and corporate partners in conservation efforts. As a restoration management assistant, she helped to restore prairie and oak barrens/savanna areas at the Kankakee Sands Macrosite in Illinois. At Student Conservation Association in New Hampshire, Ratliff collaborated to engage Manchester-area high school students in year-round service-learning opportunities, including weekly educational activities, community service projects during the school year and conservation projects in the summer.