Impact Story: What do aquatic macroinvertebrates tell Upper Delaware River Conservation Corps about stream health?

By: Edward Kim

Freshwater is one of the most, if not the most, precious natural resources in the world. Life would not be possible without healthy freshwater and the ecosystems it supports. Unfortunately, bodies of freshwater are rapidly disappearing or being contaminated due to harmful human activities coupled with climate change–but there’s hope thanks to Service and Conservation Corps.

Upper Delaware River Conservation Corps (UDRCC) is stepping up to help protect our country’s precious freshwater sources through outdoor national service projects. They’re currently leading an aquatic macroinvertebrate identification project in the Willowemoc Watershed in Sullivan County, NY to gain key insight on water quality levels from streams connected to the Delaware River.



This summer, a crew of UDRCC Corpsmembers set out to streams to evaluate its overall health through biomonitoring. In ecological terms, biomonitoring is a scientific method that studies organisms to determine the health and conditions of an ecosystem.



Biomonitoring is a scientific method that studies organisms to determine the health and conditions of an ecosystem

The Willowemoc Watershed, like many other freshwater ecosystems, teems with essential plants and wildlife. Here you’ll find numerous tree species and freshwater streams that are home to small and large mammals; cold-blooded reptiles and amphibians; residential and migratory birds; multiple fish species; and hundreds of aquatic macroinvertebrates.



Macroinvertebrates are organisms that can be seen with the naked eye and do not have a backbone. Examples of freshwater aquatic macroinvertebrates include insects such as mayflies, caddisflies, and stoneflies, as well as the larva of certain flying insects like mosquitos and dragonflies. Crayfish, worms, snails, and clams are other common aquatic macroinvertebrates.



Despite being spineless, aquatic insects support the base of the food chain in freshwater ecosystems. They’re critical food sources for larger organisms, notably salmon and trout. Did you know that fly fishing, a popular angling technique, gets its name based on the lures resembling the enticing insects fish like to eat?



Aquatic macroinvertebrates serve as reliable indicators of water quality for UDRCC Corpsmembers to survey. In addition to being abundant and diverse, they’re also relatively easy to collect with many macroinvertebrates staying in a small area most of their lives.

More importantly, many macroinvertebrates are sensitive to changes in stream conditions–including water temperature, pollution amount, dissolved oxygen levels, types of sediment, and more–but their tolerance levels to changing conditions vary based on the species. This means determining the number and diversity of macroinvertebrates in a stream can reveal useful information about the water’s quality.



Aquatic macroinvertebrates serve as reliable indicators of water quality for UDRCC Corpsmembers to survey

So far, UDRCC Corpsmembers have sampled over 600 aquatic macroinvertebrates in several segments of the Willowemoc Watershed. The crew locates macroinvertebrates through a method called kick net sampling, which involves wading in the steam and using their feet, wooden sticks, and the current to dislodge any macroinvertebrates hidden under rocks, wood, and leaves. The critters are then swept into fine mesh kick nets resembling butterfly nets before being identified and recorded.



According to Friends of the Upper Delaware River’s Policy Director Molly Oliver, the crew, “found a species of caddisfly (rhyacophilidae) and many mayfly species that are considered key indicators of a healthy stream, including an armored baetis (baetiscidae). A giant stonefly (pteronarcyidae) was a fun find. They can get to be the size of a baby carrot or your big toe.”

UDRCC Corpsmembers have sampled over 600 aquatic macroinvertebrates in several segments of the Willowemoc Watershed

While macroinvertebrates are collected and counted, the UDRCC crew categorizes them based on their order, family, genus, and species. This information can reveal much about the stream’s health. For example, if pollution sensitive macroinvertebrates–like caddisflies and stoneflies–are identified, then the stream is determined non-impacted or healthy since sensitive species can tolerate it.

On the other hand, if a previously abundant stream shows a drop in the number of identified species or suddenly begins to offer only tolerant species, then the stream would be considered impacted or unhealthy.



“One of the most rewarding things is seeing the crew members grow throughout the season. A moment inevitably comes when everything just clicks. They see a macroinvertebrate and can identify it without having to look at a key, or they do an assessment and can complete it correctly without needing help. Those moments make this work so gratifying,” shared Oliver.



Each participating Corpsmember has worked approximately 80 hours on this project, and that number is expected to double. This currently ongoing project provides insightful data on water quality that will aid community members in properly understanding and managing waterways connected to the Delaware River. Thanks to macroinvertebrates and the information collected by UDRCC Corpsmembers, unhealthy stream sections are being identified, and future initiatives to improve water quality and stream conditions will hopefully be more effectively decided upon and implemented as a result.

As part of the Delaware River Climate Corps (DRCC) initiative, this project was made possible after The Corps Network received roughly $3.7 million in grant funding from the William Penn Foundation in 2021 and 2023. UDRCC is one of many climate and conservation-focused Corps programs part of the DRCC initiative. A regional model for a national Civilian Climate Corps, this initiative seeks to improve climate resiliency within the Delaware River Watershed by training and employing young adults in environmental careers.


Update from The Corps Network’s Government Relations Team – July 24, 2023

By Meghan Castellano & Danielle Owen

Read this blog from The Corps Network’s Government Relations Team about recent updates from Washington and what they mean for the Service and Conservation Corps community.


Fiscal Responsibility Act (Debt Limit Law) Update

Over Memorial Day weekend, President Joe Biden and U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)  announced that an agreement had been reached on raising the federal government’s debt limit. This legislation passed the House and the Senate by a bipartisan vote and was ultimately signed into law by President Biden on June 3. This law H.R. 3746, The Fiscal Responsibility Act averted the debt limit crisis.

What’s In the Debt Limit Law?

  • The law will suspend the federal government’s $31.4 trillion debt limit until January 2025. The bill cuts non-defense discretionary spending for Fiscal Year 2024 and will limit all discretionary spending to 1 percent growth in Fiscal Year 2025. Along with rescinding close to $28 billion in unspent pandemic relief funds, the law rescinds $1.4 billion in mandatory IRS funds that were appropriated for this year in the Inflation Reduction Act. The bill will also toughen work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF).
  • The law also includes a procedure for passing the annual appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2024 and Fiscal Year 2025. Congress would be required to pass all twelve annual appropriations bills by January 1 (for those two fiscal years) or there would be an automatic cut to current spending by 1 percent.

What Does This Mean for Corps?

For the Corps community, AmeriCorps is one of the agencies that will have funding rescinded from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). AmeriCorps’s unobligated funding from the ARPA – excluding ARPA funding in their Salaries and Expenses, the National Service Trust, and the Inspector General accounts – would be rescinded. The funds that are being rescinded were expected to be used through what remains of Fiscal Year 2023 and in Fiscal Year 2024 as part of AmeriCorps’s multiyear ARPA implementation plan. Below is what the rescission of these ARPA funds means for AmeriCorps VISTA and AmeriCorps State and National:

  • AmeriCorps VISTA: A total of $37 million, intended to support living allowances in Fiscal Year 2024, will be rescinded. Due to this cut, AmeriCorps VISTA will not host a summer associate program in Fiscal Year 2024 and anticipates funding 500 fewer full-year member service years in Fiscal Year 2024 than in Fiscal Year 2023 (pending Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations).
  • AmeriCorps State and National: A total of $28 million, which was expected to be used for competitive grant funding in Fiscal Year 2024, will be rescinded. This will reduce the number of AmeriCorps State and National positions funded in Fiscal Year 2024 by approximately 2,500 AmeriCorps members.


Fiscal Year 2024 Appropriations

How Is the Fiscal Responsibility Act (Debt Limit Law) Related to Fiscal Year 2024 Appropriations?

  • While the Fiscal Responsibility Act’s immediate goal was to raise the debt ceiling so that the U.S. could avoid defaulting, it also included topline spending caps for Appropriators to use when creating their appropriations bills.
  • This legislation set the non-defense discretionary spending cap at $704 billion. This is a $40 billion cut (or five percent) from Fiscal Year 2023. The Appropriations Committees will be able to reallocate unspent funds, largely from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), that will essentially help to keep Fiscal Year 2024 non-defense funding at flat levels.

Where Do the Annual Appropriations Bills Stand Currently?

The Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations process is in full swing in the U.S. Congress. The House is close to completing its committee action on Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations bills. Unfortunately, House Appropriations Chair Kay Granger (R-TX), in response to pressure from the far-right wing of the House Republican Caucus, has decided to draft their Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations bills at Fiscal Year 2022 funding levels and not that level set in the debt limit legislation. The Senate is drafting their bills at the funding levels set in the debt limit legislation. Below is information on what is in the House draft bills for the Interior-Environment and Labor, Health, and Human Services Subcommittees.

  • Interior and Environment (bill passed out of Full House Committee)

    The House Appropriations Committee has held a full committee mark-up of the Interior-Environment draft bill. The draft bill report is linked here.

    • The draft bill contains cuts to the Department of Interior (DOI) overall and at the Department’s various units. There are increases for the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) for wildland fire management. The bill does include the annual $5 million at the USFS for “priority projects within the scope of the approved budget, which shall be carried out by the Youth Conservation Corps and shall be carried out under the authority of the Public Lands Corps Act of 1993 (16 U.S.C. 1721 et seq.).”
    • The draft bill’s report contains the following language:
      • “Federal Corps Programs. —No funding is provided within Title I for the Department of the Interior to implement the redundant Civilian Climate Corps. The Committee supports the work of the Youth Conservation Corps and the Public Lands Corps, two longstanding Federal corps programs related to conserving and restoring public lands and waters that partner with locally based, nonfederal corps organizations.”
  • Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education (bill passed out of House Subcommittee)

    As of the writing of this, the House Appropriations Full Committee has not marked up the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Appropriations bill. There is the potential for changes to this draft bill during the full committee mark-up. As it stands, the draft bill provides $163 billion in Fiscal Year 2024 funding. This is a cut of $63.8 billion or 28 percent below Fiscal Year 2023. If this became law, it would be the lowest funding level for the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education bill since 2008.

      • AmeriCorps – The draft bill would cut the AmeriCorps agency’s topline to $660.94 million. This is a fifty percent cut compared to Fiscal Year 2023. The bill would eliminate funding for the National Service Trust, which funds the Education Awards that Corpsmembers earn.
      • Job Corps – The draft bill eliminates funding for Job Corps, a cut of $1.8 billion that would eliminate job training and employment services for 50,000 youth who face barriers to employment.
      • Pell Grant – The bill does not provide an increase for the maximum Pell Grant award. The amount of a full-time Segal AmeriCorps Education Award is equivalent to the maximum value of the Pell Grant. If this bill became law, it would be the first time since 2012 that the maximum Pell Grant award was not increased.
      • WIOA Youth Job Training State Grants – The draft bill eliminates funding for WIOA Youth Job Training state grants, a cut of $948 million that would eliminate job training and employment services for 128,000 youth who face barriers to employment.


Are We Headed Towards a Government Shutdown? Could There Be a Year Long Continuing Resolution?

Given the discrepancies in funding levels at which the House and Senate are drafting their spending bills it will likely be difficult for the two chambers to find common ground. Fiscal Year 2023 ends on September 30, 2023. Congress has until then to pass an Appropriations package. If they are unable to do so they may pass a Continuing Resolution to keep the government funded at current levels until a decided end date. It is important to keep in mind that the debt limit legislation, signed into law in early June, also includes a provision that would reduce defense and non-defense spending by one percent from current levels if all twelve full-year appropriations bills are not completed by January 1, 2024.

If by the end of September 30, 2023, no agreement is reached to pass an appropriations package through both chambers of Congress and signed into law by the President or no Continuing Resolution is passed through both chambers and signed into law by the President, a federal government shutdown would occur.

#CorpsImpact Video Challenge

2023 #CorpsImpact Video Challenge deadline has passed.


Thank you to all participating Corps!

Congratulations to this year’s winners:

1st place- Urban Conservation Corps

2nd place- Green City Force

3rd place- Montana Conservation Corps


Visit The Corps Network’s Instagram or TikTok to watch our #CorpsImpact recap reel.



The Corps Network is hosting a Corps and Corpsmember-led video challenge campaign this August to showcase how #CorpsImpact their communities as well as what makes their Corps unique. See details about the contest in this fact sheet.


  • How many videos can my organization post?There is no limit. Your Corps can submit as many videos as you’d like.
  • What if a Corpsmember published a video entry from their personal Instagram account?That’s okay — we’ll still count their entry — but we encourage Corps to collect and post videos from the Corps’ Instagram account.
  • Can you clarify how the prizes will be distributed? We will announce the winners the week of August 14 through our social media channels and The Crewleader newsletter. We’ll also reach out via Instagram and email to the Corps that posted the winning videos. We will send the prizes via electronic payment or check directly to the Corps that posted the winning video, not to an individual Corpsmember/Individual Placement. We will leave it to your organization to determine how best to use or distribute the prize.
  • Our organization has multiple different programs and it would be hard to capture #CorpsImpact in just one video. Can we publish/enter multiple videos that each show a different aspect of our program?Yes – definitely! Multiple videos from the same Corps are more than welcome.


The focus is awareness. We hope this campaign will generate fun, easily-shareable, Corpsmember-created content that will demonstrate the various ways Corps positively impact the environment and their communities. From bustling cities to secluded forests, Corps provide a wide range of services throughout the country. We hope this effort will help current Corpsmembers learn about the broader Corps movement and gain exposure to other programs.


Meet Basic Requirements:

  • 1 minute or less
  • Upload on TikTok and/or publish to Instagram and invite the @thecorpsnetwork to be a post collaborator
  • Tag @thecorpsnetwork and include #CorpsImpact in the caption

Interest: Would this video inspire someone to learn more about Corps and the opportunity to serve in Corps?
Creativity: Is your video unique? Does it use humor, interesting camera angles, original choreography, a fun “plot line” or concept?
Quality: We’ll take note of extra effort the creators put into getting quality footage, editing clips, and making a visually appealing, well-packaged video.


Steps to participate:

1. Invite your Corpsmembers and individual placements to create videos! Each video should encapsulate “what makes your Corps unique” in less than 1 minute.

2. During the week of August 1 – 8, Corps should share the content directly on your organization’s Instagram or TikTok:

  • Uploading on Instagram
    • Invite @thecorpsnetwork to be a post collaborator. On the screen where you add a caption, choose Tag People >> Invite Collaborator.
  • Write your caption. The caption should use hashtag #CorpsImpact and tag @thecorpsnetwork. Also mention any important descriptive info (who’s in the video, where they are, who made the video, etc.). See below for a sample caption.
  • We will accept all the Collab requests as we receive them! The videos will simultaneously post to our Instagram page and your Instagram page. We will also repost any TikTok entries.

3. Corps should also share videos directly to this Google folder. Label videos so we know which organization they’re from. If you’re having trouble with Google Drive, other file sharing methods work, too – like iCloud, WeTransfer, Dropbox, etc. Just let us know.

Example Caption:

“Crew ABC with XYZ Corps is here to show how #CorpsImpact their community! This year, @americorps members Aaron, Darren, Karen, and Sharon were serving with @partnersite at #location by removing #invasivespecies and unwanted debris. We’re proud to join other @thecorpsnetwork member organizations in showing what makes our Corps unique and impactful.”

#CivilianClimateCorps #CorpsWork #NationalService #TheCorpsNetwork #ConservationCorps #ServiceCorps #ServeOutdoors #AmeriCorps


Following the initial campaign, we will do a secondary campaign to repost the submitted videos across The Corps Network’s social media channels (we will share your caption and add tags/ mentions to give credit). We will also create short highlight reels of our favorite clips.


Email [email protected] with any questions.

Impact Story: Job Corps Rx modules support prescribed burns in national forests and grasslands

Submitted by Alicia Bennett, Public Affairs Officer, U. S. Forest Service Job Corps

As national forests and grasslands implement their prescribed fire plans, the motto “Ready, willing, and able,” is an apt description that describes the support Forest Service Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers (CCC) provide year after year. The CCCs continually raise the bar in the support they provide national forests and grasslands. At the tail end of March 2023, this was evident when Angell, Flatwoods, Harpers Ferry, Great Onyx, and Jacob’s Creek Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers sent four prescribed fire modules to the Green Mountain and Finger Lakes National Forests (GMFL NF).  


Flatwoods and Jacobs Creek Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers combined their FFT2s to deploy a prescribed burn module to the Finger Lakes National Forest. (l-r) Left to right Jake Swift, Johnny Holloway, Alex Philips (Jacobs Creek), Otis Murphey (Flatwoods), Lorenzo Mata(Flatwoods), Amari Mouzon (Jacobs Creek), Bobby Davis, Casey Howard. USDA Forest Service photo by Jodi Vanselow.


The Job Corps Fire Program has provided consistent support to GMFL NF’s prescribed fire seasons since 2018. This year, the workforce provided by five CCCs allowed the national forests to burn 13 units within 24 hours on the Green Mountains National Forest and execute all planned acres on the Finger Lakes National Forest. All-in-all, the CCC Rx modules burned 36 units for a total of 750 acres. On top of this crucial assistance, the modules, alongside the Green Mountain National Forest, National Park Service, and Appalachian Trail Conservancy, implemented the Appalachian Trail (AT) Donaldson Rx unit. This was the first ever cooperative prescribed fire on the Appalachian National Scenic Trail in Vermont.  

“The Job Corps Fire program is essential to the continued success on the Green Mountain and Finger Lakes. It has provided us with the opportunity to burn on both forests on the same day and the ability to build multiple burn modules to burn multiple units on the same day on one forest,” said GMFL Forest Assistant Fire Management Officer Robert Goulding. “Being able to do this has allowed us to take advantage of short weather windows and maximize the productivity we can have in a short burn season.” 


Flatwoods Job Corps FFT2 Alex Philips works on a prescribed burn module on the Finger Lakes National Forest. USDA Forest Service photo by Casey Howard.


The benefits of a partnership like this does not flow only one way. Working alongside career employees, CCC Firefighter Type 2 (FFT2) students laying fire on the ground gain practical knowledge that cannot be taught in a classroom setting. The networking opportunities these training opportunities offer Job Corps students also cannot be understated. “One of my favorite aspects of going on the fire assignments is the people that I’ve got to meet, it has definitely expanded my social connections,” shared Flatwoods Job Corps student Jordan Rasnick. This was echoed by Angell Job Corps student Andrew Pontoja who shared, “I enjoyed getting to learn from highly qualified fire fighters with a lot of experience.” 

When national forests observe what they can accomplish with the support of the CCCs, they always want them back. Because of the amazing work accomplished, the GMLF NF is already laying the building blocks for future collaboration. “Loved having them here and hope that come burning time next year we can have them again,” said Finger Lakes National Forest District Ranger Jodie Vanselow. “Talk is already under way to bring another crew up to do mastication (heavy equipment) work on the forest. It’s cool to see what we can get done with the CCCs.” 


Flatwoods Job Corps FFT2 Dustin Tucker works on a prescribed burn module on the Finger Lakes National Forest. USDA Forest Service photo by Casey Howard.


The Corps Network’s Equity Statement – A Message from the CEO

Dear friends of The Corps Network, 

I am pleased to share The Corps Network’s equity statement. As our organization embarks on a new five-year strategic plan, this statement will guide all our decisions around development and growth.  


We acknowledge that the modern Corps movement traces its roots back to a program – the Civilian Conservation Corps – that did not offer equal opportunities to all. We recognize that the conservation world in which we operate has also historically lacked diversity and representation. With this statement, we accede the unfortunate reality that opportunity and access are not spread fairly. However, we also recognize that we have the ability and a responsibility to evolve, change things for the better, and invest in a more equitable future.   


With this statement at the center of our work, we aim to prioritize expansion of Corps programming in communities and populations that have faced environmental injustice and disinvestment. We seek to thoughtfully develop new career pathways and partnerships that set Corps alums on the path to well-paying, meaningful careers. We will offer more trainings and resources to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) in the Corps community. The Corps Network will also look in the mirror: among other steps, we are conducting an equity audit and supporting each staff member to undergo an equity certification course.  


While The Corps Network has been around for nearly four decades, this is our first equity statement. That is not to say this is our first endeavor to center equity in our work. With support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, we launched our Moving Forward Initiative in 2017. Through this effort, and the bold leadership of Capri St. Vil, we embarked on offering more DEIJ programming through our conference and webinars, training our staff on the impacts of systemic racism, and creating Corpsmember Liberation and Leadership – an innovative workshop designed to empower young people of color.  


I humbly thank Capri for challenging us and guiding us through this work. I am pleased to share that, as Capri has transitioned into a consulting role (and “semi-retirement” – she can’t go far!), our own Tia Blakney has stepped in to lead The Corps Network’s DEIJ initiatives. Tia has been an invaluable member of our Gulf office for several years, helping provide DEIJ training to GulfCorps members and staff. I applaud Tia on her important work thus far and I am excited to see what direction she takes us.  


Creating this new equity statement was a team effort. The language was crafted by members of our staff and Board of Directors, and the entire team at The Corps Network weighed in and offered feedback. I am proud to say this is a statement to which we are fully committed. I invite you to join us as we start this new chapter of centering diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice in our work at The Corps Network.  



Mary Ellen Sprenkel

President and CEO, The Corps Network


The Corps Network’s Equity Statement – A Message from the DEIJ Program Coordinator

As the DEIJ Program Coordinator, I acknowledge the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) in all aspects of our lives. It is essential to recognize and celebrate our differences, and to create a welcoming and inclusive environment where everyone feels valued and respected. As we know, there are so many different things happening in the world today around race and equity, but we as a community need to fully understand diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice principles so they can help us become more aware and better prepared to address all types of diversity and inequities, including those present in ourselves, our organizations, and the communities we serve. My goal is to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion through trainings, workshops, and other initiatives that will focus on bringing equity to the center of your organization. This work is a continuing journey, but together we can make a change. Let’s continue to work together to create a more equitable and inclusive future for all. 

I would also like to thank Capri St. Vil for moving this work forward and keeping the conversation going throughout her many years with The Corps Network. I thank her for being a mentor to me; her guidance has truly been invaluable. I am grateful for her support.  


2023 Next Steps: 

  • Provide a DEIJ toolkit that will guide member Corps towards implementing DEIJ within their organization 
  • Serve as a support system for member Corps 
  • Update The Corps Network’s website to reflect DEIJ changes 
  • Provide access to resources and trainings to member Corps  
  • Create an internal focus group to guide ongoing initiatives 


Tia Blakney

Programs and DEIJ Coordinator

Presidential Volunteer Service Awardee – Kyle Dash

The Corps Network recently became approved as a certifying organization for the Presidential Volunteer Service Award (PVSA). PVSA’s go to individuals who have served over 4,000 service hours over the individual’s lifetime. The Corps Network can distribute awards to member Corps who are in good standing and at the affiliate level or higher. The recipient must have at least 25% of their service hours with the organization. See requirements here.

Kyle Dash, a former member of American Conservation Experience (ACE), was the first individual that TCN awarded the PVSA. He served his 4,000 hours with AmeriCorps NCCC, and ACE, who nominated him for the award. He currently works as a wildland firefighter in North Carolina.

Q: Tell us a bit about your background, how did you find ACE?

I grew up in this small town called Moretown. It’s located about 20-30 minutes away from Montpelier in Vermont. I graduated from a four-year College in Vermont called Castleton University, where I got my Bachelors in Ecological Studies. I came about the ACE program when I did a term of service with AmeriCorps NCCC.

I was doing some career exploration towards the end of my term of service, and I saw that ACE offered internships with different federal agencies and I thought to try to apply to some of them. I was at ACE as a Forestry and Prescribed Fire intern.

Some hobbies I like to do are hiking, biking, reading, and playing the piano.

Service Term with ACE


Q: Where did you serve with ACE?

I served primarily in Southern Arkansas as part of the Southern Arkansas Refuge Complex, which consisted of three wildlife refuges. You have the Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge, which is more southern central and then you have Pond Creek, which is bordering Texas, and then you have the Overflow National Wildlife Refuge, which is more to the east, almost close to Mississippi.


Q: Tell us about your experience with ACE, what were some of the projects that you worked on?

I served with ACE from October 2021 to November 2022. When I first started my ACE internship, there wasn’t really a whole lot going on because it was the fall and winter seasons, and hunting was going on then, so not a lot of outdoor activity was happening. I got a chance to help run deer check stations where they checked for chronic wasting disease, and gathered data on the age and sex of deer to help monitor populations in Arkansas.

Other cool things that I got to do were biological surveys for fish and birds, particularly wetland bird species at Overflow because they have a bunch of impoundments where they manage a lot of habitats for waterfowl and marsh and duck hunting.

I did some vegetation surveys for timber stands. I got to be on the ground and did some prescribed burns on some of the refuges – which is cool, and then just did some ArcGIS and GIS mapping for different resources and miscellaneous tasks.


Q: What skills do you think you gained throughout the program?

I was able to get ATV and UTV certified. I got to learn how to drive and operate a tractor. I had many opportunities to practice doing animal and plant ID-ing. I did a bit of prescribed fire. I also got a chance to travel to Barksdale Air Force Base where they have a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service program on the base where they do some burning as well. And then I got to renew my wildland firefighter’s certs and renewed my first aid.

I was able to talk to a lot of the full-time employees at the refuge I was stationed at which was the Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge. Some of the pieces of advice that I got from one of the employees who was the refuge manager was to just get used to getting comfortable with being uncomfortable because there’s a lot of instances where you may be doing one thing and then the next day, you’re doing something completely different.

Q: What do you think you learned about yourself?

I learned to put myself up front more and engage more with the other interns that were there and other employees be like, “Hey, I have this idea. Do you think this would work or do you think this idea does not work?”

Also keeping my work life and my personal life separate to prevent workers’ burnout, and to manage my time better.


Q: What was your average day at ACE like?

The average day for me would be to start work around six or seven in the morning, log in on my work computer, and check my email.

Sometimes I would have to wake up and leave the work center by three or four in the morning to go do some surveys for birds because some sites were farther away than others, and I had to have enough time to be at those sites before sunrise.

Usually, I’d go out and try to help with doing any surveys. If there was no biology surveys that needed to be done, it would be beaver dam removal, helping to mark timber to be harvested, or helping to take inventory of what refuge boundaries need to be repainted or resigned. So just wide variety of different things. Every day could be different.


Q: What was the most rewarding/ beneficial part of the program?

I think one of the best things about being an intern and working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or I guess any federal agency is that you get to see a lot of the areas that the public necessarily don’t see. And so, it’s kind of a special treat to see different wildlife, different habitat types, usually stuff that is off the beaten path.

I also think the Segal Education Award at the end that I used to help pay one of my student loans was beneficial.

Since I worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, I was able to receive a Public Land Corps certificate which can help me apply for federal jobs. It helps employers see that I have experience working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and know how they operate.

Looking Forward


Q: What are you doing now?

I’m currently employed as a wildland firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service in North Carolina. Currently my goals are to gain more experience and skill skills in running a type-six fire engine.


Q: What advice would you give someone looking to join a Corps?

Some pieces of advice I would give if someone wanted to join a program like ACE or do service in general is… just knowing your limits and knowing your boundaries.
Know your worth. Stick up for yourself. Know what you’re okay with doing, what you’re not okay with doing. If you have questions about something you’re not sure of, ask questions. It’s better to ask questions sooner than later. But also, don’t let your fears get in the way. As I said earlier, get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Interact with other interns, other people, employees, get to know them, ask them lots of questions.


Q: How did you feel about receiving the Presidential Volunteer Service Award?

It felt good knowing I helped a lot of people and organizations with their missions and their goals.


Debt Limit 101: Everything to Know

What is the Debt Limit?

  • The debt limit places a statutory limitation on the amount of money that the U.S. Treasury Department may borrow to fund the federal government’s operations.
  • The U.S. Congress has historically restricted federal debt.
  • The federal debt limit was first authorized in 1917.
  • Since around the 1960s, the U.S. Congress has raised the debt limit more than 70 times.
  • When needed, the U.S. has always raised its debt limit.
  • One of the roles of the U.S. Congress is to pass spending (appropriations) bills and tax laws. The revenues from the taxes we pay are meant to cover the spending of the U.S. federal government. This includes Social Security, Medicare, and the Transportation trust funds.
  • Often there is not enough revenue to pay for that spending. This leads to the U.S. Treasury Department having to borrow money to make up that difference.
  • That borrowed money is the U.S. national debt, and it is estimated to currently be at $31 trillion.
  • Please note that debt has been accrued no matter which political party is in the White House or has the majority in the U.S. Congress.


What is Happening Now?

  • The United States federal government reached its current debt limit of over $31 trillion in January of 2023, and the U.S. Treasury Department is implementing what are called “extraordinary measures” to prevent a default.
  • The U.S. Treasury Department is currently predicting that the federal government will now reach the debt limit in early June 2023.
  • The Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), previously publicly stated that he would agree to raising the debt limit if the Fiscal Year 2024 Appropriations bills were written at Fiscal Year 2022 funding limits.
  • The U.S. House of Representatives, with the Republican Party in the majority, recently passed H.R. 2811, the Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023.
  • This legislation would raise the debt limit but would also reduce federal spending to Fiscal Year 2022 levels by largely cutting social spending.
  • This legislation will not likely be taken up by the U.S. Senate who has a Democratic Party majority.
  • Discussions are on-going between the White House and the U.S. Congress, largely between President Biden and Speaker McCarthy, to reach a resolution of the situation.



What Would Happen if the U.S. Does Breach the Debt Limit?

  • As with any of us, the U.S. federal government is required to pay its bills.
  • If the U.S. does breach the debt limit, there will be consequences.
  • This has never happened before and due to this it is not exactly clear what steps the U.S. federal government would take.
  • We came extremely close to breaching the debt limit in 2011.
  • In a document released following that occurrence, it was revealed that if the debt limit had been breached at that time, the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury Department had planned on prioritizing interest payments and that payments for things such as Social Security benefits and veterans’ benefits would likely have been missed.
  • It is believed that if we do breach the debt limit, the U.S. economy would enter a recession and it could lead to a worldwide financial crisis.
  • Our country’s credit rating would almost certainly be downgraded.
  • Unfortunately, because this is unprecedented, it is not known how exactly a breach of the debt limit would affect the Corps community.