Congratulations to Jenna Miladin on winning a 2024 Corpsmember of the Year Award! All awardees will be recognized at #CorpsCon24 – The Corps Network National Conference. This event will take place March 19 – 21 in Washington, DC. Click here to learn more about the Conference. Click here to learn about The Corps Network’s awards. Click here to learn about 2024 Corpsmember of the Year finalists.
“Perhaps the best thing about this program is that it’s not just about the Corpsmember; they are working to contribute to a larger purpose. Whether their work serves the community, the landscape, or other agencies, Corpsmembers leave a part of themselves where they serve.”
Jenna Miladin’s service as a Corpsmember with the Great Basin Institute at Capitol Reef National Park in 2022 and 2023 was filled with outstanding achievements, contributions, and growth. In her first term, Jenna played a pivotal role in a large-scale restoration project with the National Park Service (NPS) by overseeing the collection and cataloging of native seeds across the park. Notably, she made a significant scientific discovery regarding a little-known insect parasitizing key aster species, which led to groundbreaking research that was presented at regional and national conferences and is currently being developed into a peer-reviewed publication. Jenna shined as a leader after being promoted to lead resource technician this year. In this new role, she mentored others while conducting genetic sampling and revamping the Corps’ plant species sampling protocols.
Despite facing physical challenges due to muscular dystrophy, Jenna’s positive influence on her Corps, peers, and the community resonated through her team. She approached her work with unwavering enthusiasm, a positive attitude, and a constant willingness to tackle any task. Jenna’s resilience and determination played a key role in fostering a collaborative and uplifting work environment. “She is positive, hardworking, smart, enthusiastic, and always ready for a new assignment. Everyone responds to this, even the grumpiest of park employees brighten when they see and work with her,” said Kaelyn Hadel, AmeriCorps Program Coordinator for the Great Basin Institute. “She holds high work standards of herself but doesn’t pressure others to meet her own standards.”
Jenna’s Corps experiences have had a profound impact on her academic and conservation career. While managing her Corps projects, she successfully defended her master’s thesis and got accepted by a Ph.D. program in Biological Sciences at the University of Arkansas. Her Corps experience not only contributed to her academic qualifications but also solidified her dedication to conservation and applied science. Jenna also gained confidence in her leadership abilities while leading field research projects and presenting her work to others at conferences.
Jenna’s time at Capitol Reef work allowed her to creatively solve botanical challenges, and she gained a sense of community among like-minded individuals dedicated to the park’s conservation goals. The unique desert landscape taught her valuable environmental lessons about endurance and the significance of preserving natural resources.
After earning her Ph.D., Jenna aims to apply her evolutionary biology research focusing on climate change effects on plant life. Her educational background and experiences as a Corpsmember, coupled with Corps and NPS mentorship, have shaped her into a confident and capable scientist. She plans to utilize her AmeriCorps education award for future learning opportunities.
Jenna credits Corps programs to play a crucial role in addressing climate change and understanding its impact on biological systems. The hands-on research and monitoring conducted by Corpsmembers contribute valuable insights, especially in protected areas, that aid natural resource managers in making informed decisions. Jenna sees Corps as a platform for innovative research and on-the-ground work that addresses the broader challenges posed by climate change.