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Meet the 2018 IP’s!

By: Caroline Fazzio

Spend some time chatting with CCMI members, and you’ll quickly realize how interesting everyone is. I have met some truly remarkable people while serving with the Corps, some of them very recently. As varied as the individual placement positions are from each other, even more so are the humans who fill those positions. We all hail from different homes, different walks of life, and different life experiences. Everyone has their own unique story, and I’m sure I could fill a novel with just one of those stories. But alas, I am limited by time, space, and word limits. So for now, I’ll just leave you with these mini bios.

*If you’re unfamiliar with the Duck Duck Goose vs. Duck Duck Grey Duck controversy: MN version—Buzzfeed; non-MN version—22Words; and opinionated but more comprehensive—Star Tribune.


Your name: Liz Bailey

Your position and host site: Community Outreach – Crookston, MN

Where are you from?

Vadnais Heights, MN

What is your favorite kind of plant or animal or microorganism?

That’s a tough question. I love native Minnesota wildflowers, one of my favorites would be a sunflower.

What is one current or upcoming project you’re working on that you’re excited about or find interesting?

I have been having a bad case of Spring Fever lately, so one of the projects I’m excited about and starting to work with is the Riverside Community Garden here in Crookston. I can’t wait to do what I can to help grow the community garden and get my hands dirty.

What is one place you would recommend for an outdoor adventure?

I would recommend kayaking at Chester Woods Park near Rochester, MN. It’s an easy and beautiful paddle through standing trees in the water.

Are you a Duck Duck Goose or a Duck Duck Grey Duck kind of person?

Definitely a Duck Duck Grey Duck person all the way.


Your name: Madison Douthitt

Your position and host site: SNA (Scientific and Natural Areas) Site Steward and Volunteer Specialist at the MN DNR Central Office

Where are you from?

North Carolina

What is your favorite kind of plant or animal or microorganism?

My favorite species are weird and typically endangered animals. For the last few years I have been enamored with okapis, they satisfy both of those criteria.  J

What is one current or upcoming project you’re working on that you’re excited about or find interesting?

I have been working on transitioning the SNA program to using Better Impact. The DNR as a whole is moving over to Better Impact for volunteer management and the SNA program is one of the pilot projects. I have been working on setting up the website and look forward to piloting the program with a few volunteers in the next few weeks.

What is one place you would recommend for an outdoor adventure?

Only one?

My close to home, everyday adventure in NC was driving the Blue Ridge Parkway and going for a hike. It is particularly amazing during the fall (leaf season).

Somewhere I am dying to go back to is Costa Rica. Crazy biodiversity, ecology, and who doesn’t love a volcanic hot spring?

Then of course, I should tell everyone to put Cape Town on his or her bucket list. Lion’s Head, Table Mountain, Cape Point. You can’t get the mega fauna there like you can in other places in South Africa, but the fynbos unique to the area are amazing and the hiking is superb.

Are you a Duck Duck Goose or a Duck Duck Grey Duck kind of person?

Duck Duck Goose. Soda. Casserole.


Your name: Alex Engelson

Your position and host site: GIS Corpsmember. Chippewa National Forest, Cass Lake, MN office.

Where are you from?

Sparta, WI

What is your favorite kind of plant or animal or microorganism?

I’m a big fan of trees, especially cottonwoods. And I love any sort of bird of prey, such as eagles.

What is one current or upcoming project you’re working on that you’re excited about or find interesting?

My overall job is to use GIS to update the roads database for the Chippewa. This summer I will be out in the field collecting new road data, which I am pretty excited about.

What is one place you would recommend for an outdoor adventure?

I think everybody should visit La Crosse, WI. Between the bluffs, the marsh, and the Mississippi River, it gives a lot of opportunities for outdoor adventure.

Are you a Duck Duck Goose or a Duck Duck Grey Duck kind of person?

Duck Duck Goose.


Your name: Abigail Enicke

Your position and host site: Historic Resources Specialist, Hill Annex Mine State Park and Croft Mine Historical Park

Where are you from?

Ville Platte, Louisiana

What is your favorite kind of plant or animal or microorganism?

My dog, Trixie! (Not really a “kind,” but she’s my fave!)

What is one current or upcoming project you’re working on that you’re excited about or find interesting?

At both of my sites, I’m documenting, archiving, and storing historical objects, documents, maps, etc from the mines. It’s really interesting, to me at least, because Louisiana doesn’t really have a “mining history” so I’m learning a lot of new things about the mines and life on the Cuyuna and Mesabi Ranges.

What is one place you would recommend for an outdoor adventure?

I went on a road trip across much of the Western U.S. a couple of years ago, and we stopped at Joshua Tree National Park. It was beautiful and such a different landscape from other places I’d been in the states. So my pick (if deserts are your thing) is Joshua Tree NP in California.

Are you a Duck Duck Goose or a Duck Duck Grey Duck kind of person?

I’ve never heard of Duck Duck Grey Duck…so I guess I’m a Duck Duck Goose person!


Your name: Caroline Fazzio

Your position and host site: Aquatic Invasive Species Specialist. MN Department of Natural Resources, Central Office in St. Paul.

Where are you from?

Equal parts Loveland, CO and Eden Prairie, MN

What is your favorite kind of plant or animal or microorganism?

It’s a tie between horses, wolves, and phoenixes

What is one current or upcoming project you’re working on that you’re excited about or find interesting?

I have been going through old annual reports from the invasive species program, pulling out data and information from the beginning of the program through the present. Eventually I’ll sort and analyze the data, as well as organize the information into a timeline for use by the staff and public. The idea is to get a big picture of the invasive species program since its conception. It has been really interesting to dig into the history of the program and see how things evolve and change over time.

What is one place you would recommend for an outdoor adventure?

Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. In particular, Trail Ridge Road—high pass above tree line with amazing views. It’s hard to beat the exhilarating feeling you get standing at the top of a mountain.

Are you a Duck Duck Goose or a Duck Duck Grey Duck kind of person?

Duck Duck Goose (and I’m not apologizing, MN)


Your name: Carly Gelderman

Your position and host site: Web and Social Media Specialist for the Scientific and Natural Areas (SNA) Program and the Minnesota Biological Survey (MBS)

Where are you from?

Shoreview, MN

What is your favorite kind of plant or animal or microorganism?

I was researching spring plants that will be blooming soon when I ran across the skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus). As you could have guessed, it smells horrible. I’ve seen it described as “putrid” “like rotting flesh” and of course “skunk-like”. The smell actually helps deter herbivores and helps attract pollinators. Skunk cabbage is one of the first flowers to bloom, often as early as March. It has the ability to metabolically generate heat (thermogenesis), which will often melt the ice around the emerging stem. I won’t call this my favorite plant… but it sure is interesting.

What is one current or upcoming project you’re working on that you’re excited about or find interesting?

I am currently editing 166 Scientific and Natural Area site descriptions. This is incredibly fun because each SNA is so unique. These descriptions include everything from the history of the land, personal stories of land owners and site stewards, the rare habitats, animals, plants and geological features that are often the reason the area became a SNA. Hopefully these descriptions will be added to the website soon!

What is one place you would recommend for an outdoor adventure?

Pine Bend Bluffs SNA offers one the best views of the Mississippi I have found in the metro. You have a pretty good chance of seeing migratory birds like tundra swans, pelicans, hawks, and eagles (which I saw last time I was there this winter) depending when you go. Either way it would make a beautiful early morning hike to see the sunrise.

Are you a Duck Duck Goose or a Duck Duck Grey Duck kind of person?

DUCK, DUCK, GREY DUCK. Nonnegotiable.


Your name: Aimee Gerhartz

Your position and host site: Urban Outreach Specialist with MN DNR Parks and Trails

Where are you from?

Chaska, Minnesota

What is your favorite kind of plant or animal or microorganism?

Northern Bluebells (Mertensia paniculata)

What is one current or upcoming project you’re working on that you’re excited about or find interesting?

I am currently helping launch Minnesota State Parks and Trails’ presence at the Adventure Station in the REI Flagship Store located in Bloomington, MN. REI has partnered with other public land agencies at stores in Washington DC, Seattle, Denver, and Salt Lake City to establish Adventure Stations that serve as public land information centers. MN DNR Parks and Trails will partner with the flagship store in Minnesota to provide information, resources, and awareness of recreation opportunities in Minnesota. The Adventure Station will serve as a great location for events, programs, and trip-planning. I am excited to be a part of executing this new project along with other outreach projects and partnerships during my year with MN DNR Parks Trails.

What is one place you would recommend for an outdoor adventure?

Last fall I visited Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area for the first time and had a blast mountain biking on the various trails. It was a great way to get the adrenaline pumping and see some fall colors. The State Recreation Area also offers and camping and yurts for an extended stay.

Are you a Duck Duck Goose or a Duck Duck Grey Duck kind of person?

Duck, Duck, Grey Duck. No questions asked.


Your name: Gina Hatch

Your position and host site: After a last-minute mandate from the Department of the Interior put a kink in my original placement at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, I was graciously welcomed in at the Conservation Corps office in Saint Paul. I’m serving there working primarily on youth outreach and engagement projects.

Where are you from?

Queens, New York

What is your favorite kind of plant or animal or microorganism?

I love trees and especially quaking aspens. The stem shape allows the leaves to flutter every which way so that when the wind blows through a stand of aspens it looks like a wall of green glittering sequins. Also, quaking aspen groves represent some of the oldest and largest living organisms on earth! The trees reproduce through their roots, giving rise to clone after clone all sharing the same root system and technically belonging to the same organism. One clonal colony of male quaking aspens in Utah (Pando the Trembling Giant) is thought to be about 80,000 years old and is the size of a small forest.

What is one current or upcoming project you’re working on that you’re excited about or find interesting?

I’m helping to launch a regular email newsletter for members of the Corps’ Youth Outdoors program. The goal is to give our high school participants guidance in college and career planning, keep them updated about environment-themed events around the Twin Cities, and supplement their educational programming with the latest news and research in science. I’m loving the challenge of trying to think like a high schooler and scour the web for the most attention-grabbing tidbits. The project feels like a blank canvas that I can just splatter with every color and shade of environmental interest, from urban ecology studies to citizen science podcasts. I hope that reading the newsletters kindles as much excitement and curiosity in the crew members as creating them has for me.

What is one place you would recommend for an outdoor adventure?

The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge! It’s huge, accessible by metro, and you might spot a river otter.

Are you a Duck Duck Goose or a Duck Duck Grey Duck kind of person?

On the east coast we play Duck Duck Goose but I don’t feel strongly about the matter. Whatever floats your waterfowl.


Your name: Aislyn Keyes

Your position and host site: Education and Outreach Corpsmember

Where are you from?

South Milwaukee, WI

What is your favorite kind of plant or animal or microorganism?

Thresher Shark

What is one current or upcoming project you’re working on that you’re excited about or find interesting?

The MJV recently released its Monarch Conservation Efforts Map to help users visualize what activities are happening across North America to benefit monarchs and their habitats, and to better connect people who are passionate about the issue. It features habitats, education/outreach efforts, research, citizen science, and our partners. It’s an awesome resource that I’m proud to have been a lead on!

What is one place you would recommend for an outdoor adventure?

Parfrey’s Glen, Baraboo, WI

Are you a Duck Duck Goose or a Duck Duck Grey Duck kind of person?

Duck Duck Goose for sure!


Your name: Tracy Knapp

Your position and host site: Planning Specialist at MN DNR

Where are you from?

Inver Grove Heights, MN

What is your favorite kind of plant or animal or microorganism?

My favorite animal is probably a wolf. The positive impacts wolves have on the ecosystem after reintroductions is mind blowing. Not to mention hearing wolves howl while camping is a pretty cool experience.

Find out how wolf reintroductions change ecosystems

What is one current or upcoming project you’re working on that you’re excited about or find interesting?

Right now I am leading an evaluation project for Gooseberry Falls State Park where they are installing a new exhibit at the visitor center. I will be focused on determining what areas of the exhibit are most successful and which aspects of the exhibit need further improvement. This will involve interviewing and observing visitors at the new exhibit in April. Then I will analyze the results and present the findings to park and planning staff.

Gooseberry Falls State Park is also developing an interpretive mobile app for visitors to use out on the trails. I am going to be evaluating the app in terms of user satisfaction and experience with the tool. I designed survey questions for visitors to answer and installed them onto the app. Once the app is up and running visitors can give us feedback, where we can then analyze the results and propose improvements to the mobile app.

What is one place you would recommend for an outdoor adventure?

I would definitely recommend the Sawtooth National Recreation Area near Stanley, Idaho. There are tons of backpacking, camping, and whitewater rafting opportunities. If you like high mountain alpine lakes and jagged peaks this is the place to go!

Are you a Duck Duck Goose or a Duck Duck Grey Duck kind of person?

Duck Duck Grey Duck all the way!


Your name: Morgan Kramschuster

Your position and host site: Part of the Great Lakes Exotic Plant management Team (GL-EPMT) with the National Park Service in St. Croix falls, WI

Where are you from?

Bloomer WI

What is your favorite kind of plant or animal or microorganism?

I love oak savannas so, an old open grown oak or Spiderwort flower.

What is one current or upcoming project you’re working on that you’re excited about or find interesting?

We have been doing a lot of office work which is different than what I’m used to and it isn’t particularly exciting but I’m learning a lot which is great. Also I’m really excited for field work to start and visiting the different national parks, especially Pictured rocks.

What is one place you would recommend for an outdoor adventure?

Anywhere you live. Get to know the area that you’re in, especially in Minnesota and Wisconsin there are almost always parks, trails, Lakes or rivers to explore and they can be quite beautiful.

Are you a Duck Duck Goose or a Duck Duck Grey Duck kind of person?

Duck Duck Goose!


Your name: Elizabeth Nault-Maurer

Your position and host site: Parks and Trails Web and Social Media Specialist at the Central Office in St. Paul, MN

Where are you from?

Cambridge, MN

What is your favorite kind of plant or animal or microorganism?

I love almost all houseplants, but English Ivy and Maranta are tied for my favorite. I also love the air plants that I have at my desk, both to look at and play with (as my coworkers have sometimes caught me doing….).

What is one current or upcoming project you’re working on that you’re excited about or find interesting?

As a former English major, I feel like I should say my favorite part of my job is writing some of the Facebook statuses for the Parks and Trails page, but honestly I love working on reports more! Each month I work on two reports about our Facebook activity and our website activity using Facebook Insights and Google Analytics respectively. It’s so fascinating to me to see how our social media outreach impacts our website visits, what posts people respond to more, and how we’re comparing to previous years. Honestly, I sometimes miss these projects when I’m done with them, but know I only have to wait a few weeks before I get to dig for the numbers again!

What is one place you would recommend for an outdoor adventure?

Boundary Waters Canoe Area, hands down! It’s my favorite place in the world. I’ve been on 20 trips so far and my goal is to hit 100!

Are you a Duck Duck Goose or a Duck Duck Grey Duck kind of person?

Duck Duck Grey Duck all the way!


Your name: Santiago Pelaez

Your position and host site: Community Outreach Specialist with University of Minnesota Cooperative Extension, Cloquet Regional Office

Where are you from?

Bridgeport, CT

What is your favorite kind of plant or animal or microorganism?

Lately, I’ve been fascinated by invasive species. They pose a big problem to a lot of different things, such as biodiversity and agriculture. But their biological drive to survive, and how their evolution as species led them to where they are today, is all very interesting. No to mention the fact that the stories behind their initial spread usually all start out very simple and innocent.

What is one current or upcoming project you’re working on that you’re excited about or find interesting?

I’m currently working with various teams within U of M Extension to help develop multimedia material for story maps. The goal is to use them as a way to highlight the amazing work that conservation volunteers around the state do and to give people a solid introduction to Extension based program. On a similar note, I’m also working on a podcast for Extension called “The Naturalist”. Working on this podcast gives me the opportunity to sit down with some amazing people and talk to them about natural resources topics in Minnesota.

What is one place you would recommend for an outdoor adventure?

I keep telling myself that I’m a homebody, which is pretty true for the most part, but if you’re on your way up the north shore and need break from the ride on 61, Sugarloaf Cove Nature Center is an amazing stop. Both trails give you an amazing view of the lake, and the beach area stretches out into the lake.

Are you a Duck Duck Goose or a Duck Duck Grey Duck kind of person?

Duck Duck Goose all the way. You’d get a funny look if you said grey duck out on the east coast. Same goes for pop, hotdish, weed whipper, and baaayyyg.


Your name: Matthew Remer

Your position and host site: Agriculture and Water Outreach Corpsmember, Cottonwood SWCD, Windom, MN

Where are you from?

Winsted, MN

What is your favorite kind of plant or animal or microorganism?

My favorite animals would have to be dogs. Specifically hunting dogs (Labs, Golden Retrievers, etc.)

What is one current or upcoming project you’re working on that you’re excited about or find interesting?

I am working with the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP). The MAWQCP is a voluntary program that helps farmers and landowners do everything they can to keep protecting our state’s streams, rivers and lakes. Farmers and landowners can use MAWQCP to gauge their progress in protecting water quality. I have been entering producers’ data into the MAWQCP assessment tool as well as mapping the fields that are being assessed in the MAWQCP mapping tool. I am excited for when I can get out and perform field verifications for the fields that are being assessed.

What is one place you would recommend for an outdoor adventure?

I would recommend any of the public land in Northern Minnesota. These areas are full of wildlife and fun activities that are enjoyable for all ages. I have spent a lot of my time in northern Minnesota and have enjoyed all the activities that I have participated in up there. Also my parents own a cabin near Hackensack which has made it much easier to get up there and enjoy the great outdoors of northern Minnesota.

Are you a Duck Duck Goose or a Duck Duck Grey Duck kind of person?

Duck Duck Grey Duck, duh. 🙂


Your name: Scott Struelens

Your position and host site: Youth Outreach Specialist, DNR Central Office Saint Paul

Where are you from?

Bettendorf, IA

What is your favorite kind of plant or animal or microorganism?

Any type of big cat (lion, tiger, jaguar, cheetah)

What is one current or upcoming project you’re working on that you’re excited about or find interesting?

I am currently planning several youth outdoor exploration programs, where individuals without much access to outdoor recreation opportunities will get to plan and participate in their own outdoor adventures.

What is one place you would recommend for an outdoor adventure?

Iceland has the best natural landscapes and there are many hidden and wild places to explore.

Are you a Duck Duck Goose or a Duck Duck Grey Duck kind of person?

Duck Duck Goose


Your name: Dan Weipert

Your position and host site: Exotic Plant Management Team, National Park Service St. Croix Falls, WI

Where are you from?

Stillwater, MN

What is your favorite kind of plant or animal or microorganism?

Brook Trout

What is one current or upcoming project you’re working on that you’re excited about or find interesting?

These first few months are dedicated to prep for the field season this summer, so I am really excited for field season to start. The trip I am most looking forward to is probably Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

What is one place you would recommend for an outdoor adventure?

BWCA

Are you a Duck Duck Goose or a Duck Duck Grey Duck kind of person?

Duck, Duck, GREY DUCK.

How do we land: Goose or Grey Duck?

Causation vs correlation anyone?


IPs not included:

GIS Mapping and Outreach Corpsmember – International Water Institute, Crookston

Community Outreach Corpsmember – Center for Energy and Environment, St Paul