Meet the Duluth Crew, Again!

member looking out across northern lake

By Braden Kowalski, Duluth Field Crew Member / AmeriCorps Member


I am a member of the Duluth Crew, which is one of four crews based out of the Duluth shop. While I was brainstorming ideas for this blog post, my crew lead Gabrielle Regnier shared how her crew last year, which was also the Duluth Crew, introduced themselves and shared a little about their experience with the Corps in a blog post. I thought this was a wonderful idea, and wanted to do the same! We’re a five-member crew, and a few of us shared a little information about ourselves and our time in the Corps.

member standing in front of creek

To start, I am Braden Kowalski, and I grew up in Apple Valley, Minnesota. Before I joined the Corps for my summer term, I was going to college at University of Minnesota Duluth, studying Computer Science. In the fall, I will be going back and continuing my education at UMD.

I wanted to join the Corps because during the past two years of Covid, I’ve felt extremely stagnant and unconnected to my community and environment, and I really wanted something to be able to contribute to and work towards to improve my community. The Corps has been exactly that. This summer, through all the meaningful service we’ve done, I’ve been able to dedicate myself towards being an environmental steward, and I couldn’t have asked for anything better. My favorite experience so far in the Corps has to be the relationships formed between myself and my Corps-mates. Everyone I’ve met in Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa has been kind, respectful, and so incredibly hardworking. Despite everyone’s incredibly varied backgrounds, we all are serving to make a difference. Furthermore, I have loved having the opportunity to serve with my Crew all summer long. All our different strengths blend together so well, and it has been a real honor to serve with them all.

member cutting with chainsaw

Up next, this is my Crew leader Gabrielle Regnier. Before her time in the Corps, she was bartending and a lab assistant at East Saint Louis Estuarine Research Reserve. She was inspired to join the Corps because her old band mate was in the Youth Corps and spoke very highly of it. She also wanted to work outside and get experience doing a variety of different field work. Out of everything we do in the Corps, Gab loves the variety of projects we do, especially shoreline restoration. Additionally, she wants to share that one thing she learned in her 2 terms with the Corps is that it is a fantastic way of creating new friendships. She loves getting to serve with so many other people with the same passion for nature.

member looking out across northern lake

Kellan Hamrick is from South Carolina, and before he joined the Corps he was working in a large botanical garden in Pennsylvania. He says the work was similar to what we do in CCMI a lot of the time, but it always felt a little artificial there. He wanted to join the Corps because he wanted to work in a more natural environment and explore a whole new state. So far, his favorite experience has been getting the chance to hike so many different state parks. From the front-country money-makers to the back-country sites no one’s heard of, they’re all a little different.