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Meet the New Iowa Field Specialist: Calvin Keibler

Our Iowa Program based out of Granger, Iowa is proud to present the first Iowa Field Specialist! Keep reading to learn more about Calvin Keibler and his journey so far with Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa (CCMI).

What positions have you formerly held at CCMI?

I served as a Crew Leader for CCMI in the Iowa Field Crew Program in 2020.

How did you learn about CCMI and what interested you in joining the Iowa program?

Before serving with CCMI, I was an AmeriCorps member for Habitat for Humanity. While we were on disaster response in Southwest Iowa, I had the opportunity to work with the Washington Conservation Corps. I loved the fact that they worked with natural resources, and I found out that Minnesota and Iowa also had a Conservation Corps.

What was it like being a Crew Leader with CCMI not having been a Crew Member first?

Honestly, I was a little nervous to be a crew leader for my first term with CCMI. I knew that there would be a lot to learn, but with assistance from the staff, and my fellow crew leaders I was able to quickly adapt.

What is one thing you love about Iowa?

I love how we have the ability to work in different landscapes, and the variety of land management practices that we are able to use in Iowa.

What’s one thing you would say to someone thinking about applying to join an Iowa Field Crew?

I would tell anybody who is considering joining a field crew to join right away! You get to learn a lot of valuable skills, work outside, and make some amazing friends along the way. It’s hard work, but it’s all very rewarding.

What kind of work have you done while in the Corps? Have you gained any new skills or certifications?

Last year my crew completed a variety of projects including chainsaw work, invasive species removal, trail building, disaster response, and building a boat ramp along the Niobrara River. I’ve picked up plenty of skills along the way too. I’m now confident with a chainsaw, I have my herbicide applicator’s license, I have my wildland firefighting certifications, and I learned a lot of interpersonal communications skills throughout my year.

Are there any particularly memorable or challenging experiences you’ve had?

Last August a derecho went through central Iowa and spread destruction throughout its path. My crew was one of 4 AmeriCorps Disaster Response Teams that went to Cedar Rapids to assist with the recovery efforts, and I was made the Operations Officer. It was a challenge to coordinate over 30 members, but the biggest challenge for me was working in an office instead of being out in the field and helping community members in person.

How will your experience with CCMI help shape your career path?

At CCMI I have been able to network with many different organizations, so I will be able to reach out to other natural resource professionals who will have a professional connection with me.

What type of work will you be doing in your current role as a Field Specialist?

As a field specialist, I will be working to help all of the Iowa field crews. I will be able to assist with projects, help crew leaders understand their responsibilities, and help in the office when needed as well.

What are your long-term goals?

A few of my goals are becoming a wildland firefighter in the Pacific Northwest. Eventually, I would like to become a biologist working for a National Park.

Do you have anything else that you’d like to share?

My AmeriCorps experience has led me to make close friends, make professional connections, and learn hands-on skills. I truly believe that AmeriCorps is a catalyst for personal and professional growth, and I wouldn’t give these last few years up for anything.