Where Are They Now? Alumni Highlight: Jacqueline Kovarik

Woman standing in snowshoes in forest

Jacqueline Kovarik works with maps for a living as a Geographer with the US Army Corps of Engineers. Jacqueline served in the Corps in 2011 and 2012, first on the St Paul Parks Roving Field Crew, then as the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources GIS (Geographic Information System) Specialist Corpsmember.

What kind of work did you do when you were in the Corps?

Field work: Environmental restoration work, prescribed burns, tree plantings, trail maintenance. Special placement work: mapped newly developed mountain biking trails at Cuyuna State Recreation Area, taught GPS skills to CCMI (Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa) Field Staff, analyzed impacts to the environment caused by geocaching in Minnesota’s State Parks.

Were there any particularly memorable or challenging experiences during your time in the Corps?

Strenuous trail maintenance while on Spike at Lake Maria State Park was a challenge for our crew, especially during a rainy, poison ivy and mosquito-filled week. But the difficulties brought us closer as a crew and helped us appreciate and lean on each other more!

What was the most personally meaningful part of your experience with Conservation Corps?

Building lifelong connections with fellow crew members while learning new skills and doing work to restore our native landscape was so incredibly rewarding. A decade later, working for CCMI has been my all time favorite job!

How did the experience shape your career/life?

CCMI helped me develop a passion for environmental restoration, which is what I’ve focused my career on. Skills gained through my work with CCMI gave me so much confidence which was a great asset in my job search and interviews post-CCMI. I gained invaluable knowledge about native plants, restoration skills and chainsaw maintenance that I will never forget!

What advice would you offer to a current member serving in Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa?

Enjoy your time in the field – it goes by so fast. Take every opportunity to grow, learn and develop your skills because they are life long tools that will help you with any career you choose!

What did you do immediately after your time in the Corps?

I worked for the Minnesota DNR as a GIS Specialist.

Where are you now?

Working as a Geographer at the US Army Corps of Engineers.

What do you do there?

I work with GIS software to develop web applications, analyze data and help inform decisions for environmental restoration and construction projects. I also lead the districts’ drone program and assist with emergency operations when needed.

Thank you for sharing your story Jacqueline!

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