As the volunteer coordinator for the NYSDEC Urban Forestry Program, I do a lot. My job duties vary throughout the year, ranging from planning ReLeaf workshops to creating theme and lesson plans for the 5th Grade Arbor Day Poster Contest. Reviewing Tree City USA applications is one of my favorite parts of my job; it’s so much fun to see how different communities across the state get creative with how they celebrate Arbor Day.
Many of my favorite memories from growing up include being outdoors with my friends and family. Those memories, coupled with my fascination for rocks, led to me study Environmental Science at SUNY Albany. I was positive I was in the right field, but I was at a loss for what I wanted to do after college. I spent my winter breaks of junior and senior year in Ecuador with an organization called Global Student Embassy. We worked on reforestation and local sustainability projects—experiences that helped ignite a passion for working with communities and trees.
After graduating, I was anxious to get out of Albany, so on a whim I applied for an internship in Wyoming with the USDA Forest Service through the Student Conservation Association. I spent that summer living on top of a mountain in the Bighorn National Forest in Wyoming providing interpretive services at the Medicine Wheel, a sacred Native American site. It was the best summer of my life.
After a solo cross-country trip home, I was back in Albany and still didn’t have a set career goal. After gaining some national perspective from the Forest Service internship, I decided to volunteer at NYSDEC to learn more about what happens on the state level. I worked with the DEC’s Gloria Van Duyne to update web pages.
Over lunch, I got to know different people in the office including Urban Forestry Partnerships Coordinator Sally Kellogg and State Urban Forestry Program Coordinator Mary Kramarchyk. I wasn’t entirely sure what their jobs were, but I knew they were always busy and frequently traveling! When a seasonal position opened in their program, I knew I wanted to apply, and that desire only grew as I learned more about urban forestry in anticipation of the interview. I realized urban forestry had been a part of my life without me even knowing; my favorite spots on campus were underneath the trees and I chose my first apartment specifically for being on the border of Washington Park.
When I was first hired with the NYSDEC Urban Forestry Program, I was the program assistant and my job was primarily clerical. Sally and Mary did an amazing job of showing me the various aspects of their jobs and before I knew it, I was given more responsibility to grow past the program assistant. I have learned so much in the past two and a half years and I continue to learn every day that I come to work. I consider myself extremely lucky to work with Sally and Mary as well as the other amazing colleagues and volunteers I have met through this job.
In the future I think it would be fun to live somewhere else because most of my life has been spent in Albany. With the perspective I have gained at NYSDEC, I think it would be interesting to work on a national or more local level. However, I know I still have a lot to learn from the urban forestry program and I am excited to see what the future holds.
In my free time, I love getting up to the Adirondacks to hike. I also love to travel and find the best Mexican restaurant any area can offer. When I’m not hiking or eating tacos, I love to spend time with my family, especially if it involves singing along to Frozen or Moana with my nephews.