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Meet the ERT Members
Hometown: South Bend, IN
Education: B.A. in History and Women’s/Gender Studies from Indiana University
Why did you join: Opportunity to see a different side of the U.S. and gain experience and perspective doing something new and exciting, while helping people and doing some good in the world.
Future plans: I’m not really sure. I’m a terrible planner, but I hope to travel more and go back to school for a Master’s in Environmental Studies.
Hobbies: Reading, hiking, watching movies, writing, adventuring and trying new things!
Favorite quote: “The less I needed, the better I felt.” – Charles Bukowski
Hometown: Stow, MA
Education: B.A. in Psychology from the University of Vermont
Why did you join: To have an adventure and to help people in need and the environment. To experience a new part of the country, meet new people, and learn new things.
Future plans: Run a marathon. Hike the Long Trail in Vermont
Hobbies: I enjoy running, hiking, kayaking, playing sports, reading, watching “The Office”
Favorite quote: “I’m not superstitious, but I’m a little stitious.” – Michael Scott
Hometown: High Ridge, MO
Education: B.S. in Biology and Educational Studies from Webster University
Why did you join: I believe the urge to pitch in and help out lives in everyone. That’s called good will. AmeriCorps St. Louis seemed to me to be the ideal opportunity to fulfill that need at the same time as gaining practical skills and experience in a field I’m interested in.
Future plans: To obtain a Master’s degree; to continue helping others; to become an all-around handyman, fixer-upper, DIYer; and to become a legendary, corny country-folk singer-songwriter.
Hobbies: I’m a musical, scientific person. I collect and play musical instruments for hobby. Popular science and sci-fi are my favorite genres to read and watch. I’ve also long loved the outdoors, especially here in Missouri.
Favorite quote: “Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.” – Mohandas Ghandi
Name: Rebecca Cicoria
Hometown: Pine Island, FL
Education: B.S. Aging Studies from University of South Florida
Why did you join: Chiefly, for an adventure. I was looking for a challenging experience that would push me out of my comfort zone in order to acquire a breadth of different skills and help me to identify what I am looking for in a career. The fact that I can achieve those goals while exploring the country and helping better the lives of individuals and their communities is my reason for choosing AmeriCorps St. Louis.
What you hope to accomplish: I’d like to take advantage of as many trainings, certifications that I can, spend much time outdoors, and improve at least one person’s life.
Future Plans: I would like to keep exploring and volunteering, go back to school to get my masters in Aging studies, and possibly pursue a career in Geriatric Care Management.
Hobbies: Elder care, outdoor activities, exploring, collecting old things, playing board games.
Favorite Quote: “If the world is cold, make it your business to build fires.” – Horace Traubel
Name: Colleen Cole
Hometown: Black Jack, MO
Education: Some College
Why did you join: ERT provides an opportunity to serve communities both local and national when they need it the most. It will allow me to pursue my passion to help others and gain necessary skills in order to further my path to a career in social services.
Future Plans: I would like to continue on to a career where I can serve others, perhaps firefighting and search and rescue. For now, I’m just taking things one year at a time.
Hobbies: Dogs, anything and everything to do with dogs, but mostly my dogs 🙂 Other lesser interests include hiking (with my dogs mostly), dancing, fishing, sports (any sport), travel and exploration, documentaries, anime, and a bunch of other random stuff.
Favorite Quote: “The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.” – Oscar Wilde
Name: David Cook
Hometown: Missoula, MT
Why did you join: I want to serve with ERT to make a difference through my service and to learn new skills and improve upon skills that I’ve already gained.
What you hope to accomplish: I would like to gain experience and skills in new areas. I really would like to increase my level of certification in chainsaw and fire operations and become more proficient in those areas.
Future Plans: My plans are to become certified as a wilderness EMT/basic EMT and work for a search and rescue company or as an EMT/firefighter on a fire crew, wildland or city fire.
Hobbies: I love to be active. In the summer you can find me on the River, slacklining or hammocking in a park, in the backcountry camping, or in a local gym rock climbing. I’m always down for throwing a frisbee around. In the winter I like to snowboard and go snow cave camping and sledding.
Favorite Quote: “Follow, follow the sun, and which way the wind blows when this day is done. Breathe, breathe in the air. Set your intentions, dream with care.” – Xavier Rudd, “Follow The Sun”
Name: Francesco DiVito
Hometown: Amherst, NY
Education: B.S. in Environmental Biology from Niagara University
Why did you join: To continue service after completing NCCC. Disaster relief opened my eyes and helped me want to do more for people.
What you hope to accomplish: Getting sent on a disaster relief or recovery project.
Future Plans: To do something with environmental conservation or disaster relief.
Hobbies: Exploring nature by going on hikes or random walks.
Favorite Quote: “We’re all stories, in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?” – Steven Moffat, Doctor Who
Name: Matthew Farrington
Hometown: Waynesboro, VA
Education: B.S. in Geographic Sciences from James Madison University
Why did you join: I want to help serve our country while gaining valuable experience while meeting like-minded people who want to help others.
What you hope to accomplish: Fight some fires and help those in need. I love hiking so I’d like to be able to give back to other hikers by maintaining some trails as well.
Future Plans: Work towards creating a more sustainable future for the world as an environmental advocate.
Hobbies: I love hiking, camping, backpacking, kayaking, fishing…pretty much anything outdoors.
Favorite Quote: “Climb the mountain so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.” – David McCullough, Jr.
Name: Eli Hacker
Hometown: Portland, OR
Education: Grant High School
Why did you join: I want to serve with the Emergency Response Team because I want to gain more skills in the conservation field and challenge myself to leave my comfort zone more often. I also want the opportunity to assist communities with disaster relief efforts.
What you hope to accomplish: During my term of service I would like to document my experience with Journal entries and photographs to help share the AmeriCorps experience.
Future Plans: In the future I aspire to work on National Parks Service, Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management trail crews. I also aspire to join the military one day.
Hobbies: Mountain climbing, hiking, backpacking, reading, writing, Frisbee, playing with dogs, watching Star Trek.
Favorite Quote: “Coffee: the finest organic suspension ever devised…I beat the Borg with it.” – Captain Kathryn Janeway
Name: Kimberly Higgins
Hometown: Boston, MA
Education: B.A. in International Management from University of Massachusetts Boston
Why did you join: I had the pleasure to serve with members of Class 23 in Gatlinburg, TN, and was utterly impressed by the magnitude of the team’s abilities.
What you hope to accomplish: I plan to learn all I can about how various disaster organizations collaborate on the ground to serve those affected.
Future Plans: Big question. I’m swaying between fleeing the country to backpack southeast Asia or buckling down back in Boston for an MBA.
Hobbies: I love, love, love to travel. Put me on a boat, plane, or car going anywhere and I am a happy camper.
Favorite Quote: “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” – The Alchemist
Name: Leela Hospach
Hometown: McGaheysville, VA
Education: B.S. in Physical Geography from McGill University, QC
Why did you join: I want to learn new skills and apply them, meet new people and help them.
What you hope to accomplish: I’d like to fell more large trees and make my team the best it can be.
Future Plans: I want to work in hydrology one day, studying river. In the meantime, learn as much as I can.
Hobbies: I like pop music and going to the movies, long drives, and visiting national parks.
Favorite Quote: “You keep waiting for the dust to settle and then you realize this is it; the dust is your life going on.”
Name: Alexandra Humphrey
Hometown: New Carlisle, IN
Education: B.S. in Marketing and Advertising from Indiana University South Bend
Why did you join: The reason I chose ERT is because when I was getting interviewed, I asked the interviewers what was the best thing they could take away from this program. They said the people. The people you work with become like family and to me that’s important. Being able to help others with a team that acts like family is the perfect combo to a happy, fulfilling life.
What you hope to accomplish: I want to take my time in this program to help as many people as I can with the different projects we may encounter. Whether that be through the Forest Service, the disaster relief or the wildland firefighting services.
Future Plans: After AmeriCorps, I’m not too sure on what/where I want to work. I want to take my degree and use it to help others. I want to continue to help out in whatever community I end up and work for (hopefully) a nonprofit company. As to where and who, that’s still up in the air. Also travel as much as possible.
Hobbies: Hiking, kayaking, photography, painting, going to concerts, continue learning to skateboard, swimming, traveling, trying new/interesting foods, and meeting as many new people as possible!
Favorite Quote: “Coffee is the lifeblood that drives the dreams of champions.” – Mike Ditka
Name: Jane Kersch
Hometown: Dubuque, IA
Education: B.A./B.S. in Political Science/Global Resource Systems and Sustainability from Iowa State University
Why did you join: If I’m not working to help others and make the world a better place, then what’s the point?
What you hope to accomplish: Help animals impacted by disasters.
Future Plans: Work for legislators or nonprofits dealing with environmental and conservation issues. Rescue animals. Travel.
Hobbies: Watching Netflix, drinking tea, playing with animals, taking naps in the sun, going on walks/hikes, laughing with friends.
Favorite Quote: “I can and I will.” – Gina Rodriguez
Name: Sol Lew-Raskin
Hometown: Hardwick, VT
Education: Associate’s in Environmental Science from Community College of Vermont, Winooski
Why did you join: I want an interesting job, doing something new that helps people at the same time. I am a good fit at jobs with variety.
What you hope to accomplish: I would like to have chainsaw and firefighting training.
Future Plans: I plan to get a nicer truck and possibly to do more secondary education.
Hobbies: I like to swim, run, fish, draw and snowboard.
Favorite Quote: “It’s good.” – Roadhouse
Name: Nicholas Maya
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Education: B.A. in Ethnomusicology from New York University
Why did you join: I want to serve with the Emergency Response Team because of my love and respect for the outdoors and environment. I am always looking to expand my knowledge of my interests and passions, especially in regards to the outdoors. Serving on the Emergency Response Team would allow my to continue to fulfill that need. The skills learned during this program will help to expand my knowledge and further my understanding of the stewardship of our lands.
What you hope to accomplish: I’d like to continue to grow as a person both physically and mentally. I hope to make lifelong friends who share the same commitment to conservation as I do. Lastly, I want to end my service with the satisfaction that I made a positive difference in the lives of citizens across the country.
Future Plans: To continue to serve my country through the conservation of our natural resources. Potentially go back to school to receive my Master of Forestry or Environmental Studies degree. Also, to attend the Daytona 500!
Hobbies: Listening to music, fishing, NASCAR, Formula 1, and watching sports.
Favorite Quote: “The winner ain’t the one with the fastest car; it’s the one who refuses to lose.” – Dale Earnhardt
Name: Heather McSherry
Hometown: Farmingdale, NY
Education: B.S. in Biomedical Engineering and minor in Studio Art from Tufts University
Why did you join: To give back to other, explore other communities, learn from diverse individuals, and challenge myself.
What you hope to accomplish: Start a cheese club and get everyone to love cheese. Learn how to carve a tree stump into a bear.
Future Plans: Perhaps work for state/national parks, go back to school to study Environmental Engineering, or work with nonprofits.
Hobbies: Cheese club, geocaching, trying to live a minimalistic lifestyle, traveling, watching movies.
Favorite Quote: “You deserve to be completely found in your surroundings not lost within them.” – Rupi Kaur
Name: Brigid Mulroe
Hometown: Montclair, NJ
Education: B.S. Physics from Fordham University
Why did you join: I want to challenge myself, learn new skills, see new places, meet great people, and serve communities in need.
What you hope to accomplish: I would like to become stronger, learn about the ecology and natural history of Missouri and Montana, and participate in a prescribed burn or wildfire response.
Future Plans: I want to go to graduate school for environmental science and fin a way to keep working outdoors in conservation.
Hobbies: Anything outside – hiking, camping, biking, swimming. Exploring new places. Reading good books.
Favorite Quote: “We have the world to live in on the condition that we will take good care of it. And to take good care of it, we have to know it. And to know it and to be willing to take care of it, we have to love it.” – Wendell Berry
Name: Jason O’Malley
Hometown: Linden, MI
Education: B.S. in Anthropology and B.S. in Biology from Michigan Technological University
Why did you join: With the effects of global climate change becoming increasingly disastrous at an alarming rate, I decided that I wanted to serve on a team that helps mitigate issues plaguing our world.
What you hope to accomplish: I look forward to serving in the presently outlined structure of the program, but will look for opportunities as they arise.
Future Plans: I hope to continue my education, but I am unsure of what program will be the best fit for me. Whatever I do, I hope to have a positive impact on my community.
Hobbies: Playing music (guitar, piano, harmonica), playing ultimate frisbee, playing soccer, running, reading, teaching.
Favorite Quote: “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson
Name: Thamarlande Onesair
Hometown: Norwalk, CT
Education: B.A. in Psychology from Howard University
Why did you join: In 2010, I witnessed first hand what natural disasters can do to communities and families when the earthquake hit Haiti. I planned to one day be able to help communities in any way possible after such tragedies.
What you hope to accomplish: I would like to get my hands dirty in disaster recovery, aiding in the reconstruction of communities, mapping out my true passion in community service. I also know this team will be a physical and emotional challenge that I’m ready to transform in.
Future Plans: My plans for the future are to obtain the necessary medical and professional degrees I need in order to build a platform to aid in underserved communities all over the world.
Hobbies: Music, basketball and any activity that is new to me surrounded by good company.
Favorite Quote: “Always stay ready, so you never have to get ready.”
Name: Megan Paynton
Hometown: Dallas, TX
Education: BFA in Painting and Printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University
Why did you join: Personally interested in the mechanics of crisis management and disaster preparedness, and looking to join a service-oriented community.
What you hope to accomplish: To participate in construction of something like an outpost structure, and to accomplish some incredible hikes.
Future Plans: Considering pursuing a career in crisis management/intervention.
Hobbies: Very interested in space travel and insects; enjoy hiking, running, and reading about space travel and/or insects.
Favorite Quote: “Belief in one’s self is only a mirror of belief in other people and every person.” – Keith Haring
Name: David Pierson
Hometown: El Centro, CA
Education: San Diego Miramar College
Why did you join: I see this as a positive challenge for my own growth. I also feel that I can contribute a lot to the program and the people we serve.
What you hope to accomplish: Participate in search and rescues, maintain and/or build trails, assist victims in disasters needing either physical or emotional support.
Future Plans: I plan to go back home with the skills and lessons I’ve learned and apply them in a public service profession such as fire or EMS.
Hobbies: Surfing, hiking, playing video games, reading
Favorite Quote: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu
Name: Loni Jean Rodrigo
Hometown: Seattle, WA
Education: B.S. in Natural Resource Sciences from Washington State University
Why did you join: I feel a passion to serve with AmeriCorps. ERT includes what I am interested in (environmental conservation and disaster response), what I have a background in, and as a whole, what I feel helps me feel purposeful. I wanted something that gave me a goal.
What you hope to accomplish: Clearing/treating swaths of invasive species. Do a project that involves wildlife or animals. Volunteer outside of ACSTL.
Future Plans: Work in the environmental field. Preferably in environmental restoration.
Hobbies: Plants, wildlife, animals
Favorite Quote: “Well, I woke up to get me a cold pop.” – Sweet Brown
Name: Erica Peterson
Hometown: The World
Education: Some College
Why did you join: I met some members of ERT in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, during the response to the wildfires that happened. I felt so inspired and excited to work with these people everyday, I just had to join.
What you hope to accomplish: I hope to look back and say that I put my best foot forward in all that we accomplished together.
Future Plans: Just living in the moment, taking whichever adventure comes my way next.
Hobbies: I enjoy playing the banjo, chess, hiking barefoot, and being with the people I love.
Favorite Quote: “Would you like to live in a seashell? It would smell like a turtle noise, but I think it would be wonderful.” – Mattie J. T. Stepanek
Name: Cailynn Ponciroli
Hometown: Austin, TX
Education: B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Texas at Dallas
Why did you join: An opportunity for service that would not only allow me to do great things but also teach me so much.
What you hope to accomplish: Disaster relief and complete a marathon.
Future Plans: To make sure any project or job in the future that I tackle has a positive impact.
Hobbies: Hiking, music, traveling, movies, dogs.
Favorite Quote: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke
Name: Sarah Prill
Hometown: Hiram, Ohio
Education: B.S. Communication from Baldwin Wallace University
Why did you join: Interested in pursuing a career in disaster relief work and I am eager to explore more of the United States while serving with a diverse group of individuals.
What you hope to accomplish: Volunteer management, leadership experience
Future Plans: Advocating for AmeriCorps programs, international travel, disaster relief volunteering.
Hobbies: Hiking, biking, playing cards, cooking, laughing
Favorite Quote: “Do or do not, there is no try.” – Yoda
Name: Eli Schmit
Hometown: Eatonville, WA
Education: Eatonville High School
Why did you join: I enjoy all and any work done in the program and would like to help people.
What you hope to accomplish: Lose another 20 pounds and go on a disaster response.
Future Plans: Still in the works.
Hobbies: Lifting, making friends.
Favorite Quote: “People think it ain’t be how it be, but it do!” – T-Pain
Name: Kim Shonborn
Hometown: Chino Hills, CA
Education: B.A. in Physics and Religion from Wellesley College; M.A. in Asian Studies from University of Hawaii at Manoa
Why did you join: I’ve spent time on both wildland fire and disaster response and enjoyed making tangible contributions to the communities I served.
What you hope to accomplish: I’m hoping to get more fire experience, but beyond that I’m also trying to learn coding.
Future Plans: To join a wildland fire hand crew, maybe make a small video game while I’m at it.
Hobbies: Rugby, video games, reading
Favorite Quote: “This looks a good team on paper, let’s see how it looks on grass.” – Nigel Melville
Name: Stephen Strack
Hometown: Saranac Lake, NY
Education: B.B.A. in Agricultural Business from Morrisville State College
Why did you join: I want to serve because I want to learn new skills and be part of a team. I also want to travel the U.S. and see different places, and the ERT allows me to do that. I like being part of a team and being with our own little crew especially when the times get hard.
What you hope to accomplish: I would like to do as many different jobs as possible. I want to learn by doing and I believe ERT will allow me to do that. I have no real project I want to do, but I want to do a little of everything ERT has to offer.
Future Plans: I don’t know what the future holds. I know I want to live in a tiny house, but I’m not sure in what state. I seem to change my mind everyday about what career I want. I have also thought about going to grad school to receive a high agriculture degree. So, I don’t know right now, and I’m trying to figure it all out.
Hobbies: I like to play basketball and soccer. I also like to watch football on TV. I have recently learned how to play cribbage, which is a lot of fun. I like to watch movies and meet people. I also like to visit and tour farms. My passion is agriculture, so I am always into doing farm-related activities.
Favorite Quote: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” – Spencer Johnson
Name: Jimmy Tyler
Hometown: Indianapolis, IN
Education: B.A. in History and minor in Religious Studies from Indiana University
Why did you join: I have always had a passion to travel around and if I have a chance to help others will make the experience even better.
What you hope to accomplish: I would really enjoy networking in Montana and see if there are any park projets up there.
Future Plans: Not really sure, just trying to open as many doors as possible.
Hobbies: I love to play soccer/basketball and to work out.
Favorite Quote: “Not all who wander are lost.” – Tolkien
Name: Wren Wells
Hometown: Victor, ID
Education: B.A. in English from Carleton College
Why did you join: I want to serve with the Emergency Response Team because I want a challenge, and I want to continue learning and growing in conservation and relief work. I also want to work alongside dedicated and fun people just as committed and excited as I am!
What you hope to accomplish: Though I won’t be spending a lot of time in St. Louis during my term of service, I’d really like to find ways to get involved in the St. Louis community. Volunteering outside of my AmeriCorps requirements, exploring/supporting local art, music, farmers markets, etc., and finding diverse groups and micro communities to connect with.
Future Plans: Not concrete and ever-changing. I’d love to continue with conservation work for a while, and get into working with outdoor youth organizations/programs.
Hobbies: Hiking, biking, reading, rock collecting, the comics section in newspapers, climbing mountains.
Favorite Quote: “Fact: bears eat beets. Bears, beets, ‘Battleship Galactica.’” – Jim Halpert as Dwight Schrute
Name: Colin Wilson
Hometown: Hendersonville, NC
Education: The Academy at Trails Carolina
Why did you join: I enjoy the opportunities to learn new skills while serving both the community of St. Louis and my country as a whole.
What you hope to accomplish: Become a better person.
Future Plans: Maybe college, maybe not. I try not to worry too much about it. Maybe I’ll become a firefighter.
Hobbies: Hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, and listening to music.
Favorite Quote: “Be loyal to what you love, be true to the earth, fight your enemies with passion and laughter.” – Edward Abbey