Meet the ERT Members

Year 23 




 Will Cretinon – 2nd Year
Age: 25
Hometown: Jersey City, NJ
Education: B.A. in Geography and Management from Clark University
Why did you join: I want to serve my country by engaging with other people doing things I love.
Future Plans: Maybe become a paramedic, or work in local, state or national parks or hopefully join a fire crew.
Hobbies: Backpacking, camping, hiking, traveling
Favorite Quote: “If not now, then when? If not you, then who” – Dr. Jordan


 Savanna Johnson – 2nd Year
Age: 24
Hometown: Vancouver, WA
Education: B.S. in Anthropology and Human Biology from Emory University
Why did you join: To grow and challenge myself while gaining new skills. To have new experiences, meet new people, and help others in need.
Future Plans: Possibly serve in Peace Corps and most likely go back to school
Hobbies: Volleyball, camping, hiking, running, concerts, watching movies, baking, playing board games.
Favorite Quote: “Do. Or do not. There is no try” — Yoda




Name: Tiara Johnson – 2nd Year
Age: 26
Hometown: Cortlandt Manor, NY
Education: B.S. in Sports Management from the University of South Carolina
Why did you join: Challenge myself, gain new skills, and enjoy the great outdoors.
Future Plans: More travel , working on all 7 continents (3 more to go), eventually graduate school, and using my diverse skills for capacity building in international disaster relief/humanitarian aid.
Hobbies: Travel, sports, exploring
Favorite Quote: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself any direction you choose” — Dr. Suess


 Brittany Merriman – 2nd Year
Age: 28
Hometown: Collinsville, IL
Education: A.A. in Arts and Sciences from Southwestern Illinois College
Why did you join: I’m looking for the next adventure, but more importantly I’m looking for a way to empower others as well as the environment.
Future Plans: Finish my Bachelor’s Degree and eventually my PhD and perhaps Peace Corps. I want to save the world – Specifically our environment.
Hobbies: Mushroom hunting, rock climbing, yoga, and annoying my cat to death.
Favorite Quote: “I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues” — Lorax, Dr. Suess
“We are a way for the cosmos to know itself” — Carl Sagan



 Jesse Offard – 2nd Year
Age: 21
Hometown: Robertsville, MO
Education: Washington High School
Why did you join: I hope to improve myself and the people, community and environment around me.
Future Plans: To join the Peace Corps and maybe someday seek citizenship in a socialist nation.
Hobbies: Helping people, being outside, meeting new people, and experiencing new foods.
Favorite Quote: “Only a fool learns from his own mistakes, a wise man learns from the mistakes of others”



Name: Amital Orzech – 2nd Year
Age: 20
Hometown: Seattle, WA
Education: Nathan Hale High School
Why did you join: I want to serve with the Emergency Response Team so that I can make memories, build up my own experiences and leave a positive impact on the community.
Future Plans: To continue to serve until I know what I want to study in college and what I want to do in the future.
Hobbies: Drawing, hula-hooping, kayaking and zoning out to meditation music.
Favorite Quote: “If I’m honest I have to tell you I still read fairytales and I like them best of all” — Audrey Hepburn



 Alex Stradal – 2nd year
Age: 26
Hometown: Glendale, MO
Education: B.A. in Philosophy and Religion from Truman State University
Why did you join: I want to have an adventure and AmeriCorps seems like the right way to do it. I want to help those in need and I eventually want to have a career in public service.
Future Plans: Graduate school for public policy/administration, career in the government.
Hobbies: I am a musician and avid reader
Favorite Quote: “The unexamined life is not worth living for a human being” — Socrates


 Jordan Sutter – 2nd Year
Age: 26
Hometown: Steeleville, IL
Education: B.S. in Geography and Meteorology/Climate from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale
Why did you join: I would like to both serve my community while gaining field experience in my field of interest.
Future Plans: Working in some aspect of natural resources
Hobbies: Love being outdoors, hiking, climbing, sports, motorcycle riding
Favorite Quote: “Our greatest weakness in life is giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time”



Kelly Anderson
Age: 24
Hometown: Colorado Springs, CO
Education: B.S. in Geography and Psychology, minor in Philosophy from University of Colorado at Boulder
Why did you join: I want to serve with AmeriCorps because I believe that I have a moral duty to help others and to protect the environment. As an individual this is a very daunting task; however, with the framework and support of AmeriCorps it is easier to see the path to accomplish these goals.
Future plans: My future goals are to pursue wildland fire fighting and to spend as much time as possible outside. I would like to live in a place that allows me to pursue a career in fire and conservation, while also growing as an outdoorsman.
Hobbies: I love anything outdoors and I spend most of my time climbing, specifically bouldering. I also enjoy hiking, fishing, and when boulders are buried in snow, snowboarding.
Favorite quote: “Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle.” – Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland


Name: Don Andrews
Age: 41
Hometown: St. Louis, MO
EducationMehlville Sr. High School
Why did you join: I do like adventure, and simply put, I love helping people. It also helps me to look at things from a different perspective and to learn new things.
Future plans: To keep being of service either on this scale or higher, and to help AmeriCorps out in monetary ways.
Hobbies: Reading, performing, hanging with friends, and football.
Favorite quote: “Let not mercy and truth forsake you: bind them about your neck; write them upon the table of your heart” – Proverbs 3:3


Name: Justin Bigelow
Age: 23
Hometown: Highlands Ranch, CO
Education: B.A. in Politics and Government University of Puget Sound
Why did you join: I want to serve through AmeriCorps in order to help those affected by disasters and conserve America’s wildland. In addition, I hope to grow as a person by putting myself through stressful and physically demanding situations.
Future plans: In the short term I hope to continue to pursue volunteer and teaching opportunities at home and abroad. Eventually, I aim to complete graduate school focusing on international affairs and then pursue a career in public service.
Hobbies: Outside of AmeriCorps I enjoy browsing Reddit, watching good movies, and following University of Puget Sound Athletics.
Favorite quote: “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” – Steve Prefontaine


Destani Collins  
Age: 23
Hometown: Cleveland, OH
Education: Completing a B.A. in Creative Writing from The Sage College of Albany
Why did you join: I have the desire and capability to help others and our environment because I feel like it helps perpetuate positive change; AmeriCorps initiative allows me to do just that.
Future plans: My goals for the future are a career in writing as well as a career in humanitarian work. I love cooking, and I’d love to find a way to feed the homeless restaurant style as opposed to just shelters
Hobbies: My special interests are making people smile, reading, writing and working out!!! Extracurricular activities? Finding Hogwarts (I know it exists!), volunteering when I can, playing sports and finding different ways to enjoy life!
Favorite quote: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” – Edmund Burke



Name: Brianne Cositore
Age: 22
Hometown: Malone, NY
Education: B.A. in Anthropology from George Washington University
Why did you join: Community service was a huge part of my college experience; the more involved I became, the quicker I realized that service taught me more about life and about myself than I could learn in a classroom. AmeriCorps gives me the opportunity to work and to learn alongside others in a service atmosphere every day.
Future plans: I’d like to go to grad school after my term with AmeriCorps and pursue a career in humanitarian assistance and disaster response.
Hobbies: I love to cook, and I love to sing – and I often sing while I cook. Soccer is a central part of my life, and I’ll settle for any other excuse to be outside…or to snuggle up with a book.
Favorite quote: “Live the full life of the mind, exhilarated by new ideas, intoxicated by the romance of the unusual.” – Ernest Hemingway



Name: Devon Dovgan
Age: 23
Hometown: Merritt Island, FL
Education: B.A. in Sociology from Hollins University
Why did you join: I want to give back to my community because I am so grateful for the privileges I am endowed with. I believe service is an act of citizenship and a fundamental human responsibility.
Future plans: I would love to eventually be accepted into a Master’s of Social Work program with a focus on mental health. My dream career would integrate outdoor adventure with the therapeutic experience.
Hobbies: I am very outdoorsy and I love to backpack, climb, white-water paddle, and surf. My favorite activity in the world is being around a campfire with a group of cool friends and enjoying people and nature.
Favorite quote: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world.” – Margaret Mead



Name: Brittany Feathers
Age: 27
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



Name: Jake Friesen
Age: 24
Hometown: Inman, KS
Education: B.S. in Recreation Administration from Pittsburg State University
Why did you join: The opportunity to serve and give back is something I receive great satisfaction from and being able to work with AmeriCorps will allow me to do this on a much larger scale.
Future plans: I hope to be involved in the outdoor education/recreation field, or anything involved with being outdoors.
Hobbies: Anything outdoors, sports, traveling to new places and trying new things.
Favorite quote: “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.” – John Wooden



Name: Kat Humlicek
Age: 24
Hometown: Ames, IA
Education: A.A. in Liberal Arts from Kirkwood Community College
Why did you join: AmeriCorps places a person in extreme living and working conditions. It puts the word “community” into perspective. I value all this in my life. Continuing to grow my definition of “community” is why I serve.
Future plans: To continue rocking and rolling through this wonderlust life! Wherever that may take me!
Hobbies: Anything with good people, food, drinks, in an outdoor environment!
Favorite quote: “Give me a fresh pair of socks and I’m good to go!”



Name: Abby Hurd
Age: 22
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



Name: Brandon Janney
Age: 31
Hometown: Manhattan, IL
Education: A.A.S. in Industrial Welding Technology from Joliet Junior College; NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute
Why did you join: I want to serve in order to contribute to a better future, to give back to my country and make a difference.
Future plans: Continue a career working outdoors with the Park Service.
Hobbies: Anything outdoors especially rock climbing, hiking, running and backpacking.
Favorite quote: “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” – Muhammad Ali



Name: Ethan Kommer
Age: 21
Hometown: Pacific, MO
Education: Pacific High School
Why did you join: I wish to serve in AmeriCorps mainly to improve my sense of compassion and empathy for others and to experience a new set of circumstances and challenges to improve upon myself.
Future plans: To aspire acceptance of myself and anything I may become through the course of my life, to create and refine art that I love, to learn a multiplicity of things about the world, and to leave a positive and lasting impact on the lives of others I meet.  
Hobbies: My favorite things to do are to play piano, experience nature, engage in physical activity with my friends doing things like rock climbing or playing ultimate frisbee, exercising, and crushing the morale of all opposing Super Smash Bros. players.
Favorite quote: “When we hit our lowest point, we are open to the greatest change.” – Avatar Aang



Name: Ethan Mapel
Age: 24
Hometown: Natick, MA
Education: B.S. in Special Education, Teacher of Students with Severe Disabilities, from Boston University
Why did you join: My prior experiences with service work and the great outdoors have always brought me immense joy. The ERT seems like the perfect way to combine these two interests, while also providing an opportunity to work alongside some great team members.
Future plans: My future plans are very much up in the air…I hope to finish hiking the Appalachian Trail…find other service jobs down the road…maybe ride a tandem bicycle one day…
Hobbies: Outdoor recreation, special education, camping, hiking, biking, frisbee, music, reading and writing.
Favorite quote: “New experiences lead to new questions and new solutions! Change forces us to experiment and adapt! That how we learn and grow!” – Bill Watterson



Name: Rebecca Miller
Age: 24
Hometown: Aptos, CA
Education: B.S. in Anthropology and Geography from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
Why did you join: I saw this position as an opportunity for a great stepping stone into my future career goals.
Future plans: I would love for my next step to begin my Master’s with the Network on Humanitarian Action in Poland.
Hobbies: Running and yoga and swimming. Learning new languages. Discovering new places.
Favorite quote: “Everything works out in the end, and if it’s not working out, it’s not the end.”



Name: Sam Owens
Age: 24
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: Chandni Patel
Age: 27
Hometown: Decatur, AL
Education: B.S. in Finance and Economics from the University of Alabama
Why did you join:  To give added purpose and meaning to my continued travels, help others, and gain new skills.
Future plans: To continue traveling the world and attend nursing school.
Hobbies: I enjoy painting, hiking with dogs, traveling, reading, running and yoga.
Favorite quote: “Something wonderful is going to happen.” – A billboard in Florida



Name: Lucas Peterson
Age: 23
Hometown: Springfield, MO
Education: B.S. in Atmospheric Science from Mizzou
Why did you join: I am pursuing a career in Emergency Management/Disaster Response, I love working with people, and I’m always looking for a challenging adventure!
Future plans: To find a cause that I am passionate about enough to devote my life to, hopefully in disaster relief and humanitarian aid.
Hobbies: Photography, drawing, rec sports, reading and biking.
Favorite quote: “The most dangerous thing you can do in life is play it safe.” – Casey Neistat



Name: Carter Richter
Age: 19
Hometown: Jacksonville, FL
Education: Daytona State Online
Why did you join: After graduating high school 5 months early, I took a spot in a 25 member Corps with the SCA AmeriCorps in MA. After 5 months of conservation work and a whole year left during my “gap year” between high school and college — I wanted to continue serving. Helping people and working with others towards a greater good is not only for others but our whole country — what could be better?
Future plans: I would like to get my Bachelor’s in Environmental Education so I can teach children with disabilities and bring the outdoors to them.   
Hobbies: Soccer, running, swimming, fishing, boating, anything in the water, cooking, concerts, farmers markets, festivals, hiking.
Favorite quote: “For what it’s worth: it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald



Name: Tim Scott
Age: 28
Hometown: Baltimore, MD
Education: B.A. in Sociology from University of Maryland
Why did you join: Serving through AmeriCorps allows me to combine my passion for the outdoors with community service while learning new skills that will benefit myself and others.
Future plans: Get a dog.
Hobbies: Mountains, train tracks, tree forts, Orioles magic and season 4 of The Wire.
Favorite quote: “Did you hear about the circus fire?”



Name: Jenna Tegtmeyer
Age: 24
Hometown: Clarion, IA
Education: B.S. in Biology, minor in Exercise Science from Waldorf College
Why did you join: I completed one term with AmeriCorps already and enjoyed my experience. I love their mission and what they stand for as well as the opportunities available through the program. The people you work will on a daily basis are pretty outstanding individuals as well.
Future plans: To attend medical school and eventually participate in a program such as Doctors Without Borders.
Hobbies: I love the outdoors and I love being active, so I love just about any form of athletic activity. I like immersing myself in other cultures and learning about different ways of living life.
Favorite quote: “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” – Charles R. Swindoll. It’s all about perspective.



Name: Brenna Thompson
Age: 26
Hometown: Keene, NH
Education: B.F.A. in Photography from University of New Hampshire
Why did you join: I want to serve through AmeriCorps because I am extremely interested in emergency response and I have a strong passion for helping people.
Future plans: Attend grad school, complete the 67 4,000 footers in New England, hike the John Muir Trail.
Hobbies: Hiking, backpacking, photography, running, beer and wine tasting, gardening.
Favorite quote: “I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out til sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” – John Muir



Name: Lindsey Tripp
Age: 23
Hometown: Shelbyville, IL
Education: B.S. in Biology and Environmental Studies from Augustana College
Why did you join: I want to serve to better the livelihoods of members in every type of community. I wanted to serve with diverse people to broaden horizons I would never had been exposed to otherwise.
Future plans: Peace Corps is an option after 1-2 years in STL. I would then like to attend graduate school in the field of conservation biology. I would like to eventually have a career in international wildlife conservation.
Hobbies: I am interested in anthropogenic changes (climate change, land degradation, invasive species, and really anything else). I enjoy camping, swimming, boating, traveling to new places to meet new people and learn new cultures.
Favorite quote: “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau



Name: Brendan Watt
Age: 21
Hometown: St. Louis, MO
Education: Canyon del Oro High School
Why did you join: The opportunity for an experience that checks so many boxes regarding who I am as a person and what I am interested in and passionate about. Adventure and altruism!
Future plans: I’m not entirely sure yet. The world is full of different options and opportunities; all I know is that I will put forth my best effort and take each day as it comes.
Hobbies: Reading, hiking, writing, art, architecture, the natural world, music.
Favorite quote: “Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread.” – Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire



Name: Stephanie Wood
Age: 25
Hometown: St. Louis, MO
Education: B.A. in Communication from Mizzou
Why did you join: I love to work outside and I am looking forward to seeing parts of Missouri (and maybe the rest of the U.S.) that I haven’t seen before.
Future plans: Go to grad school for wildlife conservation? Taking it one step at a time!
Hobbies: Hanging out with my dog, biking, baking, running.
Favorite quote: “Even after all this time the Sun never says to the Earth, ‘You owe me.’ Look what happens with a love like that, it lights the whole sky.” – Hāfiz



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