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Ventana Wilderness Alliance

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#IamACE | Jendrik Hohn

Jendrik Hohn, and International Volunteer with ACE California, working on the Ventana Wilderness Alliance Silver Peak Wilderness Trails Project.

[ACE] Can you tell me about your background?

[JH] I’m 19 and I’m from Germany. I’ve been with ACE for 2 months. I graduated from high school last year in a small city near Bremen.

How did you find ACE?

On the Internet. There were many different opportunities that I learned about—volunteer work, au pair, work and travel, things like that. I finally found this volunteer opportunity in America: ACE!

What interested you in this position?

I didn’t want to be away from home for too long, and this program allowed me to do a 3-month program. I wanted to do something in nature, and something that was totally different from what I’ve been doing so far. It’s free, and I can do something that’s sustainable.

Can you tell me about a highlight and a challenge so far?

My highlight was Yosemite National Park. I went there on my off days with other people from ACE. I also really like this project we’re on now, there’s a great view, you can go into the ocean every day after work, it’s really cool.

The whole program has been challenging. You’re in a different country with foreign people. You have to adapt, speak the other language the whole time. I think this whole thing has been a challenge for me, but I’m glad I’ve done it.

Do you think this position has helped you prepare for the future?

Yeah, of course. I feel like I am more open-minded towards other people. Some people I would have never spoken with in Germany for example. You get more independent and flexible.

What do you think sets ACE apart from other organizations?

Everything is nice to each other. I didn’t expect that. I got to know about 40 people now, and everyone’s so nice. The work is fun although it’s hard. Nice people, nice work, what else do you want!

Do you have any advice for someone thinking about joining ACE or looking to get into conservation?

I recommend it to everyone who wants to try it, even people who are afraid of doing something alone. It’s good because you’ve got a lot of time and fresh air to think about everything. You can hear opinions of other people about what they want to do in the future and you can compare views.

#IamACE | Luka Bresseel

In this week’s installment we are joined by Luka Bresseel, an ACE California International Volunteer from Belgium. We caught up with Luka earlier in the year when he was working on the Silver Peaks Wilderness Trails Project in the Ventana Wilderness.

International volunteer positions are offered in our California and North Carolina branches. See our International Volunteer Program page for more details.

[ACE] Can you tell me about your background?

[LB] I’m from Belgium. I studied commerce. I’ve finished school last year and this year I’m taking a gap year.

How did you find out about ACE?

Through another organization in Belgium that has different projects around the world. They contact ACE and send volunteers.

What interested you about this kind of work?

I wanted to come to America, especially California. I was excited to combine meaningful work with fun stuff as well—like traveling. We’re going on a road trip soon to the Grand Canyon and Death Valley as well. The work can be really hard sometimes. All day in the sun! But it’s fun too. We have an awesome view to go along with the hard work.


Can you tell me about a highlight and a challenge of your term?

My highlight would be the awesome views during work and at camp, and the beautiful sunsets.

A challenge would be the blisters!

Do you have any goals for the future when you’re done with ACE?

I want to start studying at the university. Here you’re away from the Internet, no contact with people you know. You have a lot of time to think about what you want in life.

Do you think this position has helped prepare you for the future?

Yeah, definitely. It’s changed the way I think about things. You need to be motivated all the time. Sometimes it’s a little bit rough but you just have to keep going. I think it’s helped my work ethic. So in the future I might think “I was in Ventana working all day, I can study at a desk for two hours!”

What sets ACE apart from other organizations?

The crew leaders and project partners are really nice and helpful. It’s a nice atmosphere. They’re more like friends and less like your boss.

Do you have any advice for someone who’s thinking about joining ACE or thinking about getting into conservation?

Definitely try it. It’s a good experience.

Partner Showcase: Ventana Wilderness Alliance

This week we feature our partnership with the Ventana Wilderness Alliance (VWA), a non-profit grass roots organization dedicated to the protection, preservation, and restoration of the wilderness areas within California’s northern Santa Lucia Mountains and the Big Sur Coast (Featured header image. Photo credit: Brandon. Used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0. Generic License).

ACE Crew working on the Ventana Wilderness Trail System

ACE Crew working on the Ventana Wilderness Trail System

ACE’s partnership with the VWA began with the opening of ACE California in 2007. Since then ACE corps members and volunteers have contributed tens of thousands of hours of work to the protection of the Ventana Wilderness, and to the maintenance of public trails within the Ventana back country. One of the stated purposes of the VWA is to nurture effective and cooperative relationships with similarly concerned organizations, and ACE is proud to find itself within this category.

The Ford F150 truck which ACE donated to the VWA in December 2014

The Ford F150 truck which ACE donated to the VWA in December 2014

In December 2014, ACE donated a Ford F150 truck to the VWA. The vehicle is of particular benefit to Youth In Wilderness, VWA Trail Crews, and Volunteer Wilderness Rangers as they continue their efforts to preserve, protect, and restore the Ventana Wilderness. Rich Popchak, Communications and Development Director at the VWA, expressed his gratitude to ACE President Chris Baker:

“The Ventana Wilderness Alliance greatly appreciates the 4-wheel drive pickup that the American Conservation Experience donated to our nonprofit organization. Not only will this vehicle simplify the administration of our stewardship activities, it will also improve employee happiness and retention since our staffers will not have to use their personal vehicles nearly as much as in the past. This is a win-win for our organization and our education partners in the Youth in Wilderness program. The VWA is very thankful to ACE for this donation and we look forward to working together to improve trail access in the Ventana and Silver Peak Wilderness areas in 2015.”

At the time of writing, ACE Crews are at work on the network of trails in the Silver Peak Wilderness (just south of the Ventana Wilderness). The crews are performing maintenance on the Cruikshank and Buckeye Trails. In April efforts will focus on the Black Cone Trail, part of the Tassajara Trail network.

ACE would like to thank the Ventana Wilderness Alliance for their continued support and partnership!

To read more about the Ventana Wilderness Alliance please visit their website, and check them out on Facebook.