Project Highlight: Aislyn Keyes

By: Megan Zeiher, Recruitment Coordinator

Winter feels a little longer for AmeriCorps Member, Aislyn Keyes, who serves as the Education and Outreach Corpsmember for Monarch Joint Venture (MJV).

“It's been a long winter without the monarchs, and I'm anxiously awaiting their return. I get weekly updates on their migration from Journey North. It's really exciting because I've never followed their migration so closely. I'm also looking forward to doing more public outreach—things start to pick up in the spring.” 

Although spring and the return of the monarchs have been on her mind, Aislyn’s work doesn’t halt in the winter months. Her days are filled with creating and posting social media content, writing news updates and website content, sending out educational materials and outreach handouts, informal communication with the public on monarch conservation efforts, tabling at public events, giving presentations to interested groups and whatever else comes up depending on MJV’s current projects. MJV’s newly released Monarch Conservation Efforts Map is one of those projects she’s had the opportunity to take the lead on this winter.

“Before the release of the map, I did a lot of data organization. I condensed multiple spreadsheets filled with a mixture of relevant and irrelevant information, and ended with five spreadsheets, organized identically, to be uploaded under the five categories. I helped with web and social media content associated with the map, as well as sending out the survey. Now that the map is posted, I'm in charge of approving new entries and coordinating with organizations that have multiple projects to contribute to the map.”

The map is a resource helping users visualize the education, outreach, habitat work, research, citizen science and other conservation activities happening for monarchs across North America. The map also provides a unique opportunity for people passionate about monarch conservation to connect. Users can zoom or search their zip codes to connect with local efforts. Since monarch conservation is always progressing, the map is a living resource and anyone can contribute their projects.

“Beyond its utility in connecting people, it serves as a constant source of hope and inspiration as we strive to stabilize the monarch population and migration.”

Pit falls

By: Kelsey Brock


So, here we are, three projects in. One of these projects was an invasive species clearing in Lac Qui Parle State Park for the DNR Parks and Trails. This involved clearing out a section of Black Locust trees that were invading in on the area. The majority of these were relatively smaller trees, and of course tangled with some buckthorn, everyone’s favorite.

The downsides to the project:
•It was (and is) somehow still snowing, and I’m personally very upset about this. Yes, I’m aware this is Minnesota, but that’s not a very good excuse if you ask me.
•Because it had snowed, the melting ice underneath was covered up, which then lead to me falling into a pit.
•It was cold. Again, the snow is to blame for this.


But then we have the upsides to the project:
•Getting experience working with a species most of us hadn’t before
•Getting a good laugh following my fall into the pit, as our crew leader asked how I fell into it…and then proceeded to fall into it exactly the same way. That’s 2 points for the pit.
•Building a snowman and snow angel on our breaks to make the best of the snow situation
•Still getting a ton of work done despite being down a saw, and ending the week having transformed the site

Some important lessons to learn from this would be to always double check that you brought an extra chainsaw along, always bring a boot dryer on the off chance that you get taken down by a pit, and find ways to embrace bad weather conditions.

I’ll leave you with my favorite quote from the Montevideo locals:
“I ain’t smart, but that is dumb.”
(Assume a heavy southern accent of course)

We are Mankato Crew Two

By: Harley Lott

 (Pictured from left to right: Cory Halvorson, Jaci Ullrich, Krista Wermerskirchen, Harley Lott)

(Pictured from left to right: Cory Halvorson, Jaci Ullrich, Krista Wermerskirchen, Harley Lott)

A day out at barn bluff in Red Wing, Minnesota sums up a long week of skills training at White Water State Park. Where we as a crew gained the necessary skills and knowledge of how to run and maintain our chain saws, and most important importantly, properly cut trees down and safely cut and remove brush.

For the beginning part of the month of April, I would like to highlight what each and every one of these individuals bring to the group.

Mankato Crew 2_side.jpg

The first person would be our crew leader Krista Wermerskirchen.

First question, where are you from?

Shakopee, Minnesota.

Why did she join the Conservation Corps?

To gain work experience and be able to network with others in the field.

What do you plan on doing after the Corps?

Krista hopes to land a job that is within the environmental arena.


Second person would be crew member Jaci Ullrich.

Jaci’s home town is Clear Lake, Iowa.
Why did you join the Conservation Corps?

To gain work experience, network work with others in the field, and because she loves working in the outdoors.

What do you plan on doing after the Corps?

Jaci would like to get a job in natural resources or do ecology research.


Third person would be crew member Cory Halvorson.

Cory’s Home town is Elysian, Minnesota.

Why did you join the Conservation Corps?

To gain work experience, and network with other in the field.

What do you plan on doing after the corps?

Cory plans on to heading back to college to finish schooling.


 The last crew member Harley Lott.

Harley’s Home town is East Bethel, Minnesota.

Why did you join the Corps?

To better my knowledge in the natural resource field, sharpen my fire skills and chain saw skills, and to build a tighter network with people in the field.

What do you plan on doing after the Corps?

Getting a permanent federal or state job as a fire technician or wildland firefighter.