Where are they now: Tiffany (Forner) Schaufler, Project & Land Manager at Minnehaha Creek Watershed District

October 25, 2018

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When were you in the Corps? What positions did you hold?

2007 (Crew Member - Three Rivers Park District)

2008 (Crew Leader – Central Roving)

2010 (Central Regional Field Specialist)

Where did you work and what kind of work did you do?

My first year with the Corps I spent learning all things forestry as I was stationed out of the Three Rivers Park District’s Crow-Hassan Park Reserve nursery. My second and third years with the Corps were spent “roaming” across the metro working with a variety of agencies including the Belwin Conservancy, St. Paul Parks, DNR, U.S. Fish & Wildlife and several watershed districts.

Working alongside Three Rivers Park District forestry staff I quickly learned how to nurture trees from seedling to a full-grown tree. I pruned tree roots, planted trees, harvested trees, trimmed trees, and watered trees.

During my crew leader and field specialist years I spent a lot of my time implementing lakeshore restorations, installing raingardens, assisting with prescribed burns, removing hazard trees from regional trails, and countless hours trying to defeat buckthorn.

Were there any particularly memorable or challenging experiences?

Learning how to operate a chainsaw to fell trees was an empowering and enlightening experience. Each tree brought its own unique challenges which always kept things interesting. I also appreciated felling trees on subzero temperature days as it would keep me plenty warm. Operating a chainsaw is one of the things I really miss about being in the Corps.

I jumped on the opportunity to provide emergency response work to people in Missouri after they experienced a serious ice-storm. I left that experience learning a new appreciation for what “hard-work” meant and also left with a heart-full of gratitude from all the people we met and helped.

Challenging days were certainly experienced but I always found that my fellow crew members had creative ways to combat the monotony or to fight the heat or cold.

What was/has been the most personally meaningful part of the experience?

The people and relationships that I formed during my time with the Corps will always be an important part of my life. I have been to countless happy hours and enjoy reconnecting with past Corp members on a regular basis.

In my current position it is always rewarding to work and interact with a past Corps member who is working for another natural resource agency and to reflect on how far we have both come.

How did your experience shape your current career/life?

When I joined the Corps I had no idea how to identify plants, plant trees, restore/manage native landscapes, etc. I acquired those skills over my short time with the Corps and those skills have provided me with the foundation to be successful and continue to grow in my career. My time with the Corps helped to confirm that my passion was in natural resources and that was what I should pursue as a career. The Corps also helped create connections with so many different natural resource agencies and people which allowed me to confidently begin my network within the natural resource field.

What advice would you offer to a current AmeriCorps member serving in Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa?

Work hard, make an impression on your project hosts, network with your project hosts, network, network, network! Figure out the three things you are passionate about and then figure out which companies/organizations do that type of work. Then use your network of people. It’s crazy how small the natural resource field really is – someone you know probably knows a person at the organization you are interested in working at so take advantage of it!

Ultimately at the end of the day hard work and a passion for the environment can go a long way and working hard does eventually pay off!

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What is your current position and what kind of work do you do?

Since I left the Corps in 2010 I have worked at the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) and currently hold the Project & Land Manager position.

In this position I manage the Project Maintenance and Land Management department which oversees the long-term maintenance of over 70 capital projects and uses innovative approaches to manage over 700 acres of land owned by MCWD or held by conservation easement. I also plan new projects and manage project development through feasibility, design, land acquisition, construction and maintenance. I oversee the operation of the Gray's Bay Dam and manage and coordinate MCWD’s emergency response for flood events with local and state emergency responders.

My work is currently focused in Minneapolis where I am working with staff from the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and the City of Minneapolis to develop a master plan for the entire Minnehaha Creek corridor in Minneapolis.

I am also currently serving as a board member for the Women’s Environmental Network where we work to foster professional networks for women working to protect the environment.