Zach has a background in leading conservation corps crews in Vermont and Colorado as well at home building crews in Tennessee. Zach believes that the corps model is one of the best ways to give young people the opportunity to grow their skills and personal connection to place. Originally from the Shenandoah Valley, he is proud to see his community supporting conservation service and education.
Michelle (she/her/hers) joined the ACC family in early 2018 with a background in archaeology and conservation corps programming. She was born and raised in Maryland, earning her degree in Sociology/Anthropology from St. Mary's College of Maryland. She then spent several years working in contract archaeology before serving in a 1700 hour AmeriCorps term with Coconino Rural Environment Corps where she work in and led conservation crews around Arizona. The Corps world was life-changing for Michelle—the community, the impact, the challenge. After several more years of field archaeology, she returned to Arizona Conservation Corps as Recruitment and Member Support Manager. In 2017, Michelle returned to the east coast for the humidity and to be closer to family. She loves unintentional puns, action movies, food, succulents, hiking, her husband Jon and her dog Lilah. She is passionate about the outdoors, community and the impact of Corps programs.
Robert worked in both State and Federal legislative bodies before beginning his work in conservation. He spent a season working on a backcountry chainsaw crew in Utah, and then came back East to lead crews for ACC. After leading three crews in projects that ranged from battlefield restoration, disaster response, trail building and maintenance, and boundary marking, he began his position as program staff. Robert has found his passion in conservation work, and hopes to use his background to shed light on the importance of National Service as it relates to young adults, their communities, and the public lands they serve in.
Eleanor has been with Appalachian Conservation Corps since 2017. She started as a crew member, then led 6 crews, including a disaster deployment, before transitioning to staff. Her degree is in Geology and Sculpture, but she grew up with crafty parents, and has been doing carpentry, metalwork, and yardwork from a young age. She has found her niche in the Corps world, with its variety of work, its funky people, and its diverse opportunities. Eleanor enjoys every opportunity to teach new skills to members and leaders; she especially likes being able to put her line cook experience to good use, making sure everyone is eating well in the field!
Mary Zook Tapolyai (she/her/hers) earned her degree in Adventure Sports Management from the Adventuresports Institute at Garrett College. She is a certified Wilderness First Responder, Maryland Top Rope Site Manager, mountain biking instructor, and Leave No Trace Master Educator. Additionally, she has worked at four youth camps, facilitating adventure activities and sleeping many consecutive nights in a canvas platform tent.
When she’s not working outside, playing outside, or writing about being outside, Mary can probably be found hiding in a coffee shop.