The Plumas Conservation, Restoration, and Education in Watersheds program (P-CREW) was established with funding from Fire Settlement dollars on the Plumas National Forest from lawsuits won by the US Forest Service. Fire settlement funds are used for costs associated with fighting the fires and projects such as P-CREW that work to restore the fire areas in the years after and educate the public.
Earl Ford, the then supervisor of the Plumas National Forest, envisioned a youth program that engaged students from both the top of the Feather River Watershed in rural Plumas county with downstream student users from the East Bay area of San Francisco. Students would work to restore fire scarred landscapes and learn the importance of mitigating catastrophic wildfires. He approached Sierra Institute and we happily agreed to partner on this project.
After a year of planning, P-CREW launched its first summer of 2 crews in 2015. For the first two summers all projects were done with Plumas National Forest in the wildfire foot prints. Projects ranged from invasive species removal, to building burn piles by hand, to removing deer guzzlers that were destroyed in the fire and installing new ones.
As the demand for conservation crews grew and the word of P-CREW’s success spread, we were able to double the amount of youth participants (now 44) and projects accomplished in 2018 by adding two more summer crews for a total of four each summer.
In 2020 P-CREW will field four youth crews mainly working with Lassen National Forest maintaining and clearing the trails in the Caribou Wilderness. Other 2020 project partners include Plumas National Forest and The Feather River Land Trust.
Ashley manages Plumas Conservation, Restoration, and Education in Watersheds (P-CREW), bringing rural and urban youth together to perform landscape restoration projects in the northern Sierra. She has a B.S. in Agronomy (Soil Science and Environmental Quality) and a minor in Geology from Iowa State University. She came to California in 2011 to join a conservation corps and immediately fell in love with the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the corps life. She’s thrilled to be in a position that helps youth from a variety of backgrounds have a positive experience living and working in the mountains while connecting with nature. Ashley is also an Indian Valley Recreation and Parks District Board member and helps coach the local 5th/6th grade soccer team.
For the past 30 years, Amy has led outdoor education and leadership training trips throughout the U.S., including the Rocky Mountains, Sierra Nevada, Southwest, Pacific Northwest, and Alaska. She serves as the Crew Member Experience Specialist and Alumni Communications Coordinator for P-CREW. In addition to the diverse experience in outdoor leadership programming Amy brings to our youth programs, she has also served as the financial manager for the organization since 1998. In her spare time, you can find Amy hiking with her dogs, working diligently in her garden, and serving as the community mom to the youth of Indian Valley.
Amy joined the Sierra Institute in 2019 as the P-CREW Assistant Coordinator, helping participants gain hands-on experience performing a variety of natural resource conservation projects. Amy received a B.A. in Spanish and a B.S. in Environmental Studies and Sustainability from Northern Michigan University. Prior to working with youth, Amy has experience working with various organizations performing trail work, data collection, and habitat restoration in the Northern Rockies as well as Northern Michigan. In her free time Amy enjoys hiking, painting, and exploring the northern Sierra Nevada.
Abby Puckhaber grew up in the frozen tundra of Green Bay, WI playing sports and frolicking around the woods. Her passion for nature influenced her college major and in 2013, she graduated from the University of Wisconsin- Green Bay with a Bachelor’s in Environmental Science. Upon graduation, Abby began her gardening journey as a Community Garden Coordinator. After a year of AmeriCorps, Abby travelled throughout Europe, visiting old college friends and moved to Flagstaff, AZ to work in a Conservation Corps. Abby flew to Hawaii and became a program guide in a Horticultural Therapy program teaching young adults helpful techniques for personal growth focusing on the five pillars of wellness and growing food. The adventurous spirit within Abby catapulted her to Thailand where she taught English, then backpacked through Laos and Myanmar, learning and practicing meditation along the way. She spent a year each in New Zealand and Australia, growing food in intentional communities and ecovillages, attending festivals and gatherings, living in a tent, and hiking often. After a quick stint of taro farming and beach combing in Hawaii, Abby returned to her roots in Green Bay, visiting family and pursuing nonprofit work. This summer she is beyond stoked to be totally immersed in the wilderness and share her joy of nature with the P-CREW members!
Alana is a returning crew leader this summer. She has been a part of P-CREW as a crew leader, AAA, and crew member during the last 3 summers. Each year of P-CREW has created many memories, moments of growth, and long-lasting friendships which is why she continues to come back to this program. Alana is currently studying Environmental Studies and Biology at Macalester College in Minnesota. P-CREW helped to guide Alana towards these educational studies and passions. She has spent her entire life camping, hiking, and backpacking. Originally from Oakland California, she is excited to spend the summer in her favorite area of California. Alana enjoys playing ultimate frisbee, taking photographs, and spending time outdoors.
Kevin’s passion for the outdoors and experiential education led him to a crew leader position with P-CREW in the summer of 2019 and the experience left such a grand impression that he has returned for our 2020 season. He graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2016 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. Kevin has continued to further his education by building his skills in the outdoors and earning his Wilderness-EMT license in the Fall of 2018. Since then he has pursued opportunities working with youth as an English Teacher abroad in Peru as well as an outdoor guide in the summer and substitute teacher in the off-season. Kevin enjoys spending his free-time outside cycling, climbing and camping as well as traveling and volunteering.
Elliott Bills is a crew leader with Plumas Conservation, Restoration, and Education in Watersheds (P-CREW) returning for his second season with Sierra Institute, leading youth crews in summer projects protecting and maintaining the accessibility of the gorgeous northern Sierras. He is currently pursuing a degree in forestry with a concentration in conservation at Humboldt State University. He found his passion for natural land conservation volunteering with conservation crews in Utah and Vermont. Elliott is excited to continue to work with youth, fostering a lasting connection to natural lands that comes with living and working on them.
Megan is coming back for her second year with P-CREW as an Alumni All-Star Assistant this year. Megan grew up hiking and camping and has always enjoyed spending time outdoors. Megan was born and raised in Lassen County. P-CREW helped her to realize what she wanted to study after high school and is now studying Environmental Studies at Feather River College. Megan loves to read and spend her time exploring the woods near her home.
Kylie grew up exploring Northern California and currently attends Lassen Community College. Her career goals include transferring to a university, obtaining a botany degree to help restore ecosystems negatively impacted by humans, and of course traveling. Kylie’s P-CREW adventure started as a member during the summer of 2018. The program taught her so many things about herself and about nature. Kylie returned as a AAA the very next summer. Again, she learned so many things and credits P-CREW for forming her into the person she is today. Kylie can not wait to get back in touch with nature and have a super fun summer with her crew!