Allie Clay, Childhood Creativity Champion – Mancos, CO
Mancos Valley Dragonfly Preschool
More About Allie: My name is Allie Clay, and I am the Childhood Creativity Champion at Mancos Valley Dragonfly Preschool. My background in biology and environmental education and a childhood love for garter snakes and Aspen trees drew me to Southwest Colorado for the first time this summer. When I caught wind that I could support a nature-based, Waldorf inspired preschool and the community it serves, I quickly turned around and moved out of my hometown, Seattle, to follow a new adventure with some amazing kids and people. My role at Dragonfly Preschool is to help develop the outdoor play space and garden and coordinate volunteer efforts around the school. I am very excited to be a part of this community, create opportunities for children’s connection to nature, and get out and explore these beautiful mountains. Apart from my AmeriCorps role, I love to hike, dance, sing, and talk philosophy with kids.
Autumn Seeber, Youth Leadership Champion – Cortez, CO
School Community Youth Collaborative
More About Autumn: I’m originally from Denver, CO but went to high school in Dolores and graduated in 2016. I’m the Youth Leadership Champion for the School Community Youth Collaborative (SCYC) and loves getting to work with youth! I love horses and dogs, and enjoy being outdoors in Colorado’s natural playground. I hope to go back to school and get a degree in history to become a teacher and am excited to be serving Southwest Colorado this year!
Drew LaPlaca, Youth Empowerment Champion – Cortez, CO
More About Drew: I’m from Storrs, CT and I am the Youth Empowerment Champion – Boys to Men. I serve at the Pinon Project, a family resource center in Cortez. I’m a part of the before and after school programs for middle schoolers and high schoolers (where kids play sports, video games, card games, board games, go on hikes, watch movies, etc.), Coordinated Approach to Childhood Health (which promotes healthy activities and food for elementary schoolers) , Boys to Men (a mentoring circle for boys age 13-17 that also goes on adventure weekends) Youth Advisory Council (which gives children opportunities to volunteer in their community), and Sources of Strength (a protective factors framework for youths and suicide prevention program). I chose to serve because I enjoy seeing children from disadvantaged backgrounds fulfill their potential. In my free time, I like to read, hike, and watch movies. My favorite book is God’s Debris, my favorite place to hike is Mesa Verde, and my favorite movie is The Godfather.”
Jamie Jones, Early Learning Champion – Cortez, CO
San Juan BOCES & Beech Street Preschool
More About Jamie: Hello, I’m Jamie. I am from Dolores, Colorado. I’m serving at San Juan BOCES and Beech Street preschool as the Early Learning Champion. I am a full-time college student pursuing a degree in Early Childhood Education, and I am excited to incorporate my service into my education and vice versa. I am very excited to bring new forms of literacy education for young children to our county. Reading and writing is a struggle that is often seen in Elementary schools; I am hoping that by introducing an early literacy program, we’ll be able to help eliminate that gap.
Leah Smith, Food Security Champion – Cortez, CO
Good Food Collective & Good Samaritan Center Food Pantry
More About Leah: I joined TeamUp AmeriCorp as the Montezuma-based Food Security Champion in September of 2019. I recently moved to Colorado after graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill, where my studies focused on environmental sustainability, education and nutrition. I’m excited to continue to learn about sustainable food systems and share my passion for connecting communities through healthy food and cooking practices. I’m excited about checking out the changing Aspens in the coming weeks while I zip around on my mountain bike or head off on a weekend getaway.
Lexi Bernstein, Food Security Champion – Pagosa Springs, CO
Pagosa Peak Open School
More About Lexi: Hi! I am Lexi Bernstein(she/her) and I graduated with a B.A. from College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University in Minnesota in 2017 and received my M.F.A in Arts & Humanities at the University of Dundee in Scotland in 2019. I am excited to join PPOS as the Food Security Champion through TeamUP AmeriCorps where I will be working with students in the lunchroom, the classroom and, most importantly, the garden! I became interested in food security after realizing how young people’s relationship with fresh food is becoming replaced by processed food. When I am not dreaming about the perfect urban farm/art experience, you can find me rock climbing, playing with my cats, or listening to podcasts.
Míceal Munroe-Allsup, Youth Empowerment Champion – Cortez, CO
More About Míceal: My name is Miceal, and I’m from Cortez, Colorado. I just finished undergraduate school in Portland, Oregon, with a degree in Art History. I’m back in Cortez because I missed the southwest, and I’m really excited to be working with the Youth Empowerment Program. Working with kids and youth has always been an interest of mine, and youth empowerment is one of the most important things supportive adults can be doing. I’m involved in before and after school activities, Sources of Strength (a resilience-building program), and the Youth Advisory Council, which supports youth-led activities and events. I love to hike, read, make art, and hang out with kids!
Sam Lewarchick, Youth Development Champion – Durango, CO
Boys and Girls Club of La Plata County
More About Sam: My name is Sam Lewarchick. I am 24 years old and a recent graduate from Northern Arizona University. I am from Cleveland, Ohio but have been living out west for the past few years. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration. I am serving through AmeriCorps at the Boys and Girls Club of La Plata County in Durango, Colorado. I chose this opportunity because I recently found a passion for working with youth. I hope to one day become a school counselor. Helping kids reach their full potential is incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. In my free time I enjoy spending time with my dog, Zeppelin. We often go hiking and running, but disc golfing is our favorite. She and I already love living in Durango and will make the most of our time here.
Emily Spahn, Prevention Educator – Cortez, CO
Child Maltreatment Prevention Action Team
More About Emily: I am so excited to be working with the Child Maltreatment Prevention Action Team as a Prevention Educator. This role involves collaboration with a number of organizations working on child abuse prevention, but I will be based primarily at the Four Corners Child Advocacy Center in Cortez, CO. I grew up mostly in Maryland, but moved to Malawi, a small country in Sub-Saharan Africa, when I was in high-school. Since then, I have been living in Denver, but I am ready to get out of the city! I recently graduated from the University of Denver with a MA in International Studies and specializations in Strategic Communication for Global Health and International Political Economy. In my undergrad, I focused on marketing and psychology and have been lucky enough to work both domestically and internationally on a range of social issues. In my free time, I am a huge advocate of getting outside, especially when it involves climbing. I also love running, yoga, and getting some turns in on my skis (or snowboard) in the backcountry!