Conservation Crew Supervisors: Guiding Corpsmembers on their Path

Aaron Sims is the newest Conservation Crew Supervisor to join Civicorps. With no previous experience in conservation, Aaron only had an interest in being in the outdoors as his motivation.

As part of the interview process, candidates shadow a conservation crew at a work site for the whole day. It was during this ride-along that convinced Aaron to join Civicorps, the “vibe” he felt in getting to know the people and the work environment.

The first few months found Aaron shadowing most of the supervisors.

“Every day, they sent me somewhere new. I’ve been to every single project so far – I’ve been all over the place,” recounts Aaron.

Luckily, Aaron has a built-in community from which to get guidance.

Fellow supervisor and longtime veteran, Ryan Waters has been very helpful: “[Ryan] will pull me to the side and explain how you do this, how you do that – a lot of supervisors do that – they’ll pin point things for me. Every time I ask questions, there’s no judgment. They’ve been helpful and help me a lot.”

A Conservation Crew Supervisor directs a handful of young adults in their land management work at project sites throughout the East Bay. They not only juggle the multiple personalities of different Corpsmembers on their crew (while providing teaching opportunities to Corpsmembers at the same time), but supervisors also manage the completion of a project and the expectations of sponsor agencies.

“[Aaron has] a great disposition, very mellow, with feathers that don’t ruffle easily. He’s doing a great job on one of the hardest projects, Alameda County Flood Control, because they work around homeowners and the public, and he’s gotten no complaints from sponsors,” expresses Steven Addison, Conservation Program Manager.

Civicorps’ Support Services includes Counselors on-site at the corps to act as resources for Corpsmembers, should they need guidance. But often times, given that they spend most of their time on the field with Corpsmembers, Supervisors can be a de facto ear to hear Corpsmembers out.

“It does help being closer to [their] age [since] they can relate to me more, talk to me about their situations, and I can talk about my situation and try to give advice. I feel that helps a lot. I tell them I’m your supervisor, but I’m here to work alongside you.”

Now, after weeks of training and certifications, Aaron runs a limited crew. He’s still partnered with different supervisors, but he has his own group of Corpsmembers where he can develop his own leadership style.

“He’s a fast learner and Corpsmembers seem to like him. When they work with him they feel like they’re part of a family,” says supervisor Marisela Saeturn.

Civicorps helps young adults embark on their own personal journey to find sustaining careers. From college and career counseling to paid job training, the many resources Civicorps offers help to support Corpsmembers and their goals. Supervisors such as Aaron, are an added factor in helping to build Corpsmembers up.

When asked how he views his new role at the corps, Aaron simply answered: “I want to help them achieve their goals, whatever they want to accomplish.”

For Aaron, who will now be helping to shape these young people’s paths, his journey too is just beginning.

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