Alumni SNAPshot: Nicole Lutkemuller

Nicole Lutkemuller served with Alpine Watershed Group 14-15 and is now our Sierra Corps Director here at the Alliance.

A story about your most memorable day, favorite project or person during your SNAP service.

“One of my favorite projects during my SNAP service was organizing a “Rivers and Ranches” Environmental Education Field Trip Day for Diamond Valley School at the Ace Hereford Ranch in Woodfords.  The owners of the Ranch had been working to improve their grazing techniques and water use practices, as well as restore the riparian zone of the Carson River that ran through their property to reduce water quality impacts.  They opened up the ranch to the students of the school and I organized a full day field trip on the Ranch to teach kids about the intersection between watershed health and working lands. The kids participated in multiple education activities and games with community volunteers, took a tour of the ranch, and got to pet the horses that lived there.  Despite their school being just a few miles from the Ranch, many of the kids had never experienced petting a horse or walking around on a working ranch.

The other most memorable part of my SNAP service was my supervisor Sarah Green, the former Executive Director of the Alpine Watershed Group.  She taught me so much about environmental non profit work, education, restoration, and everything in between and became a dear friend and mentor in my life.  She was and still is my favorite boss/supervisor I’ve had in my life and I’m grateful for the relationship I built with her during my service.”

Any skills or life-hacks you took away from SNAP that you still use today?

“Confidence in my work.  SNAP provided me with more responsibility and opportunity to go above and beyond what was expected and that taught me to be confident in my skills and ability and to reach for the stars in my work efforts.”

How has serving with SNAP shaped your volunteer efforts today?

“During and after SNAP I started volunteering alot more with non profit and political efforts because I learned how valuable volunteer time is to those types of work.”

What are you up to now? 

“I work for the Sierra Nevada Alliance as the Sierra Corps Forestry Fellowship Program Director.  Sierra Corps is a new program the Alliance started this Fall that is similar to SNAP as a workforce development program, but not AmeriCorps affiliated.  I just hired the first round of 6 Fellows that will be working at Host Sites throughout the Sierra on forest health management, restoration, planning, and prioritization projects.”

Do you have any advice for current members?

“If you can’t find the right paid job at any point in your life, keep volunteering! Volunteer work can be listed on your resume and contributes to your skills and experience.  Fill those employment gaps with volunteer work and take on more responsibility when you volunteer. Employers appreciate your drive and dedication to the field when you volunteer.  I had a 1.5 year gap in “professional” environmental jobs where I was serving in restaurants to pay the bills but because of continuous volunteer work my resume didn’t have any gaps in professional experience and I continued to develop my skills and responsibility level.”


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