SNAP Alumni Highlight- Anya Obrez

Anya cuts down trees during a restoration project at Meek’s Bay

Describe your role at Tahoe Resource Conservation District:

My role had me support the Fire Adapted Communities Program by coordinating and creating content to better educate and inform communities on becoming more resilient to wildfires in the Lake Tahoe Basin. I worked on developing educational materials for the local community, supported the neighborhood leader program by shaping community leaders to take action through defensible programs and managed the Tahoe Living With Fire website and socials. I also worked closely with high-level members of the Tahoe Network that included the U.S Forest Service, Local Fire Districts and Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to establish new resources and fire restrictions to the Lake Tahoe community. This experience exposed me to nuanced communication strategies by working closely with Public Information Officers from varied institutions to help shape public awareness on defensible space initiatives, wildfire evacuations and fire restrictions to the public. 

What did you enjoy and find most beneficial about working at your host site and the AmeriCorps program? 

Pivoting my career to the environmental field this opportunity allowed me to gain foundational experience in conservation, environmental stewardship and restoration monitoring.  It was an extraordinary learning experience working directly with the Tahoe Conservation District on expanding many of their environmental and restoration programs. I enjoyed being exposed to the ‘fire world’ learning more about fuel reduction projects being completed throughout the Sierra Nevada region. I also gained a lot of insight from other SNAP members on their accomplished work within the region, thoroughly enjoying the monthly seminars and discussions led by innovators in the field of conservation within the Sierra Nevada. 

What impact did you make during your term? What are a couple of accomplishments that stand out to you? 

I had the opportunity to work on a Fire Adapted Community program during a heightened fire and drought season leading me to work on an array of projects that inevitably contributed to my time supporting the Incident Command team for the Caldor Fire. Alongside my colleague Amanda Milici, I was able to co-create and design a new educational brochure for long-term renters in the Basin. Working closely with our renter focus groups and Tahoe Network, the educational material we created has become the singular resource for renters in the area for wildfire preparedness. We hope this becomes a precedent for future educational materials on wildfires preparedness for marginalized communities in the region. 

How did the Caldor Fire directly affect your work?

The culmination of my position allowed me to work with the Tahoe Fire and Fuels team on public messaging during the Caldor Fire. This experience was truly a monumental point in my professional career and instilled an urgency in me to work on programs that support community resiliency and environmental justice in the era of climate change.

Where are you now? How did AmeriCorps help you get there? Are you still in the Sierra?

I am currently starting a new position with the National Resource Defense Council as a Program Assistant for the Food and Health Division in San Francisco. 

My time as an AmeriCorps and SNAP member was pivotal in my transition working within the environmental and conservation field. Being a SNAP member and having the exposure to environmental stewardship within the Sierra Nevada was critical in my further career progression. My experience this summer has given me a profound new look on how important the AmeriCorps program is for individuals interested in gaining nuanced experiences in conservation, stewardship and community resiliency programs within the country

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