by Ayelen Lucia “Lucy” Crespo

Brushing Up on Our Skills: Wilderness Skills Institute (WSI)

For two weeks, our crew had the pleasure of taking classes at Wilderness Skills Institute, a training partnership between the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the United States Forest Service and Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards. First, we took a Wilderness First Aid class that certified us to do CPR and, if needed, to deal with certain medical situations that we may come across when in the backcountry. This included topics like how to approach a potential patient, how to check or analyze the patient to see what they may have hurt or broken, how to wrap the patient depending on what they hurt, and even how to put dislocated body parts back into place! I believe the instructors for this class prepared me very well for what I may come across working on a crew or even on my own time, because we never really know what could happen on an otherwise normal hike.

After earning our Wilderness First Aid certifications, we continued onto the next class, in which we were certified to use crosscut saws and axes. This class was really fun, especially since we were mostly in the field and did a lot of hands-on learning. Our instructors for this course were very careful to show us how serious it really is to watch for your surroundings, but made the course fun at the same time. These skills helped so much in the next class we took, because we used similar tools.

In our second week at WSI, we took a Trail Maintenance class. In this course, we learned techniques to build different structures on the trails to keep them from eroding away and to make them easier for hikers to enjoy. The axe skills we had learned the previous week came in handy when we used the Pulaski, a similar tool that combines an axe and an adze. We also learned how to care for the tools. We cleaned them off, sharpened them (and learned about single or double beveled tools), and then oiled them after use. Wilderness Skills Institute was one of the best parts of Conservation Leadership Corps, not only because it was fun, but because it prepared us for almost every other project that came our way.

Left to right: Lucy Crespo, Niasha Hamilton, Adriana Rodas

This post comes to us from Ayelen Lucia “Lucy” Crespo, a member of ATC’s inaugural Conservation Leadership Corps (CLC). The CLC provides valuable training and work experience to 18- to 25-year-olds who are new to the outdoors by offering professional development in the fields of natural resource and trail management. These young and diverse conservation leaders had never stepped foot on the A.T. before joining us this summer!

Ayelen Lucia “Lucy” Crespo
Conservation Leadership Corps 2016
Hails from: Elizabeth, NJ
Studies at: Union County College
Intended major: Wildlife Conservation/Wildlife Biology
Dream job: Working at a Wildlife Rehabilitation Center nursing wild animals.
Favorite CLC moment: Studying the salamanders and the snails at Purchase Knob in Great Smoky Mountains National Park with MYLES of Science