Jessica Carranza Pino|El Defensor Chieftain
Four adult crews joined forces to work on the trails in Magdalena Mackenzie Wieder, Mickayla Hodgman, Kate Sorrell, Jovan Carrejo, John Hund, Jacob McDaniel, Mark Lucero, Jesus Rios, Daven Pacheco, Lex DiPalma, Erin Morel, Elena Sandoval, Lou Ervin, Archie Garrett, Beth Powers, Stacy Vargas, Katerine Currey and Jason Perez.

It was a full circle feeling for the four adult conservation crews of the Rock Mountain Youth corps who wrapped up their season in Magdalena. According to Mickayla Hodgman, conservation program coordinator, the crews worked four and a half days on the Landavaso trail.

“Since we do training there (in Magdalena) in the beginning of the season it felt really neat for them to come back,” Hodgman said “I think folks were feeling maybe a little bit nostalgic or a little bit sad with the season over, but to see them from the first time went out there in February; they were unsure, they didn’t know how to swing a tool and were just sort of learning about it each other and then now, to see them at the end of the season, the people I was teaching are now the teachers.”

Nixo Lanning, conservation program coordinator of the American Sign Language crew said that it was hard work but that all the crews worked

Jessica Carranza Pino|El Defensor Chieftain
Mackenzie Wieder, on left, and Erin Morel work the Landavaso trail on Wednesday.

well together and having a ASL interpreter on site helped her crew communicate with the other crews.

“They got together for the first time and worked together to wrap up the season with pride and unity,” said Lanning.

Lanning said that ASL crews in New Mexico have been around since 2015.

“We are creating opportunities for the Deaf community to have job experience, develop their soft and hard skills, and educating and building the

bridge between the community about federal agencies opportunities that they can work with.” Lanning said.

Hodgman said that they’ve had a good working relationship with Mike Comiskey the outdoor recreation planner of Socorro BLM and were happy to do this project in Magdalena.

“We’re teaching them the hard skills, how to build trails, how to use chainsaws and how use cross cut saws and all of those technical skills are really important. So much of what we are also

trying to instill is being a member of the community and that’s why working with Socorro BLM is so cool because Mike is so good about designing trails and getting funding for trails that are tied into the community.” Hodgman said.

According to their website, youth corps members work in small crews to complete a variety of community development and public service projects while also being paid a living stipend during their service. When they graduate from the program they earn an education scholarship. Their programs include conservation, canine leadership and substance abuse prevention and serve ages 11 and up, including adult programs. To find out more please visit

Jessica Carranza Pino, Editor