Alumni Spotlight: Susan Pienta

Right now in Queensbury, New York, a group of students is studying the impermeable surfaces, water sheds, erosion, and storm water features of their campus. Soon they will be preparing presentations for the local soil and water conservation district, creating proposals for how to manage erosion and storm water issues on the grounds. Leading these students is their Earth and Environmental Sciences Teacher Susan Pienta. Susan has a Master’s Degree in education and is an AmeriCorps alumna who has served with the California Conservation Corps and Maine Conservation Corps.

Susan served with the California Conservation Corps as a part of the Watershed Stewards Program. After she heard about the Maine Program, she travelled here to serve with the Portland DEP office. Serving here brought her closer to family and allowed her to continue working on watershed issues.

Susan Pienta2.pngHer mentor was Wendy Garland of the Maine DEP. Under Wendy’s tutelage, Susan helped to remove invasive plants and map the urban Trout Brook watershed. “We fought off multiflora rose and phragmites while overheating in neoprene waders with boots 3 sizes too big. It sounds miserable, but spending the summer outside, getting to intimately know a small urban watershed, and regularly laughing at our misfortunes made for a good time. “

Susan loved the service she was doing but decided that she missed working with children and went back to school for her Master’s in Education. Her time with AmeriCorps has helped to shape her career. “What I have learned as an AmeriCorps will make me a better teacher. I believe my experiences helped me earn a fellowship with the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping new science and math teachers across the U.S.”

For current and future Maine Conservation Corps and AmeriCorps members she offers this advice: Take advantage of the opportunities for adventure and friendships with the wonderful people that surround you. “I was part of trip organized by fellow MCC environmental educators to Katahdin. It was definitely one of my favorite weekends in Maine with a group of awesome people. I also got to know people at my placement site and made some great friendships AND found someone to bike with on lunch breaks. Maine is a beautiful state filled with beautiful people. Get to know the state and the people! Eat lots of gelato! Trek across Maine! ”


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