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Meet the Fall-Winter Uplift Cohort of 2023

Updated: Feb 14


Group photo of the crew. Nial, Tyler, Josh, JP, Catharine, May, Ewurafua, and Matt L

WHAT IS UPLIFT?


UpLift is a comprehensive 6-month workforce development program, opening doors to the vast career opportunities within the green industry. Tailored for individuals of all ages, UpLift not only educates and trains but also provides clear pathways to permanent employment. 


Through engaging experiences, participants gain practical skills in sustainable landscaping and conservation while developing a deep commitment to environmental stewardship. Our Program goes beyond traditional education and job training, providing certifications, stormwater management, tree planting, and invasive species management while nurturing environmental stewards who are ready to make a lasting impact.


MEET THE CREW


Niall Donaldson

Niall Donaldson portrait
Niall Donaldson

Niall's journey with Howard EcoWorks began in 2023 with our Summer READY program as an Assistant Crew Lead, and is now a Crew Lead for Uplift this Fall. He found out about our programs while being encouraged by his family to pursue environmental work. His favorite aspects of the program include the opportunity to identify plants and the fulfilling responsibility of leading projects, while leveraging his strong leadership skills.


From Ellicott City, MD, Niall finds joy in drumming and playing music in his free time. His talents extend to the culinary arts, having worked as a chef in various brunch spots and restaurants.


Additionally Niall brings his enthusiasm to the Uplift program, eagerly anticipating the tree planting projects scheduled this year and next. Looking ahead, he envisions a future where he owns land, engaging in environmental agriculture on a farm that also features a music studio—a testament to his long-term goals that blend his love for the environment and music. 


Tyler Walker


Tyler Walker portrait
Tyler Walker

Tyler began as an Assistant Crew Lead, and now holds the position of Crew Lead within the Uplift program. Originally hailing from New Orleans, LA, Tyler brings a unique blend of interests to his life outside of work, including exercise, reading, hiking, and a love for music. Noteworthy among his talents are his traits of hard work and perseverance.


Before joining Howard EcoWorks, Tyler served as a substitute teacher. While seeking career opportunities in the green industry, he chose Uplift to gain insights and hands-on experience in the environmental field. His favorite part of the program lies in building connections and delving into the intricate details of the fieldwork involved in conservation projects.


Excitement for certifications and a glimpse into the more professional aspects of the green industry fuels Tyler's enthusiasm within the Uplift program. Looking ahead, he aspires to dive deep into the professional side of the green industry, aiming to leverage connections and insights gained during the program, including discussions with Howard EcoWorks' Program Manager, Campbell Shepard. Tyler's dedication and professional aspirations contribute significantly to the vibrant dynamic of the Fall/Winter Uplift cohort.


Catharine Love
Catherine Love Portrait
Catherine Love

Currently serving as an Assistant Crew Lead, Catharine embarked on her journey with Howard EcoWorks to advance her career and gain exposure to environmental management. Hailing from Maryland, Catharine is passionate about woodcarving, particularly using storm-fallen local wood, and engaging in native gardening to boost local ecosystem resilience.


Before joining the Uplift, Catharine worked in the Maryland Department of Agriculture, focusing on mosquito control, population surveillance, and disease testing. Choosing Uplift as the most accessible option to acquire field skills and environmental knowledge, Catharine values the leadership experience gained through the program, especially the unexpected opportunity to lead within a professional context.


She is excited about obtaining certifications and contributing to the resiliency of Howard County and surrounding communities. Her long-term goals include pursuing a career in environmental management where she can actively address climate change, biodiversity, and sustainability issues, aligning her professional aspirations with a broader environmental impact.



JP Osborne
JP Obsborne portrait
JP Obsborne

Currently serving as an Assistant Crew Leader, JP, hailing from Columbia, MD, brings a mix of passion and talent to the Uplift Workforce Development program. In their free time, JP is an avid hockey player, taking on the roles of both goalie and defenseman, and enjoys the thrill of snowboarding in the winter. Beyond sports, JP showcases their musical talent by skillfully playing the guitar, with Muse's "Hysteria" being a favorite song to perform.


Prior to EcoWorks, JP graduated in 2020 at UMBC with a Political Science Degree while navigating disruptions by Covid. This year they sought a meaningful entry into the environmental field and were drawn to Uplift based on the recommendations of another crew member from the Spring/ Summer Chort. Uplift also Peaked their particular interest in environmental advocacy and flood water management.


JP finds personal fulfillment in building projects, notably rain gardens, one of which happens to be in their community. JP is also aiming to make connections they missed during their college years by taking advantage of Networking opportunities. Post-program, JP aspires to delve into local environmental research, contributing to advocacy efforts and furthering their commitment to environmental causes.


Joshua Ward


Joshua Ward Portrait
Joshua Ward

Josh started as a crew member and is currently serving as a Crew Lead.  Originally from Lutherville, he enjoys tinkering projects, with a recent endeavor involving the restoration of an antique instrument. Adding a touch of whimsy to his talents, Josh can mimic bird calls with a unique whistle.


Before joining the Uplift Workforce Development program, Josh ran a nature summer camp, where he planned and worked with kids aged 4 to 12 as a part-time naturalist. Seeking hands-on experience in the environmental field, Josh chose Uplift to implement practical solutions and expand his knowledge.


He appreciates the flexibility in the program and feeling like an integral part of the team. And he looks forward to professional field trips and the opportunities to delve deeper into their work. While he is still deciding his long-term goals, there is heavy interest in teaching. His plan involves completing college and gaining diverse experiences across various fields and jobs, aligning with his curiosity and passion for continuous learning.


May Allbritton-King
May Allbritton-King Portrait
May Allbritton-King

May is a dedicated crew member originally from Baltimore County, and currently residing in Howard County. Before joining EcoWorks she was working on her undergraduate degree in applied physics.


In her leisure time, May indulges in tabletop RPGs (particularly D&D), trading card games, video games, and fantasy novels. Armed with problem-solving skills and a knack for mental math, May brings a unique set of talents to the team.


May's favorite part of the program is witnessing the outcomes of her efforts, meeting new people involved in environmentalism, and understanding how different systems connect to protect the environment. She is also interested in developing skills to apply for either civil or environmental engineering. May is driven by a passion for environmental protection and a commitment to making a positive impact on the world.



Ewurafua Asiedu
Ewurafua Asiedu Portrait
Ewurafua Asiedu

Hailing from Columbia, MD, Ewurafua is an enthusiastic crew member with a love for spending time outdoors, reading books, and hanging out with friends. They also showcase their talent for juggling, adding a unique and entertaining skill to the team.


Before joining the Uplift, Ewurafua spent over a year in outdoor work, recently working as a site lead for an ecological conservation company and as a farmhand. They also have a four-year career background in software engineering. Choosing Uplift to further implement their working knowledge and acquire certifications, Ewurafua brings expertise and valuable insight out in the field. 


Their favorite aspect of the program is learning from other team members, and trying new things EcoWorks has to offer. Ewurafua's long-term goals involve finding more opportunities that merge their programming skills with their passion and acumen for the outdoors and environmental stewardship.




Tyra Villadiego-Alvarez

Tyra, a crew member hailing from Silver Spring, MD, finds joy in activities such as reading, hiking, hanging out with friends, and watching movies. While not specifying a particular talent, Tyra brings a diverse set of interests to the team.


Before joining the Uplift Workforce Development program, Tyra worked as an acupuncturist, but the pandemic-induced changes led them to work as an assistant teacher. She chose Uplift because it looked fun, and her favorite part of the program is being out in nature and gaining insights into how plants collaborate in rain gardens.


Excited about spending more time in nature and deepening her knowledge of plants, Tyra's long-term goals involve finding ways to incorporate habitat restoration into her professional journey. With a desire to return to acupuncture, Tyra envisions a future where she can seamlessly blend her passion for nature and healing practices.



Mathew Langsdale
Mathew Langsdale Portrait
Mathew Langsdale

Matthew, a Columbia, MD native, is an enthusiastic crew member with a passion for playing musical instruments, particularly the keyboard and piano. With a degree in English Language and Literature from UMD in 2020, Matt explored various professional avenues, including roles as an operations associate at Guitar Center and freelance journalism work. His scouting experience kindled an interest in plants and invasives.


Before joining Uplift, Matt had a previous stint with the READY program in 2016. His favorite aspect of the program is the professional development, particularly the exposure to higher-level topics and certifications that open doors to various opportunities. Matt's excitement for the landscape design course reflects his eagerness to delve into environmental research.


For the future, Matt envisions three potential paths. His ideal route involves blending grant writing and his English literature background. Alternatively, landscape design intrigues him, and he hopes to continue training in that field. Ultimately, Matt aspires to become a permanent crew member, showcasing his commitment to environmental work and continual learning.


Going Forward


We’re looking forward to the amazing journey of our Fall/Winter Uplift Crew, and seeing what they accomplish this year and the beginning of 2024! The remainder of their time during the program will be packed with tree planting projects, replacing turf lawns with large conservation gardens, and an abundance of stream restoration work. We’re proud of this team for being eager to learn and their dedicated energy to environmental stewardship.


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