Dave Barak

Regional Network: 
National Fellows
Class Year: 
Program Development Coordinator
The Student Conservation Association
Chicago, IL

Hi All!

My name is Dave and I am an eager participant in ELP's National Fellowship.  I began my career in conservation after taking a series of cross-country road trips with my brother.  We visited dozens of National Parks and other public lands and I began to wonder why I was working out of a small, windowless office in Chicago.

It took a couple of years, but I ultimately secured my first internship with The Student Conservation Association (SCA) in 2011.  It was was at Crow's Neck Environmental Education Center in Tishamingo, MS.  (We were tucked up in the northeast corner, 5 miles from Alabama and 10 miles from Tennessee.)  After that, I spent the 2011-12 academic year working for Nature's Classroom in Massachusetts.


What followed was a series of adventures that brought me to my first gig at a National Park (Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC), a national political campaign (Ohio for Obama, 2012), a Wildlife Refuge (Santee National Wildlife Refuge - Summerton, SC), my first job as a Ranger (Timpanogos Cave National Monument - American Fork, UT), and Alaska (Sitka National Historical Park - Sitka, AK).  It was a whirlwind.

I started as the National Initiatives Coordinator at SCA in January of 2014.  Our National Initiatives aim to address the need for greater diversity in the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service.  These programs have been in existence in some form or another for a decade, and they have been quite successful.  I loved the work that I was doing, but after 2 years, I opted to take a new position back in my adopted hometown, Chicago.

My current position, in Program Development, aims to bring SCA programming to public spaces in the 16 states that comprise our Central Region.  I travel a lot and I meet a lot of people and I go to a lot of baseball games.

To be honest, I think a lot of people that I grew up with would find it strange that I wound up in this field.  I was not outdoorsy as a kid.  I grew up on Long Island and attended The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA where I majored in English and Education.  Not long after graduating, I started working for Royal Caribbean as a member of the youth staff on several ships, sailing to the Caribbean, Mexico, the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, the Panama Canal, Alaska, Hawaii- with a few Atlantic crossings in there as well.

In 2005, I moved to Chicago where I found work in event planning.  I worked in a small, windowless office.  And, well, you know the rest...