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Blugold tackles environmental issues with AmeriCorps

| Lucy Grogan-Ripp

Josie Myers stumbled upon her service-learning project by accident. With her freshman year at UWEC under her belt and a dedication to her major in Geography, Josie set out to find a summer job that fit her field of study. Upon learning that AmeriCorps in Minnesota was hiring with opportunities for national service work, she knew this was the job for her.

“I found AmeriCorps when looking for summer opportunities and was excited about doing national service work in Minnesota after doing a similar thing in Maine last year” Josie explained.

However, it wasn’t until halfway through the summer that she realized she could use this opportunity to fulfill her service-learning requirement. Josie describes this realization, “Much of our training and time during the summer was focused on how our work affected the community we were serving, as well as what we could take away from these experiences.” In a sense, Josie was able to design her own unique service-learning project.

For Josie, her three month experience with the Conservation Corps of Minnesota was more than just a summer job or graduation requirement. She was able to make a real life impact on the Minnesota community, while also making important connections with people in her desired career field. “I had the opportunity to learn about the need for the work we were doing through project hosts and corps staff, who explained that public lands are vital to the communities that we were serving, as well as the environmental impacts our work would have on wildlife and native species.” Josie explained, “I learned about the impact that invasive species have on native plants and animals in these environments, and what we could do to help restore the areas to their natural state.”

Not only was Josie able to craft wholesome friendships and establish professional networks, but she ended her summer as a stronger individual than when she began, “I learned so much about the places that we worked in; I know 100% more about the prairies and wetlands of Minnesota than I did before. I also learned so much about communication. My confidence also has increased since working with project hosts and staff members.”

Josie will never forget her summer with the Conservation Corps of Minnesota or the way it shaped her into who she is today. It was the perfect, opportune collision of her passion for geography and a community’s need for wildlife preservation.