The Huron Pines AmeriCorps program has been developing leaders in conservation since 2007. We’ve come a long way over the last decade, from 9 Huron Pines AmeriCorps members in our first year to 30 members at host sites across the state in 2017, and our efforts and growth have not gone unnoticed. In 2015, we were honored to receive the Governor’s Service Award for Outstanding National Service Program. This is an award we share with all of the members, organizations and funders who have partnered with us to make this program a success.
The Huron Pines AmeriCorps program matches applicants from across the country with nonprofits, agencies and organizations throughout Michigan to complete a 10-month term of service related to the field of conservation. Through their service, Huron Pines AmeriCorps members strive to enhance Michigan’s natural resources and foster environmental stewardship by engaging local volunteers, community groups and schools in service projects, hands-on learning opportunities and educational workshops.
Building Connections and Developing Skills
Our program provides recent college graduates and those new to the field of conservation the opportunity to build skills with hands-on training and experience.
During Daniel Moffatt’s 2012 term of service with the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative he worked alongside other environmental leaders toward a cause he believed in. As Moffatt put it, “AmeriCorps gave me the opportunity to coordinate a fantastic group of professional teachers, educators and scientists for the purpose of empowering young people as environmental leaders and social entrepreneurs.”
Empowering Future Conservation Leaders
In addition to working alongside seasoned professionals, AmeriCorps members are given the opportunity develop new programming at the sites where they serve.
This year, Samantha Griffin, a Huron Pines AmeriCorps member in her second year of service with Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, had the experience of launching a program from the ground up that uses goats as agents of invasive species removal. “I helped train the goats. I took them out to their first site. I check on them every single day and the work they are doing is phenomenal, “Griffin said. Initiating new programs like this one leave a lasting impact on the organizations where Huron Pines AmeriCorps members serve.
Creating Communities Committed to Nature
Huron Pines AmeriCorps members also increase the capacity of the organizations where they serve. This means more community outreach, more projects completed and more impact for the overall organization. Scott Whitcomb, an AmeriCorps site supervisor with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources at Pigeon River Country State Forest knows first-hand just how valuable AmeriCorps members can be in supporting partner organizations and agencies.
“Having an AmeriCorps member has made a tremendous and meaningful contribution to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources by expanding our capacity to complete on-the-ground conservation initiatives,” Whitcomb said. “As a state agency responsible for environmental stewardship on millions of acres of state lands there are more projects to complete than we have the ability to handle with the limited resources at our disposal. AmeriCorps lets us take on some of those projects that simply would not get done otherwise.”
Getting things done is, of course, what Huron Pines AmeriCorps members are known for—taking leadership and initiative to perform vital service work for the natural environment in Northeast Michigan and around the Great Lakes.
We could not be more proud of what our members, past and present, have accomplished through their service, and each milestone reached offers a new perspective on where the program is headed, and the new goals we can achieve together.