Q&A with Huron Pines AmeriCorps Member Joe Dewan

Joe Dewan

This is the second in a series of conversations with our 2020 Huron Pines AmeriCorps members. We talk highlights, takeaways, and what their average days have been like in a not-so-average service year.

We’ll open our discussion with a foreword from Jen Davis, who volunteered at a Michigan United Conservation Clubs’ (MUCC) On the Ground event Dewan led this summer in Petersburg, Mich.:

I am keen to give my time and energy to projects that help improve wildlife habitat for any and all native wildlife and MUCC has a track record of providing great opportunities to do this. We accomplished our goal of planting 250 fireweed plants which are an important plant species for several pollinators.

Joe was exceptionally friendly, helpful and respectful of our need to maintain social distance. We had a great conversation about trash pick-up, both as a personal activity that we both enjoy and as an organized event. He gave me a few pointers about setting up such an event for a group I recently started working with.

Joe is stupendous! He has seemingly boundless energy and a positive outlook, both of which are infectious.

Jen Davis, MUCC On the Ground volunteer, Ann Arbor

Q&A with Huron Pines AmeriCorps Member Joe Dewan

Position: Engagement Specialist for Michigan United Conservation Clubs, Lansing
Hometown: East Lansing
Education: Bachelor of Science in environmental studies and sustainability, Michigan State University
Interests: Reading and trail running

What drew you to Huron Pines AmeriCorps?

I was interested in getting out into the field. Serving with Huron Pines AmeriCorps seemed like a wonderful opportunity to serve and do hands-on conservation work.

Fellow Huron Pines AmeriCorps members (l-r) Molly Fava, Nick Theisen, Celeste LaFleur and Bradley Briggs helped Joe Dewan (r) plant trees at MUCC’s final On the Ground event in Kalkaska this season. Courtesy photo.

What experiences from your service do you think will serve you best on your career path?

Some of my favorite experiences that I think will serve me well in the future have been planning field events for volunteers. The days that I spent out in the field with volunteers were educational and some of the best of the entire service term.

In what ways did your work change after COVID hit? What was the biggest challenge you faced and what did you do to deal with it?

The biggest challenge was that our entire spring field season was cancelled. Prior to COVID we had events scheduled every weekend in March, April, May and June. Once COVID hit I had to get creative to get out in the field so I found other ways to serve my host site, one of which was going once a week to pick up trash at state game areas and other public land sites.

Joe Dewan (r) bags up trash at Dansville State Game Area with MUCC colleague Shaun McKeon (l). Courtesy photo.

What was your best day?

Back in February, our On the Ground program hosted an event at the Shiawassee River State Game Area. We divided into two groups to install new wood duck boxes and to check existing boxes in the state game area. We had volunteers who were avid duck hunters as well as volunteers who were big-time birders. It was a really fun day and it was great to see members from different communities come together to build waterfowl habitat.

What were your most rewarding on-the-ground projects?

I helped plan our On the Water program’s Red Cedar River Cleanup on Aug 29.

I have a particular affinity for the Red Cedar as I grew up in East Lansing, attended Michigan State University and spent many formative years exploring the river. We partnered with the Ingham Conservation District and Friends of the Red Cedar group, and kayaks were donated by River Town Adventures. We also had volunteers come out from the local Trout Unlimited chapter as well as the Middle Grand River Organization of Watersheds.

We removed 225 pounds of trash from the river but what I am excited about is that we were able to engage so many groups that have an interest in the well-being of the river.

Huron Pines AmeriCorps is a program of Huron Pines and is supported in part by the Corporation for National and Community Service, Michigan Community Service Commission, Huron Pines and contributions from host sites.

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