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Jones County AmeriCorps 4-H Environmental Educator

posted on 10/31/22

          Ever wonder what an AmeriCorps Environmental Educator does?  Check out Hailey Hughes recent article on her 2022 AmeriCorps term served as the Jones County AmeriCorps Naturalist Intern.   Maybe you or someone you know will be interested in serving for the 2023 term.  Application period is now open.

           From spring to early fall, I was given the opportunity to work as an AmeriCorps naturalist helping Michele Olson, the current Jones County Naturalist, with providing environmental education to the community. Before I started working as a naturalist, last summer I worked as a seasonal worker at Central Park, where I got the chance to meet the hard working people of Jones County Conservation. I helped to take care of Central Park campground and worked on various environmental restoration projects around different properties of Jones county.  When I was still a seasonal worker, I helped the last AmeriCorps naturalist, Diana Reuber, with various projects of her own and I had the chance to learn more about her position and her work through the group of AmeriCorps.

            AmeriCorps is an organization committed to helping local communities around the country. Whether that be by providing aid after natural disasters, building homes for families in need, or providing environmental education. They provide financial support to their volunteers and you have the chance to earn an educational award at the end of the term which you can use for your own personal school loans or for a family member's student loans. AmeriCorps also provides training opportunities in areas such as child mental health, how to be inclusive with everyone in your community, and even how to properly construct a resume. All of this makes AmeriCorps an enriching experience that will definitely help you grow not only in your career but as a person.

            With the help of AmeriCorps I was able to give back to the community of Jones county through environmental educational programs. Throughout the spring and summer season I visited local schools to present various topics such as environmental stewardship, different types of animal groups, and monarch tagging. Schools came to Central Park as well to learn about our wetland habitats, the impact of prairies, and participate in various outdoor recreation. I also helped lead a group of young volunteers in our Youth Conservation Crew program where volunteers from the age of 12-19 could come to Central Park and learn about conservation and ecology. They helped with projects around the park such as invasive species removal, trail maintenance, and bat house monitoring.

            I found that during my term as an Intern Naturalist, I was given an experience that let me grow not only in my field of interest but as a person. I feel like I’ve reignited my passion to work with the public, sharing my interests of conservation and the outdoors, having the sense of community by working together to preserve nature as a place for all people and generations to enjoy. If you are interested in starting your own AmeriCorps journey please visit the following links to learn more,

What is AmeriCorps?    https://www.extension.iastate.edu/4h/americorps

Current AmeriCorps Positions and Job descriptions   https://serviceyear.org/iowaamericorps4-h/

If you are interested in the AmeriCorps position at Central Park, you can apply and find a description of the jo at the following websites,

Jones County Conservation:     https://www.jonescountyiowa.gov/conservation/

Service Year: https://serviceyear.org/iowaamericorps4-h/environmental-educator-half-time/b6P06Z/

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