EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS REPORT: AMERICORPS SUPERHEREOS
By Kasey Hovik
Fall is always an exciting time for Umpqua Watersheds and me personally because it starts another term for our AmeriCorps program. We are very proud of all the AmeriCorps who have served with us over the last 12 years. Each year our AmeriCorps members continue our environmental education programs which provide so many opportunities for young people, as well as adults, in our community to learn about our precious natural environment. It is always amazing to see how each of our AmeriCorps superheroes adds a novel program or project that helps us to expand our program. We are also very proud that our past three AmeriCorps members, Robyn Bath-Rosenfeld, Ryan Kincaid, and Viviana Young, continue to work with Umpqua Watersheds after their service. Robyn teaches 7th-grade science at Fremont Middle School and worked closely with both Ryan and Viviana to provide access and opportunities to work with her school. Ryan continues to serve as our Director of Education and created the annual Learning in Umpqua Watersheds environmental education workshop for teachers. Viviana continues to work with our Conservation and Restoration Committees and will be working with us to provide opportunities to collaborate with the Umpqua Community College (UCC) Natural Resources program. She is using her AmeriCorps education stipend to go back and add Natural Resources classes to her Bachelor of Science degree from Oregon State University (OSU).
We are very happy that for the second year in a row, we will have someone local to our community serve as our AmeriCorps. Prior to Viviana, all our AmeriCorps members came from places outside our community to serve here. They had to travel to an unknown place, find housing and learn about the community all while getting up to speed with learning about Umpqua Watersheds. Jessica Saxton, also a UCC/OSU student, started her service with Umpqua Watersheds on September 2nd. She will provide great opportunities for us to work with both schools in teaching environmental education in the Umpqua Watersheds, as well as work with us on conservation and restoration projects.
Another first and exciting opportunity we will be engaged in this fall is collaborating with the Umpqua Valley Audubon Society (UVAS) as they host their first AmeriCorps member, Tracy Maxwell. She will be based at the Umpqua Watersheds office, and I will be a co-mentor/supervisor along with Diana Wales from UVAS. She will serve to provide training and outreach opportunities for people in our community related to the mission of UVAS. We will be working closely with UVAS on several events in the coming months.
In addition to UVAS, we will expand our efforts to collaborate with other AmeriCorps host programs through our partnership with the United Communities AmeriCorps program. We will offer to provide facilities, airtime on our radio, co-hosting events, and other collaborative opportunities to increase effectiveness and participation in our work.
We are very fortunate to have a thriving AmeriCorps program. Our members serve with us for 11 months and Umpqua Watershed’s cash match is only about $10,000. While it is a small amount for a full-time position, it is a lot for a small organization. We have had tremendous support from members in our community over the years and need your help again. Please consider donating to support our program. Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions.