Working for the Nature Conservancy of Rutland County, located in the old West Haven Schoolhouse in West Haven Vt., has allowed a team of AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) members a chance to serve the environment and enjoy the Green Mountain State. AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) is a full-time, team-based residential program for men and women, ages 18-24. Members are not considered volunteers since they receive stipends.
The NCCC workers, doing tree planting in Rutland County this month, come from across the country; they are based at Perry Point, Md., and aiding in the upkeep of the natural uniqueness of the area.
According to team media coordinator Jordan Lundberg, "The Nature Conservancy of Western Vermont aims at preserving the environmental assets of the area."
Lundberg said NCCC members-under the guidance of Elaine Blodgett of the Nature Conservancy in West Haven-are planting native trees at several locations. NCCC members work at the conservancy's Lower Poultney River Preserve and Champlain Valley Native Plant Restoration Nursery. The preserve and nursery are located at the end of Ward Road in Whitehall, N.Y. Beyond the nursery, set up in a former dairy barn, are 800 acres of conservancy land encompassing Buttonbush Swamp, woodlands, remote ridgelines, and land bordering Lake Champlain's South Bay.
Trees grown from harvested wild seeds and nuts are gathered within a 50-mile radius of the nursery and include oaks, maples, elm, dogwood, elderberry, ash and white pine.
Lundberg said that during tree planting, members work alongside high school students from around the county and beyond who come to offer assistance.
As an example, the NCCC team and local students planted a section of the West Haven Clay Plain located along Route 22A near Devil's Bowl Speedway. The planting includes seedlings inside wildlife-protective cultivation tubes. Similar NCCC efforts can be seen at several Rutland County locales.
"Among other things, the conservancy is also using its partnership with the AmeriCorps members in battling an invasive species in Vermont called garlic mustard," Lundberg said.
This is the fifteenth anniversary for AmeriCorps NCCC, a leadership program for young people ages 18 to 24.
In exchange for completing 1,700 hours of service during a 10-month term, these young people receive a taxpayer funded education award of nearly $5,000, plus a living stipend, housing and more.
AmeriCorps programs are administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency.
NCCC member Beth Sewart of Maryland, said she and her teammates will work together for 10 months although they may be moved around to different regions that might include Mississippi and West Virginia.
"I wanted to travel. Doing this kind of work was very appealing," Stewart said. She found AmeriCorps to be a perfect match for her youthful goals. Other teammates expressed similar reasons for enrolling in AmeriCorps NCCC.
According to government literature available to the public, the mission of AmeriCorps NCCC is "to strengthen communities and develop leaders through direct, team-based national and community service. In partnership with nonprofit organizations, state and local agencies, and faith-based and other community organizations, members complete service projects throughout the region they are assigned."
AmeriCorps NCCC is inspired by the the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s and the U.S. military; it is built on the belief that civic responsibility is a duty of all citizens and that national service programs work best with local communities to address "pressing needs".
Interested applicants and project sponsors are encouraged to learn more by visiting www.americorps.gov\Nccc or calling 1-800-942-2677.