Monday, August 16, 2010

AmeriCorps Members Complete Inaugural Year of Program

On August 9, 2010 Rural Action's first AmeriCorps Watershed members completed their term of service. An Appreciation Celebration Picnic was held at Burr Oak State Park for members, host supervisors, community advisors and Rural Action staff. Folks enjoyed a rare day off with a cook-out, reminiscing about the past year and talk of plans for the future.

Members Rina Caldwell (Raccoon Creek), Sarah Drerup (Monday Creek), Matt Halfhill (Monday Creek), Amy Kettner (Moxahala Creek), Karla Sanders (Leading Creek) and Melissa Thorne (Huff Run) received high praise from Rural Action Executive Director Michelle Decker and Host Site Supervisors Mike Steinmaus (Monday Creek), Raina Fulks (Leading Creek), Amy Mackey ( Raccoon Creek) and Maureen Wise (Huff Run) for their hard work and dedication to the restoration of the watersheds in our region. Host Supervisor JT Kneen wrote in a congratulatory letter," This past year of service by the AmeriCorps Volunteers has been fantastic. It has been a pleasure to work with Rural Action on this project." Similar sentiments were echoed by other host site supervisors. Mike Steinmaus said of his two members, "I have never known folks to love their work as much as Sarah and Matt have this year. Every morning I would come in to smiles and hearty good mornings no matter what the project for the day." Amy Mackey lamented the fact that Rina was leaving them, "We miss her already and would never have accomplished half as much this year without her hard work and dedication."

AmeriCorps Project Director Candi Withem analyzed the overall statistics for the first three quarters of the program and revealed some spectacular results. 1,512 volunteers were recruited to assist in the watershed projects, over 2300 volunteers hours were served and over $36,000 in non-cash resources were leveraged for the programs not to mention several grant proposals being accepted and projects completed. Final results are expected to far exceed these numbers.

"This first group of AmeriCorps members has set the bar high for the incoming group starting their service on August 10, but I am sure they are up to the challenge. Between all the sampling and chemical analysis needed and the other major focus of environmental education activities for the future generation, the group has an exciting year planned. We look forward to working with all the new members and know they will bring exceptional skills and talents to benefit the program over the coming year."

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