Thursday, December 02, 2010

AmeriCorp Members Travel To Dysart Woods For Ecological Immersion


Besides water sampling, environmental education activities, data analysis, community outreach and all the other daily tasks each AmeriCorps member has committed to an extensive training program for this year. On October 29th all eight Rural Action Watershed AmeriCorps members joined the Environmental Education Program Coordinator, Joe Brehm, for a hands-on learning experience at Dysart Woods. The purpose of the trip was for members to gain knowledge about our native woodlands, flora and fauna and what better place to do it than Ohio's last remaining portion of old growth forest. Members spent the day learning how to identify native trees, recognize bird species and learn about the history of Ohio's woodlands.

Member Lauren Armeni of Leading Creek Watershed commented, " Initially walking into Dysart Woods felt like going back in time; where the land was still untouched and noise pollution did not exist. All that surrounded us were trees of all sizes and the critters that lived amongst them." Elise Gage of Monday Creek Restoration Project noted, " It was amazing to see such a unique tract of land in Ohio. Not only did we learn to identify some of the native trees and birds, we also learned the characteristics of an old-growth forest." Everyone marveled at Joe's depth of knowledge about the forest environment as he lead them through the natural landscape. It was a memorable experience for all. One member wrapped up the overall feelings of the group as they reflected on the day while traveling home, " We felt somewhat sad since this was just a small remnant of what used to be. However sad we were, we felt very lucky to have had this experience and marvel in the beauty that is Dysart Woods. This trip made us further realize how important it is to appreciate everything around us, because we never know when it will be gone!" The knowledge gained and memories of their experience will only serve to strengthen the members commitment to watershed and environmental restoration efforts.

Enhancing the skills of members through experiential learnings is a key part of the overall AmeriCorps goal. By providing trainings like the Dysart trip, members build their capacity and gain a unique perspective on the work they have chosen to accomplish during their year of service. Sharing their experiences will hopefully encourage others, especially young people, to become active in environmental restoration efforts building a strong base of community support for local projects and injecting a real appreciation for our natural world that will translate into good stewardship practices for a lifetime.

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