A Visit with Virginia Service and Conservation Corps

On Wednesday, March 30th, staff from The Corps Network travelled to Mason Neck State Park in Lorton, VA to visit Corpsmembers with the Virginia Service and Conservation Corps. In preparation for the busy summer season, the crew was rebuilding a section of boardwalk over a marshy area along the Potomac River. A quiet park located on a peninsula, Mason Neck is known for its significant population of nesting bald eagles.

We met with Jamie, Alyssa and George: three AmeriCorps members from a four-person crew. Jamie, who is originally from Wisconsin, previously served with Utah Conservation Corps. Alyssa came to Virginia after learning about AmeriCorps through a post-college internship with Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper in upstate New York. George, who is originally from California, joined the Corps as a break from a tiring schedule that involved attending college full-time, volunteering as an EMT and working at a Mexican bakery.

Primarily based out of Leesylvania State Park in Woodbridge, VA, the crew has served at a number of locations throughout northeast Virginia. Occasionally they meet with Corpsmembers based out of other parts of the state for large-scale prescribed burns or tree planting projects. While Alyssa is new to the Corps, both Jamie and George have wild land firefighter certifications and are working on getting certified in pesticide application. Jamie and George also recently took part in a nighttime search-and-rescue training.

Now that the weather is getting nicer, the crew serves about 45 hours a week. Most of their projects involve routine park maintenance. Usually a ranger or maintenance employee helps them get started on a project and then lets them take the lead.

The crew will serve together until August, marking the end of George and Jamie’s 1,700-hour term and Alyssa’s 300-hour term. Following the completion of her service, Jamie plans to use her AmeriCorps Education Award to get certified as a Wilderness First Responder. She misses the backcountry of Utah and hopes to move out West to find a job where she can utilize her college degree in biology and ecology. When George finishes his term, he plans to join AmeriCorps NCCC through their Sacramento campus and use his Education Award to complete college. Alyssa, who just started her term of service, isn’t sure what she wants to do at the end of the summer. For now she’s happy to be learning new skills and working outdoors.

Alyssa working on the boardwalk.

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