Vermont Ranks 4th in the Nation for Most AmeriCorps Members
August 23, 2016 |
The Corporation for National and Community Service has released the states and cities which produce the most AmeriCorps members, and Vermont ranks #4 in the nation. Vermont Youth Conservation Corps is engaging 76 young adults in service this year through AmeriCorps, including a crew led by Connie Henshaw and Eli Beattie.
After a six week stint along the Appalachian Trail’s very remote back side of Killington (see photo below), the VYCC crew moved to Clarendon Gorge near Route 103 (top photo). Spread in pairs and trios along a steep incline about 200 feet long, the crew is preparing to build three rock structures that will retain soil and divert water. Shoulder to shoulder, Corps Members heave rocks and move earth with the assistance of heavy rock bars and pick mattocks.
Josh and Emily are trying to get the first stone of a crib wall to sit evenly in the hole they have dug, but it wobbles under Emily’s feet when she tests it. Josh suggests moving the rock to even the bottom of the hole. Emily listens, allows for a pause, and asks a clarifying question. The discussion lasts no more than two minutes, at which time each person clearly understands and has agreed to the plan – as they should, before propping up a 300 pound rock and reaching underneath it.
“Trail,” calls Emily, the first Corps Member to see approaching hikers. It’s not a loud call, but the crew heeds it by stepping off the tread to allow the hikers to pass comfortably.
Work resumes as quietly as it paused. One could mistake this quiet for lack of energy or enthusiasm or physical effort, but that would be a grave miscalculation. For example, a pair successfully unearths a large stone that has been challenging the entire crew for quite some time. There have been several discussions, a few strategies, and lots of sweat leading up to this moment. The achievement is celebrated with a hearty high five and big smiles; then, on to the next task. There is much more to do before the day is out and the crew is eager to set stones.
A lot of learning takes place in this culture of few words and soft voices. Corps Members are tuned in to their surroundings and crew mates. Connie summarizes, “Living outside, you start to hear and see things that you weren’t able to notice before.”