Gloomy skies and rain returned to Oregon this fall, but every cloud has a silver lining.
For the last three years, IAE has sponsored teams from the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), a federal program that sends 18-24 year-olds to serve across the nation. This fall IAE hosted the "Silver 5" team and this fine bunch of young people helped out with a variety of restoration projects throughout the Willamette Valley and on the coast. "Each fall, IAE is committed to planting large numbers of plants out at many restoration sites, so it is a huge plus to have the AmeriCorps team help us get the plants in the ground," said Peter Moore, one of IAE's restoration ecologists.
Projects have ranged from tree clearing, salvaging of plant materials from nurseries, to planting out bulbs, divisions, trees and shrubs, at a wide range of restoration sites. In the six weeks that they were with us, they planted out tens of thousands of plants, all in good humor, despite the often wet weather and muddy conditions. "One thing I learned, was remaining positive, even in challenging conditions, and doing tasks that I was completely unfamiliar with," said Kimberly Swartz, one of the Silver 5 team. "I learned to use tools effectively in the outdoors," said Britney Hernandez, and added, "I never did outdoor work before, so it was a great experience." Jacob Pearson commented that "seeing a variety of habitats made it extra special." Dom Pritzl noted, "By helping one species, you help the whole ecosystem." One of the team members' favorite sites was Beazell Memorial Forest, a Benton County property, where they used chainsaws to clear trees in order to maintain migration corridors for Taylor's checkerspot butterflies.
Andy Neill, IAE's restoration technician, enjoyed his six weeks with the crew. "These young folks have a lot of energy and they are fun to work with," he said. It wasn't all work and no play, however, as IAE staff and the AmeriCorps team enjoyed social times, including a pot luck meal, a pizza party and the annual IAE Christmas party, where the white elephant gift exchange provided some hilarity. We appreciate the hard work put in by Silver 5 and wish them all the best with the rest of their year's service. You can follow their progress on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chickenwolves/.