My name is Peter and I am an AmeriCorps Alumnus.
I recently completed two back-to-back 10 week contracts with the Nevada Outdoor School AmeriCorps Program at the Host Site Friends of Nevada Wilderness. Ten weeks go by pretty fast, and so do two sets of ten, so when I look at back at all that we accomplished it’s a bit overwhelming. During my twenty weeks working with Friends of Nevada Wilderness I participated in 8 volunteer field projects – two of which were 4-day overnight hitches at 10,000’, 6 outreach events including the Federal Duck Stamp Competition Judging at Springs Preserve, 5 solo wilderness monitoring trips, worked with 4 Federal Land Management Agencies – BLM, NPS, FWS, and USFS – as well as state agencies and NGOs, completed 3 scouting trips to plan projects, lead 2 volunteer projects, and helped host 1 Wild and Scenic Film Festival with Zappos and Smokey the Bear. That’s not even taking into account miles hiked, flora and fauna sighted, trash picked up, graffiti removed, interests encouraged, volunteers inspired, or friends made. You can do and see a lot in 20 weeks.
AmeriCorps offers an opportunity to travel for many people. I was able to travel locally during my time serving. I chose to stay in Las Vegas, my home town, and to apply to a program at a site I am very familiar with. I’ve volunteered with Friends of Nevada Wilderness since 2015. FNW is a statewide non-profit that has contributed to the designation of every one of the over 70 Wilderness Areas in Nevada. We have 18 in Clark County alone, and during my 20 weeks I visited 13 of them. While all of these areas are relatively close to town, I had never seen many of them. It was like seeing a whole new side (a baker’s dozen new sides) of my hometown. This was an extremely valuable experience in and of itself. Seeing Las Vegas from a dozen new angles – often with new people who were also seeing these places for the first time, often with people intimately familiar with the landscape, sometimes alone – allowed me to look at a lot of things in a new light. I was very pleasantly surprised by the amazingly diverse cross-section of Las Vegans who come out to support our Public Lands and Wild Spaces. The Wilderness and the Spirit of Service really unite people, it’s a beautiful thing to see.
My time with AmeriCorps taught me that I can accomplish a lot more than I thought I could, physically and mentally. At times it was at times challenging, but always rewarding. I would do it again.