When I was in school at Michigan State University, I became aware of who MUCC was and how active they were in the conservation world. Although I did not work directly with MUCC while at school, I did work closely with their staff and programs through other internships. This type of connection makes me appreciate why we serve in conservation, whether you’re practicing it or educating about it, conservation connects many different organizations, groups, clubs, and agencies under a common mission/goal. I saw that type of connection between MUCC and Huron Pines AmeriCorps and I was eager to apply as their engagement specialist.
On the application, the positions main focus was to be serving for the “On-The-Ground” (OTG) program. Knowing of MUCC, I was aware of OTG but had never volunteered for an event. In fact, at this point in my career, I had truly not yet gotten my hands dirty for conservation. I had been soaking presentations up like a sponge, gave presentations, attended educational courses, but had never touched a shovel in the name of conservation. I am very excited to be given the opportunity to grow with the OTG program, as the new Huron Pines AmeriCorps member serving with MUCC.
The OTG program connects state wildlife biologists and local volunteers to enhance wildlife habitat on state game areas. Hunter Salisbury and the previous coordinator have been successful with the OTG program here at MUCC. I have seen the program’s success first hand by attending my first OTG project on February 2nd, 2019 when 30+ volunteers teamed up with the wildlife biologist and techs from St. Charles DNR station to build 30 wood duck boxes for the Shiawassee State Game Area. The programs ability to enhance wildlife habitat is apparent and the way OTG connects people with one another to share conservation practices is very impactful.
Shaun, Hunter and I discussed the future of OTG and its ability to grow. Outreach ideas where passed around; we talked about recruitment and how we can work on connecting local college clubs and how to stay in touch with volunteers by creating an OTG newsletter. We also talked about creating a fun event/dinner that highlights our thanks to the local state wildlife biologist and volunteers.
As a Huron Pines AmeriCorps member, MUCC gave me the opportunity to organize and run an OTG event this summer. Not only is the program growing but it is giving someone like me who is interesting in a conservation career the experience to learn. The OTG program is growing, and I am happy to help take part in seeing it do so.