Hello, my name is Autumn Christenson and I am the new Huron Pines AmeriCorps member, serving with MUCC for the next 10 months as their Engagement Specialist. This blog aims to tell you a little bit about my background and my Huron Pines AmeriCorps service here at MUCC.
Although born in Indiana, I moved up to Michigan at a very young age so that my family and I could live closer to my grandparents, so I am technically a Michigander, right. I was very fortunate to grow up 5 minutes from Lake Michigan in a rural community, where my love for the outdoors was born. I loved fishing and spending countless hours outside with my family while also being very active in sports. Soon, I was off to Michigan State University (MSU) on an athletic scholarship to play volleyball. In December of 2017, I graduated from MSU with a degree in Zoology and a concentration in Marine Biology.
As I am writing this now, sitting at my desk at MUCC headquarters in Lansing, clearly I am not on the coast pursuing my zoology/marine biology degree. However, I am exactly where I want to be. I had two very insightful internships and a newfound passion that changed my career path to what it is today. I was a Glassen Scholar with the Hal & Jean Glassen Foundation in the summer of 2017 working with the MSU Extension: Boone and Crockett Club.
In January 2018, I became the conservation intern for the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA). In addition, over the last 2 years, I took on hunting as a young adult and it has taken my heart. I am a strong supporter of gathering your own source of protein-rich organic meat. On top of that, I was blown away by all that hunting (and fishing) does for conservation. With the two internships under my belt and my new passion for hunting, I knew that I wanted my career path to be about educating others about conservation for our wildlife and their habitat.
This fall I was with the Barry Conservation District until being accepted as a Huron Pines AmeriCorps (HPA) member this winter. I looked into what HPA was all about, and I jumped into this opportunity. I was very impressed with how they built future conservation leaders. AmeriCorps is a national service program designed to help communities address their toughest challenges by engaging thousands of Americans. AmeriCorps in Michigan has 30 programs, and Huron Pines AmeriCorps is the only one that focuses on statewide conservation.
HPA collaborates with conservation organizations across the state, MUCC being just one service site. HPA focuses on building conservation leaders for the community, which is exactly what MUCC offers every day. Together HPA and MUCC created my service position as their new engagement specialist for the next 10 months.
My position will be mostly centered on the On the Ground program here at MUCC, assisting the coordinator of the program, Hunter Salisbury, with recruiting new volunteers and projects as well as creating new ideas for the program. I will also be joining the Education Department, engaging the youth on natural resources through environmental education and assisting Morgan Warda with Michigan Wildlife Cooperative tasks. I am very excited to be here with MUCC and am looking forward to my service in conservation with Huron Pines AmeriCorps.
“In the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught” – Baba Dioum