Tag Archives: Tennessee Environmental Council

Cheers to the outgoing 2019-2020 AmeriCorps members!

It is hard to believe August is nearly halfway over, which means it’s time to say goodbye to the 2019-2020 HON AmeriCorps cohort. For the past year, the HON AmeriCorps program engaged 19 civic-minded individuals in a yearlong term of service at local nonprofits. They received skills training, professional development, and networking opportunities, while building programmatic capacity at the agencies they supported. 

Between the devastating March 3 tornado and the communitywide impacts of COVID-19, this has been a challenging year. These AmeriCorps members have proven to be creative, resilient, and impactful in the face of these challenges, and they stepped up to lead in a time of crisis in our community.  

Please join us in wishing them well and read on to learn more about their most memorable experiences and teachable moments, and how the nonprofiteers at the organizations where they served feel about them. We could not be more grateful for this group, and they will all be dearly missed!  

Let’s hear from the leaders at the agencies where they served  

Ellen Barker, Community Partner Engagement Leader at Hands On Nashville

“Ellen has been a true joy to serve alongside for the past year. Every aspect of our operation she’s been involved with has been improved. I cannot image the last year with her as part of the team. Her spirit and willingness to learn will be dearly missed.” — Drew Himsworth (Community Partner Coordinator, Hands On Nashville) 

Paige Dawson, Sustainability Outreach Coordinator at Tennessee Environmental Council

“Paige’s infinite positivity and incredible work ethic will certainly be missed here! Oh, and let’s not forget all the entertaining animal rescue stories … A compassionate spirit, that one.  Incredibly quick learning and efficient.” – Julia Weber (Program Manager, Tennessee Environmental Council)   

Mary Eaton, Volunteer Outreach Leader at Hands On Nashville

“When the tornado hit in March, HON was inundated with emails and social media messages from people wanting to help and looking for access to services. Mary helped our team navigate and respond to thousands of inquiries, all while working a second job. She brings levity and humor to everything she does, and we’re so excited to see what her future holds!” — Lindsey Turner (Director of Communications, Hands On Nashville) 

Hayley Elliott, Volunteer Project Leader at Hands On Nashville 

“Hayley is a wonderful team member — always up for a challenge (hello, chainsaw!), ready to pitch in and work wherever needed, warm, funny, dedicated, and thoughtful about how she carries out her responsibilities. We’ll miss her terribly. She’s going to be a great success in the field of nonprofit management, and anyone who works with her will be fortunate to have her!” – Karin Weaver (Corporate Project Manager, Hands On Nashville) 

Samantha Estes, Citizen Science and Volunteer Restoration Project Coordinator at Harpeth Conservancy

“Samantha has been a pleasure to work with during her time at Harpeth Conservancy. Her passion and work ethic helped us develop a well-rounded volunteer engagement program and communication strategy.” — Ryan W. Jackwood, Director of Watershed Science & Restoration

Katin Liphart, Watershed Education and Renewal Coordinator at Richland Creek Watershed Alliance

“All programs outcomes and outputs have close to doubled with Katin on our team. She brought skills, commitment, team work, dedication and enthusiasm the position.” — Monette Rebecca (Richland Creek Watershed Alliance)

Ezra Schley, Sustainability Outreach Coordinator at Tennessee Environmental Council

“Ezra is one of the hardest working individuals we’ve ever gotten the pleasure of working with. He maneuvered through these trying times with grace and confidence.” — Julia Weber (Program Manager, Tennessee Environmental Council) 

Alex Stark, Environmental Education Coordinator at Cumberland River Compact

“Through her service term with the Cumberland River Compact’s education programs, Alex taught over 1,300 students across our region about the value of our water resources and inspired the future water stewards. Her contagious enthusiasm, creativity, and can-do attitude were an important asset to us in these changing times and she will be missed next year. Thank you, Alex!”  — Catherine Price (Education & Outreach Manager, Cumberland River Compact) 

 Matt Trotsky, Stream Restoration Coordinator at Cumberland River Compact

“Matt’s can-do attitude was a welcome addition to our AmeriCorps team. His willingness to jump in and help was always a welcome sight during the past year!” — Gray Perry (Program Manager, Clean Streams) 

Dylan Vines, Urban Tree Coordinator at Cumberland River Compact

“Dylan is a hard worker who takes initiative, and everyone who had the opportunity to work with him — staff, community volunteers, and more — enjoyed his easy-going nature and professionalism.” — Meg Morgan (Campaign Manager, Root Nashville) 

Let’s hear from the members themselves 

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Meriweather Bean, Community, Education & Outreach Coordinator at Harpeth Conservancy

“My favorite memory was seeing our Fall Wild & Scenic Film Festival come to fruition. This was really my first major responsibility in my service year and a great learning experience in event organizing, but also organizing with community partners. It was very rewarding to see it become a success and gave me confidence continuing through my service year.” 

Lexi Bolinski, Volunteer Project Leader at Hands On Nashville

“Serving alongside fellow AmeriCorps members and staff at Hands On Nashville during tornado cleanup efforts was by far the most memorable and life-changing moment of this year of service. Being able to assist those impacted by the disaster while learning from the talented staff at HON was an experience unlike any other.” 

Amber Lopatine, Urban Forest Strategic Initiatives Coordinator at Nashville Tree Foundation

“The most rewarding part of my service year was helping with the tornado relief efforts. It was really impactful to see so many people come together during this time and lend a hand in whatever way they could.”

Jasmine Lucas, Communications & Community Engagement Coordinator at Plant the Seed

“I’ve learned about a variety of stages nonprofits can operate out of. Rolling with the punches is a MUST when serving with nonprofits, but it is quite rewarding in the end when everyone takes on the punches and powers through together. You see the resilience of community through nonprofits.” 

Ben Piñon, Disaster Response Coordinator at Hands On Nashville*

Ben speaks on his favorite memory: “During the tornado response as I was walking the streets directing volunteers, I got a call from a guy offering his assistance including some heavy machinery he had. When he said he was from Maryland all of a sudden, I was speechless. He said hello a couple of times thinking the call had dropped. I told him I was just at a loss for words, touched that people wanted to come help from so far away.” 

*Ben also served with Plant the Seed but transitioned to HON when schools closed in the spring as a result of COVID-19.

Lily Sronkoski, Garden Programming and Partnerships Coordinator at Plant the Seed

“I thought I was adaptable before this year, but I was wrong. I truly learned how to be adaptable this year.” 

Jessa Tremblay, Programming and Partnerships Coordinator at Plant the Seed

Jessa speaks highly of her time serving over the course of the year: “Kids are hilarious. The things they say to you are so bizarre, but so wonderful. It was absolutely wonderful getting to know my students over time and I always went to work grateful that I was getting to teach them and get to know them better.” 

Haley Tucker, Citizen Science & Restoration Coordinator at Harpeth Conservancy

When asked what new skills she learned: “Website building/design, volunteer organization, science/restoration, etc., all of which can be carried into future jobs.” 

A day on, not a day off: Spend your MLK Day helping others

This year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 20 marks the 25th anniversary of the day of service that celebrates the civil rights leader’s life and legacy. Observed each year on the third Monday in January as “a day on, not a day off,” MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities.

Below we’ve rounded up a list of MLK Day service projects led by HON AmeriCorps members. (To view a full list of HON’s January opportunities, click here.)

If you serve on MLK Day, we want to know! Share your stories on social media using the hashtags #MLKDay and #DayON25.

Pick up litter to keep waterways clean
Richland Creek Watershed Alliance
Minimum age: 18, or 12 with an adult
When: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 20

Collect your free, reusable #grabthelitter bag and volunteer with Richland Creek Watershed Alliance (RCWA) and pick up litter along the Richland Creek Greenway or in your local neighborhood. Learn how to prevent litter from washing into local streams, creeks, and rivers, and reuse your #grabthelitter bag to continue volunteering all year long.

Assemble furniture for McGruder Family Resource Center
Hands On Nashville
Minimum age: 18
When: 9 a.m. to noon on Monday, Jan. 20

Build lounge and rocking chairs, side tables, and storage units to help McGruder Family Resource Center spruce up their patio and computer lab areas. These items will allow for easy organization of supplies and offer families that frequent McGruder comfortable places to relax and work. Volunteers should wear closed-toe shoes and dress comfortably.

Plant a tree and beautify an assisted living center
Cumberland River Compact
Minimum age: 18 or 1 with an adult
When: 9 a.m. to noon on Monday, Jan. 20

Get ready to get a little dirty and plant some trees with the Cumberland River Compact. Gloves, tools and snacks will be provided. Volunteers are asked to wear closed-toe shoes and bring reusable water bottles.

Round up and recycle with Oak Hill residents
Tennessee Environmental Council
Minimum age: 18 or 12 with an adult
When: 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 20

Help educate and assist residents of Oak Hill in recycling at The Tennessee Environmental Council’s recycle round up. Residents will learn about their community’s recycling policies and help residents sort their hard-to-recycle materials (like computers, clothes, and phones.) Volunteers will monitor the recycling and composting stations, and help participants unload recyclables from their vehicles.

Provide shade and filter pollution by planting trees
Nashville Tree Foundation
Minimum age: 16 or 6 with an adult
When: 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 18

Trees are being planted at three different Metro Nashville Public School locations in East Nashville. (See the separate registration pages in the link above!) This event is an annual, family-friendly tree planting with the Nashville Tree Foundation. These trees make Nashville a greener community by creating an oxygen-rich environment, and reducing flooding by absorbing great amounts of ground water.

Donate needed items for young adults experiencing homelessness
Hands On Nashville
Minimum age: 18 or 1 with an adult
When: Ongoing though Jan. 17

It only takes a few minutes, but donating electronics, art supplies, personal care items, bottled water, and gift cards can have a big impact for those served by Nashville Launch Pad. Items can be donated at the Hands On Nashville office, 37 Peabody St., before Jan. 18. Read the full list of requested items here.

 

 

AmeriCorps Member Spotlights: Anna Patton and Valentin Le Besnerais

Happy AmeriCorps Week! All week here on the Show of Hands blog, we’ll be highlighting members of the HON AmeriCorps program, who are completing yearlong terms of service at nonprofit agencies across Nashville.

Today we feature two members serving with the Tennessee Environmental Council,  whose mission is to educate and advocate for the conservation and improvement of Tennessee’s environment, communities, and public health.

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Anna Patton

Composting and Recycling Education Coordinator 

What’s something you’ve done during your service term, or something you’re planning, that has been particularly rewarding? 

I have been a part of a community project that involved dealing with recycling and Nashville residents directly. It was rewarding because we were able to communicate the issue of contamination in the recycling stream and educate residents as well as volunteers of proper recycling habits.

I have also been able to be a part of an effort led by Urban Green Lab that targets tackling food waste in schools. I participated in a food waste audit in H.G. Hill Middle School, which was very eye-opening about the waste that is generated throughout four lunch periods. It has been inspiring to be a part of the conversation in how we can cut down on school food waste!

What drew you to serve with AmeriCorps? 

I have always pursued service as a part of my lifestyle, and have attempted to positively affect the community that I live in. AmeriCorps, being a national service program, was appealing to me due to its reliance on service as well an opportunity for me to challenge myself and grow through this service-learning program.

What’s the plan once you’ve completed your term? 

I plan to continue learning different skills in life that will educate me on how to further help people in all sectors of life. I am particularly interested in targeting environmental injustices by serving poverty-stricken communities. I plan to take what I have learned from TEC and practice strides toward a zero-landfill lifestyle.

How do you spend your time when you’re not serving or volunteering? 

I enjoy gardening as well as learning new trades such as playing the piano and ukulele. I also enjoy crafts involving upcycling or repurposing “old” or outdated materials through innovative methods such as naturally dyeing fabric to create homemade pants.

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Valentin Le Besnerais

Compost and Recycling Education Coordinator

What’s something you’ve done during your service term, or something you’re planning, that has been particularly rewarding?

Making progress on Tennessee residents’ recycling and compost habits to ensure that as much waste is diverted from the landfill as possible!

What drew you to serve with AmeriCorps?

AmeriCorps gave me an opportunity to serve in a field that I am interested in, enabling me to advance my career and learn more about nonprofit operations.

What’s the plan once you’ve completed your term?

I plan on continuing on the path of environmentally friendly work to better the communities around me as I advance my career.

How do you spend your time when you’re not serving or volunteering?

I like to spend time outdoors hiking, playing sports, and riding my bike. I also enjoy listening to and playing music and attending concerts around town.