Last year CTNC became the host organization for a new AmeriCorps Program, a 10-month national service program in environmental education and outreach. Our 14 AmeriCorps members wrapped up their work with a closing celebration on January 28 and a day of service the next day.

Our AmeriCorps program offers a life-changing opportunity to serve one’s community and engage people from all walks of life. In addition, there is a living stipend, health insurance, childcare assistance and professional development opportunities. Participants who complete the program can receive an education award of $5,730.

Over the past ten months, the 14 members immersed themselves into the communities where they worked and developed service projects that helped remove barriers to environmental education across North Carolina.  From building a giant inflatable whale and teaching students about the growing problem of marine debris, leading education and community outreach efforts in the Durham neighborhoods around the Ellerbe Creek Watershed, launching a new outreach program focused on monarch butterfly conservation and designing experiential education programs to engage the local community on the N.C. coast, all of the members have made a difference in people’s lives.

Together, they educated over 20,000 individuals and engaged in 3,000 outdoor public service volunteers. Plus, they created lifelong friendships, gained invaluable nonprofit experience, and answered the call of leadership in their communities. These values they will carry with them throughout their lives.

“One of my proudest moments is witnessing the personal and professional growth of the fourteen service members from start to finish,” said Nick DiColandrea, CTNC’s AmeriCorps director. “For the last ten months, these young leaders invested their passion and lives into service by protecting land and water, and educating and connecting North Carolina citizens to the outdoor places we love. “

As the first-year members of our AmeriCorps program move on to their next endeavors, we are already welcoming our second class of 18 members and getting them ready to serve their communities and become future leaders in conservation. The 2016 service year started on February 1 and ends on November 30, 2016.