AmeriCorps team serves on Callaway conservation projects

Members of AmeriCorps team Earth 2 work on fencing in the Whetstone Creek Conservation Area in Williamsburg. The team has spent the past several weeks working on various conservation projects in the area, including helping tag geese in Fulton Wednesday.

Members of AmeriCorps team Earth 2 work on fencing in the Whetstone Creek Conservation Area in Williamsburg. The team has spent the past several weeks working on various conservation projects in the area, including helping tag geese in Fulton Wednesday.

A team of AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) members once again is in Callaway County working to support the Missouri Department of Conservation with various projects.

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Spraying for invasive plant species in the prairies at Whetstone Conservation Area has been one of the AmeriCorps team's primary jobs. The team will be working in Callaway County until July 11.

The group of nine young volunteers that comprise team “Earth 2” includes Eric Gendron of Waterboro, Maine; Dan Johnston of Baltimore, Md.; Kristin Orth of San Antonio, Texas; Melissa Finch of Fort Pierce, Fla.; Adrianne Payne of Brooklyn, N.Y.; Maggie Sheriff of Mechanicsburg, Penn.; Ryan Torngren of Sacramento, Calif.; and Vathani Logendran of Portland.

Over the past four weeks the group — which is based out of the Whetstone Creek Conservation Area in Williamsburg — has worked a variety of conservation-related jobs including spraying for invasive plants in the prairies, working on fences, painting a barn and helping with a goose roundup in Fulton on Wednesday.

“The main thing has been preserving and rebuilding the prairie habitat,” Johnston said. “(The conservation agents) do everything they can to educate you about what this prairie looked like before and what it’s going to look like when we’re done and the animals that are going to live here because of what we’ve done.”

Gendron agreed the job has provided “a lot of learning opportunities, and that’s been really cool.”

The team will continue to work in the area until July 17.

For all nine members of the team, Callaway County is their last service service project with AmeriCorps. All of them said their experience with the organization has been invaluable.

“It’s provided a good opportunity to learn new things and get to know a diverse group of people,” said Orth, whose other service has included providing disaster relief in Denver and at a school in Farmington, N.M. “If you don’t know exactly what you want to do, this is a good opportunity to figure it out because you’re working in so many different atmospheres.”

Torngren also said working with AmeriCorps helps give direction to those who are uncertain what they want to do after graduating from school.

“You gain invaluable experience — whether it’s learning to be a leader or how to manage a budget,” Torngren said. “You get to see places and do things you would never get to do sitting at home and doing a minimum-wage job.

“It’s the best choice I’ve ever made.”

Katherine Cummins can be reached at (573) 826-2418 or katherine@fultonsun.com.

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