For some, success can be measured by how much money they earn or their influence of power within an organization. As the AmeriCorps Educator at the Wilbur D. May Arboretum & Botanical Garden, my success is measured by the quality of connections I make between the community and nature. Though all definitions are valid, America needs more people willing to take a risk in order to make a difference in the lives of others. Taking a risk on something you believe in can be scary, trust me! You may not know where to start or where to go. Luckily, there is AmeriCorps to help you get started and support you along the way. With a variety of opportunities offered by top organizations across the United States, there is something for everyone.
Creating programs for the community to learn about nature and wildlife is exactly what I wanted out of my year of service. What I have experienced has surpassed my expectations. Not only have I grown as an educator, I have grown as an individual. As an AmeriCorps member I receive a monthly living stipend and will earn an educational award at the end of my service. Though this monthly allowance may scare some off, it has taught me the power of budgeting and what I am capable of as a person. Another unexpected accomplishment was being accepted into Graduate School. Thanks to the AmeriCorps Virtual Grad Fair I was able to talk one on one with program representatives at top universities from across the country. Not only were they patient with all my questions, these universities valued that I was in AmeriCorps.
Danielle leading guided tours through the arboretum for adults and kids.
As the AmeriCorps Educator at the Wilbur D. May Arboretum & Botanical Garden my passion for environmental education has been nourished, cultivated, and is flourishing. Within a month of starting my service I developed the Little Sprouts program for families with children ages 2-5. The feedback from the community has been incredible; there is clearly a need for early childhood education in nature! Half way through my year of service, the May Arboretum now has seven educational programs including new field trips for students in the Washoe County School District. My purpose at the May Arboretum is not only to achieve our mission of “education, conservation, and research” but to inspire people of all ages to connect with nature.
Danielle reading the book Over and Under the Snow at the Wilbur D. May Museum.
If you feel a desire to make a difference but don’t know where to start, I suggest looking within and asking “what do I want?” Reflection and introspection are vital to discovering our passions and true calling as individuals. Once you have a general idea of how you want to make a difference, grab a cup of coffee (or tea), sit back, relax, and check out https://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps. I guarantee not only will you be surprised by what you discover, you will feel inspired to get things done!