This week in the Young N’ Wild series, meet the AmeriCorps students who are hard at work in the outdoors, having fun, learning something new, and in the end, will create a place where everyone can find “the nature within them”.
Residents and visitors to the Pioneer Valley in Western Massachusetts will soon have a new place to watch birds and other wildlife, take peaceful outdoor strolls, and enjoy the sights and sounds of a national wildlife refuge. The Fort River Division of the Silvio Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge will soon have a 1.2 mile universally accessible nature trail, thanks in part to five AmeriCorps students working together this summer to complete this worthwhile project. Meet the crew!
Heather Furman, Schenectady, NY
Spending my days outdoors and traveling through some of the country’s most beautiful places during a cross-country cycling trip inspired me to dedicate my career to protecting the natural environment and promote outdoor recreation. Having also worked outdoors in Arizona and Ohio gave me a broad and diverse perspective of what our natural resources offer for wildlife and for people. When I’m not working to protect land, I enjoy riding my bike, skiing and hiking in natural and wild places.
Brent Holiday, Forked River, NJ
From a young age I spent time working on carpentry projects with my father. Living so close to the coast while growing up also meant a lot of surfing and swimming in the ocean. While spending so much time on the beach I found myself dismayed at all the trash and debris in the water, which inspired me to pursue work in conservation. One aspect of the job at Sivlio Conte I really enjoy is public outreach and working with people. I also enjoy spending time being active outside, gardening and cooking.
Marc Bissonnette, Kingston, WA
After serving a year as a member of the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps I found myself drawn to do more conservation work. The work I do in natural resources makes me feel good about myself as well as the promoting a healthy love of the outdoors for everyone. While working on the nature trail at the refuge I have honed my skills carpentry, trail planning and earthwork. I also enjoy helping staff with environmental education programs for refuge visitors.
Wesley Issacson, Woodstock, IL
I have always been fascinated and drawn to work in conservation and the rewarding feeling I get when I am part of managing our nation’s natural resources. In additional to building the nature trail at the refuge I help with fisheries research and the Watershed on Wheels mobile environmental education programs, which is similar to the work I did as an educator and naturalist at the Willowbrook Wildlife Center. When not working I like to rock climb, hike, run and go birding.
Gillian Braver, Atlanta, GA
After studying environmental science in college I knew I wanted to be outside and involved with the protection and conservation of sensitive natural resources. I moved to western Massachusetts to work on a trail crew with the Student Conservation Association. I worked on planning, constructing and completing trails through the state and now use the skills I developed in my job at the Silvio Conte refuge building the accessible trail.