The Important Moments

By Jackson Henderson on June 12, 2017.

As I come towards the end of two years in AmeriCorps Project Conserve,
I realize that I’m going to miss the people I have met, the opportunities to learn.
Sixty-four members, twenty-two months.
That’s a lot of numbers, to what does it add up?

I could ramble off statistics on education, acres and volunteers.
But I’d rather describe the important moments that have surfaced during these years.

Camp Rockbrook for orientation; meeting new friends, having a bonfire.
Learning about the year ahead, what we would be doing, who we would inspire.
First week’s Big Sweep clean-up on the French Broad River,
Second week’s Hickory Nut Gorge hiking adventure. 

Learning about land trusts at CMLC,
Managing invasive plants at fee-simple properties.
Hemlock trees are super cool!
Woolly-Adelgid is not though, damn those fools.

Trail work, work-days, volunteer engagement;
Every day was different, I enjoyed being patient.

Year two rolls around, I switch over to MountainTrue.
Learning about macro-invertebrates, chemicals, cows and their poo.
Educating youth on water quality at Kids in the Creek,
Finding an eastern hellbender in the Mills River was a treat!

Bio-monitoring stoneflies, mayflies, caddisflies and the rest.
Chemical monitoring eight parameters per monthly test.
Calculating biotic indices based on bug count and tolerance.
Testing pH, turbidity, TSS, conductivity, alkalinity, nitrogen, nitrate, and phosphorus.

Cane Creek live-staking, silky willows and dogwood,
Bacterial testing before tubing season to make sure all is good.

The most important moments, however, comes from the community grown.
By serving western North Carolina together, Project Conserve has shown
that change really does just take a group of committed folks 
to care about a cause and to not give up hope.

I’m thankful for my time here, although the 'living stipend' ain't much.
Lack of income was made up by food stamps, pot-lucks and donated lunch.

Thank you, Project Conserve, for strengthening my love for these mountains.
I’ve been blessed to experience so many important moments, here, in the southern Appalachians.