Life Lessons: What I’ve learned in two years as an AmeriCorps Member

By Kate Nelson on July 27, 2017.

As my second AmeriCorps term comes to a close, I find myself looking back on the many things I learned these past two service terms. Twenty-two months of leading groups of volunteers, making connections, and serving all over Western North Carolina. There is no way I could ever sum up all of the things I’ve gained as a person in my two terms, so I leave you with this list:

  1. Always accept free food.
  2. Visit other member’s host sites as much as you can. This stuff is cool, people!
  3. Yes, your chacos do smell.
  4. When you are having a bad day, a good group of volunteers will always cheer you up.
  5. When you think you can’t fit that last tire into your canoe, you can.
  6. Always bring extra changes of clothes, just when you think you’re finally going to spend a day “in the office” your supervisor has you pulling muddy tires out of a creek.
  7. The person who is dirtiest at the end of a workday wins.
  8. If you don’t get Mexican food after a river cleanup, you’re doing it wrong.
  9. You actually have to plan for “life after AmeriCorps” during AmeriCorps. Even before you’re halfway done!
  10. In life, (and when fitting trash into boats), balance is everything.
  11. Sometimes you make a plan, sometimes that plan completely and entirely unravels. Thinking on your feet is good!
  12. Hula hoops will draw people to your booth during tabling events.
  13. It's totally normal to have people’s dogs, cats, and even hedgehogs in the office at any time.
  14. Appreciate each day. I am guilty of always looking forward to what is coming up next in my life. Before you know it, your service term will be over.
  15. “Getting things done” is never over. I believe we will all continue to serve the environment and our communities for the rest of our lives.


Kate Nelson
AmeriCorps Project Conserve
​Class of 2016 and 2017