AmeriCorps Patrol Recap: First Year in the Books
by Ellie Mallon and Diego Calderon-Arrieta, 2017-2018 AmeriCorps Patrol & Monitoring Members
As our time as AmeriCorps Patrol and Monitoring Members has now come to a close, we wanted to reflect back on our amazing nine months with Mobile Baykeeper and give you all a little insight into what we have accomplished and everything we have learned along the way.
We did a lot in nine months! As part of the AmeriCorps Program, we were required to meet a set of deliverables established by the Mobile Baykeeper Program team. When we were first told what these deliverables were going to be, we thought there was no way we would achieve them all. However, through incredible teamwork and a lot of days spent braving all types of conditions out in the field, we succeeded in every category!
Below are just a handful of things we accomplished...
Resolved over 10 Citizen Concerns
Performed 60 unique inspections (over 85 in total)
These include investigating muddy stormwater runoff at construction sites, sewage overflows/spills and other environmental issues brought to our attention from citizen concerns
Collected more than 211 bacteria samples
Addressed 60 citizen concerns
Conducted 15 presentations, including:
Adult water quality monitoring trainings
Educational presentations through our Strategic Watershed Awareness and Monitoring Program (SWAMP)
Muddy Water Watch staff presentation
Created 29 Educational Materials
These included SWIM emails, fact sheets, and blog posts about ongoing issues.
This list is just a brief summary of our accomplishments and does not even come close to everything we got to be involved with and contribute to during our term. We will forever be thankful to Baykeeper for all of the amazing experiences and challenges it allowed us to partake in.
How We Supported the Baykeeper Mission
As many of you probably know, Mobile Baykeeper’s mission is to provide citizens a means to protect the beauty, health and heritage of the Mobile Bay Watershed and our coastal communities. We accomplish this through many avenues including a combination of research, collaboration and education. Here’s how our work fit under these areas:
Research - A good bit of our time was spent doing scholarly research on many different projects that Baykeeper is involved with. Some of these topics included coal ash, general water quality parameters, wetland fill projects, and illicit discharge detection methods. Through this research we were able to dig deep on these issues and help Mobile Baykeeper continue to be the informed voice of reason.
Collaboration - One of Baykeeper’s greatest strengths is collaborating for solutions with diverse groups throughout Mobile and Baldwin Counties. On a weekly basis, we hear about many different issues going on in our local community from concerned citizens. Through these concerns, we are able to engage with not only local citizens but also other involved parties including the City of Mobile, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, different contractors and developers, and other stakeholders to address many different issues in our area.
Education - The final component that plays a significant role in Mobile Baykeeper’s mission is a focus on education. As the Patrol and Monitoring AmeriCorps Members, our main focus was not on Baykeeper’s education program (SWAMP), but fortunately we were able to help out with it from time to time when extra hands were needed! During this time, we assisted with 10 SWAMP water quality monitoring trainings at local schools, We also assisted in tabling events such as Earth Day Mobile Bay and spearheaded the Straw Free Mobile Bay campaign during the week of Earth Day.
So the million dollar question as one chapter comes to a close… what’s next for the patrol and monitoring dynamic duo? Well, Diego will continue working towards his PhD in Chemistry while interning at Baheth Research & Development Labs. He also plans to stay engaged in many of the environmental issues he is passionate about, including environmental justice concerns for low income and minority communities and air quality monitoring.
I recently graduated from Spring Hill College with a degree in Biology with a concentration in Marine and Organismal Biology. I am hoping to do another term of AmeriCorps with Mobile Baykeeper while studying for the GRE and applying for graduate schools in either Environmental Science or Marine Ecology. My passion for protecting our planet lead me to Baykeeper and strengthened my desire to have a positive impact in our beautiful Mobile Bay area.
Even though this term is coming to a close, we will never forget all the incredibly valuable skills and life lessons Mobile Baykeeper has taught us. Moving forward in our careers, we are prepared to handle many different professional situations and very excited to see where the world takes us next!
Things We Learned
“One of the most valuable things I learned was taking technical science information and being able to translate it in a way that the general public can easily understand it and allow them to be part of the solution.” - Ellie
“I think one of the most valuable things I learned at Baykeeper was how to communicate environmental issues in a politically conservative environment.” - Diego
Advice for Future AmeriCorps
“Always bring a change of clothes, an extra pair of shoes, and be ready to wing it” - Ellie
“Have a to-do-list and write everything down” - Diego
Now Accepting Applications for the 2018-2019 Term
Mobile Baykeeper is now hiring AmeriCorps Members for the 2018-2019 program year. Positions are available for three programs: Baykeeper Patrol & Monitoring, Volunteer Engagement, and Strategic Watershed Awareness & Monitoring Program. The expected start date is September 4, 2018. Click here to apply and learn more.