(Mobile, Ala.) - Over the past 25 years, AmeriCorps has evolved to meet changing community needs while continuing to develop its members into leaders. AmeriCorps, essentially a domestic version of the Peace Corps, has touched the lives of millions of Americans - many of them here in Alabama. The Governor's Office of Volunteer Services connects AmeriCorps Members to local service organizations such as Mobile Baykeeper, whose own AmeriCorps Members just wrapped up their 2018-2019 term.
Mobile Baykeeper’s AmeriCorps Team Members accomplished quite a lot for the 2018-2019 term. From the large amount of trash collected in our area to the number of water samples taken, they far exceeded their goals this year. Mobile Baykeeper's AmeriCorps Members work within three departments: SWAMP, Volunteer Engagement, and Patrol.
AmeriCorps SWAMP, or Strategic Watershed Awareness and Monitoring Program, is a trio of dedicated AmeriCorps Members whose purpose is to educate the public on the importance of watersheds and train citizens to become water quality monitors. This year, the SWAMP team was made up of Braxton Orso, Kassey Trahanas, and Ryann Wilcoxon. They lead school groups to test water in their area and teach students how humans impact the environment. While AmeriCorps Members are paid through the AmeriCorps program, much of the funding for SWAMP comes from grants. At the outset of their term, the SWAMP team's goals were to educate 3,000 students, give 40 presentations, and conduct 1,250 surveys to measure the efficacy of the program. They blew these goals out of the water with 4,013 students, 103 presentations, and 1,366 surveys. Additionally, they trained 211 water quality monitors to monitor our local water quality.
The AmeriCorps Volunteer Engagement team - a group of just two people - is responsible for procuring volunteers and organizing community cleanups. Emilee Foster and Boris Kresevljak led these efforts this year. This year's goals for the Volunteer Engagement team were to engage 500 volunteers through 16 cleanups. They expected this to result in 3,000 pieces of litter removed from local communities and 225 apple snails (an invasive species) collected. Again, Baykeeper's AmeriCorps Members exceeded expectations by hosting 27 cleanups and engaging 1,174 volunteers, collecting a remarkable 76,116 pieces of litter and 2,600 apple snails.
The AmeriCorps Patrol’s responsibilities lie in day-to-day watershed monitoring and scientific analysis. They are Mobile Baykeeper’s boots on the ground - a team of five people: Sarah Asher, Jamie Ellis, Ellie Mallon, Lizzie Simon, and Jacob Hartley. Their purpose is to help establish long-term changes in our water systems by attending to real citizens concerns, check construction stormwater compliance, test water quality, and more. This year, their goals were to resolve 60 citizen concerns, conduct 50 inspections, create 25 educational materials, give 15 presentations, and take 125 water quality samples. In fact they met all of these goals, writing 2 additional educational materials and taking a whopping 596 water quality samples. They then analyzed these samples in Mobile Baykeeper's lab, usually for the Swim Where It's Monitored (SWIM) program. The Patrol team even collected another 9,419 pieces of trash from the One Mile Creek Watershed.
Before the involvement of AmeriCorps, Mobile Baykeeper was a team of eight who could not have possibly monitored 9 SWIM sites, taught in 17 schools across Mobile and Baldwin County, and engaged over 1,000 volunteers. The AmeriCorps program, through the Governor's Office of Volunteer Services, is a desperately needed service organization that's accomplished tremendous feats in the past 25 years. Mobile Baykeeper is just one Alabama organization that's seen their impact, and they look forward to the next 25 years of serving their coastal communities.
Mobile Baykeeper is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization that works to provide citizens a means to protect the beauty, health and heritage of the Mobile Bay Watershed and our coastal communities. To learn more about Mobile Baykeeper, please visit www.mobilebaykeeper.org.