This year marks the 25th anniversary of AmeriCorps, a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). Since the program’s launch in 1994, more than 1 million Americans have served, strengthening national service and volunteering in communities across our country. Every year, 75,000 AmeriCorps members serve through schools, nonprofits, and community organizations across the country. These individuals play a crucial role in the recovery of communities affected by disasters, helping first generation students access higher education, tutoring and mentoring young people, connecting veterans to jobs, caring for seniors, reducing crime and reviving cities, as well as a variety of other critical needs.
Mt. Adams Institute has been supported by AmeriCorps since its inception in 2012. It originally funded a planning grant that led to the development of the VetsWork program and subsequently supported its expansion across the country as well as the creation and implementation of our Public Lands Stewards program. Without AmeriCorps, Mt. Adams Institute and our programs would not have the impact that it is currently having on public lands and our participants.
AmeriCorps alumni often credit their year of service for developing leadership skills and opening doors to opportunities that advance their careers and education. In addition, alumni gain hands on experience that communities and employers find valuable. Since 2014, 81% of participants who’ve completed our VetsWork AmeriCorps program have been offered employment within the field. “The internship on the Deschutes National Forest acted like a springboard for my future career with the Forest Service. I owe all of this to the Mt. Adams Institute’s VetsWork program. If you take the internship serious and work hard, your resume will be bolstered, and you will be a part of the AmeriCorps family,” expressed VetsWork alum and military veteran, Justin Spedding.
AmeriCorps supports Mt. Adams Institute’s mission of connecting people to the natural world by identifying environmental stewardship as one of its priority areas. AmeriCorps aims to enhance public lands, help communities conserve energy, restore watersheds and clean rivers and streams, perform fire mitigation services and fight wildfires, and inform youth about caring for our natural resources and the great natural beauty our nation contains. Over the years, Mt. Adams Institute AmeriCorps members have served over 245,000 hours of volunteer service on our public lands from maintaining trails and public structures to engaging the community and local youth with stewardship of our natural places.
As MAI prepares to expand our AmeriCorps supported career development program by 70% in 2020, its important that we recognize the impact of national service. In the words of AmeriCorps Programs Director, Aaron Stanton, “AmeriCorps has been vital to the success of our programs and has changed the lives of many of our participants.”