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On December 9th, twenty-seven Sierra Nevada AmeriCorps Partnership (SNAP) members celebrated their efforts which restored 2000 acres of habitat, conducted ecological monitoring on over 340 sites, educated over 17,200 individuals, and engaged over 2600 volunteers in 2008. At the graduation ceremony, members recounted the highlights of their year of national service for the Sierra Nevada and received accolades and thanks for all their great work. Here in Yosemite, one member, Brittany Woiderski, graduated after completing two years with the program.
Brittany served in Yosemite with the National Park Service and focused two years of service on monitoring the extent of informal trails in meadows, riverbank condition of the Merced River, and the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in relation to these and other ongoing projects within the Branch of Vegetation and Ecological Restoration, Resources Management and Science Division.
She and other members shared that AmeriCorps not only allowed them to help their country, but also provided them a valuable experience. "SNAP has provided me with a solid foundation for living in this crazy world: a place to plant roots and grow, a small group of fellow AmeriCorps members who have the capacity to love and provide for each other, and the self-respect and courage needed to carry on afterwards," said Woiderski in a letter to AmeriCorps that detailed her story of service.
The 27 individuals served with 19 non-profit community groups and natural resource agencies in 11 towns and accomplished a variety of service tasks throughout the Sierra Nevada. For a small monthly stipend, members served 40 hours per week all year long. "It’s incredible that 27 people serving for just one year did so much for the Sierra environment," said Do Lee, Sierra Nevada AmeriCorps Partnership Director. "These AmeriCorps members’ sweat, labor, and love really is impressive."
"We are located all over the Sierra in an effort to spread the concept of volunteerism throughout the entire geographic region, offer diverse service sites to members, and to retain that link between community non-profit groups and natural resource agencies," said Woiderski. "[It’s] a partnership that could easily dissipate without the support of SNAP members—people who, as individuals, offer a unique set of skills, exude independence, and are committed to their cause, but as a group of AmeriCorps members, represent the next generation of land managers, politicians, and influential writers, and symbolize the beginning of a shift in American thinking where volunteerism and land conservation have commonly taken a backseat."
This is the second year of the AmeriCorps program in the Sierra Nevada region. Since its creation 1994, AmeriCorps has been a network of local, state, and national service programs that connect more than 70,000 Americans each year in intensive service to meet our country’s critical needs in education, public safety, health, and the environment. The SNAP mission to serve in community-based organizations by conducting local habitat restoration, performing ecological monitoring, educating the public, and recruiting civilian volunteers to do the same, is achieved with unmatched dedication by those who represent the heart and the future of the Sierra.
The program is directed and administered by the Sierra Nevada Alliance, a non-profit organization that works to protect and restore landscapes, water, wildlife and rural communities. In 2008, there were 19 groups and agencies partnering with SNAP that support AmeriCorps members throughout the 400-mile region.
For more information about national service opportunities, visit www.nationalservice.gov or for SNAP, call (530) 542-4546 or visit: www.sierranevadaalliance.org/programs/program.shtml?type=pgm08