September 11th, a National Day of Remembrance and Service, a day to remember those who lost their lives, and a day to build strength and pride for our communities. This was the case for a group of 30 middle school students from Franklin Academy (Wake Forest), and a handful of volunteers, organized in partnership between TLC, Conservation Trust for North Carolina, and Activate Good, who spent the day clearing about 50 feet of fence line at Walnut Hill. With loppers in hand, the students learned the value of hard work, and gained the pride of knowing that they were a part of something bigger. Something I can easily relate to. As TLC’s new AmeriCorps member through the Conservation Trust for North Carolina, I will be serving my term as the Community Outreach and Education Associate. With a previous background in wildlife management and research, I am excited to share my love of nature and wildlife through education and volunteer opportunities.
I was given an opportunity during this project to connect these kids with nature when we found a young Black Racer hiding next to a fence post. Having spent a year in Everglades National Park conducting snake surveys, I knew I had to take this opportunity to talk to these kids about the ecological importance of Black Racers before relocating the snake to safe location. As we continued to work, these young community members continued to outdo themselves with the amount of work they accomplished. They were able to communicate to complete the task by switching between lopping branches and vegetation to relocating the downed vegetation to the debris pile. In the end, these Franklin Academy students were able to celebrate their success in a job well done. I believe that it is important for all young peoples to have these qualities and feel a sense of pride in their communities and their country. I am very excited to contribute to the TLC community providing educational programs for kids, and working with volunteers to promote and advance TLC’s preserves.