By: Megan Zeiher, Recruitment Coordinator
Recruitment season at Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa will be in full swing in just a couple of weeks, with full-term AmeriCorps service positions opening mid-September and mid-October. To share a glimpse into the Conservation Corps experience, I reached out to Kelsey Depew and asked her a few questions about her time with us.
Kelsey served two terms in the Individual Placement Program and has always placed high importance on environmental education for herself, her peers, and youth. She loves that the Individual Placement Program gave her opportunities to network and build her career skills and appreciates the freedom she was given to pursue projects she thought were important and would enhance her experience or grow her knowledge base. She feels the greatest benefits of serving in the Corps were:
“The networking and education award. In my two years with the Corps, I made a ton of friends in the environmental sector which has expanded my career opportunities. Through the challenges and pressure to do my best, my confidence also grew. The two education awards have allowed me to be pay off my college debt and for half of my master’s degree in Natural Science and Environmental Education.”
In her first term, Kelsey was the Project GO Outreach and Community Mapping Specialist. In this role she worked to develop new partnerships and collaborative outreach programs in the Twin Cities. She was under the direction of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service—Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge (MNVNWR), with a mission to connect low-income and under-served youth in the Metro area to the refuge. Kelsey recruited and trained volunteers and interns to staff nature-planned activities and field-trips. She also recreated and developed the Project Get Outdoors website, brochures, and other creative publications. Kelsey even got to teach youth multiple MNVNWR nature classes, including: nature discovery hikes, building animal shelters, archery, geocaching, and nature photography. She also had the opportunity to teach 300+ third through fifth grade students about pollution during Mississippi National River and Recreation’s Big River Journey.
In her second term, Kelsey was the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Youth Outreach Specialist. Working in the Parks and Trails division, Kelsey developed, supported, and implemented ways to include youth in the decision-making process regarding the use of the Parks and Trails Legacy Funds by serving on the youth subcommittee within the Parks and Trails Legacy Advisory Committee (PTLAC). She coordinated and planned the PTLAC meetings. Kelsey also designed and implemented assessments of facilities and programs that are Parks and Trails Legacy funded projects and had projects related to social media, outreach events with youth focused activities, and the I Can Camp! Youth Group summer workshops. Other opportunities of hers included work with the Metro Council Equity Toolkit Workshops, St. Paul Right Track Interns, and GIS Application lesson-planning.
To anyone considering an Individual Placement role, Kelsey says, “All the benefits and opportunities that come out of the challenges put in front of you are worth it. And if you are placed, explore and take advantage of every chance to build your career skills and network during your service term.”
Currently, Kelsey is finishing her Capstone Project for her master’s degree and working for the YMCA in Shoreview as an Environmental Education Specialist. Her capstone is based on her passion to start a small environmental education and lifestyle consultant business. Kelsey’s new business is called Cut Fluff and its mission is to inspire and educate individuals to create a clean, sustainable lifestyle to lower their impact on Earth.
“It’s all about combining environmental education and cutting our excuses to do a better job at protecting and preserving our world from our own destruction. The Corps helped me make this passion a reality through all the baby steps of learning outreach techniques and my career strengths. During my service terms I also learned I wanted to be a leader, an educator, a consultant, a world changer.”