Earth Day celebrated all week long!

Conservation Corps celebrated Earth Day with volunteer and outreach events during the two weeks around April 22. Here is a report from Conservation Legacy about the collective impact of AmeriCorps members on Earth Day, and below is a rundown of what we had going on:

ON EARTH DAY

Iowa crews headed outside to remove invasive plants in Polk County and plant trees in Ames

In partnership with Polk County Parks, five AmeriCorps members worked with 61 community volunteers (including college students and families with kids) on Earth Day to pull and bag invasive garlic mustard, and hand cut, pile and spray honeysuckle and buckthorn. Six AmeriCorps members also worked at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources State Forest, planting 400 trees that will serve as windbreaks.

Bre Hess-Fross worked with volunteers to remove invasive plants in Polk County.

Bre Hess-Fross worked with volunteers to remove invasive plants in Polk County.

And others were inside sharing their environmental message

One AmeriCorps program staffer tabled at Des Moines Area Community College, providing outreach and education to 25 people. In addition, two AmeriCorps members presented to 200 Saint Paul Central High School students for their Earth Day celebration.

Youth Outdoors crew helped MN DNR with annual spring cleanup

Four YO crew members spent Earth Day assisting with the DNR's annual cleanup in Saint Paul. Besides picking up trash, they shuttled many of the 125 volunteers around the city and hauled collected trash to dumpsters. In total, volunteers cleaned up 3,935 lbs. of trash.

OTHER EVENTS

Conservation Corps Minnesota youth alumni reconnect at Earth Day celebration

Each spring around Earth Day, alumni of Conservation Corps youth programs – including AmeriCorps youth leader alums – meet up for a service project and to catch up on each other’s lives. For this year’s rendezvous on April 25, 18 people -- youth alumni, AmeriCorps members and staff members, along with a Youth Farm project host -- spent the morning prepping a 3/4-acre community garden for spring planting on a Youth Farm garden site in West Saint Paul. 

Youth Outdoors alumni cleared a Youth Farm garden of debris, in preparation for spring planting.

Youth Outdoors alumni cleared a Youth Farm garden of debris, in preparation for spring planting.

Conservation Corps teams up with Rochester nonprofit for Earth Day events

Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa field crews recognized Earth Day by participating in community tree plantings and forester training, in partnership with the Rochester, Minn. nonprofit RNeighbors.

On April 11, Conservation Corps AmeriCorps members attended RNeighbors’ Citizen Forester class along with 44 Rochester community members, including MN Green Corps AmeriCorps members and students from Rochester Community and Technical College and Rochester high schools. Corps members learned about local trees and planting procedures in preparation for upcoming tree planting events.

Thanks to volunteers, on April 18, 25 trees found homes on boulevards in the Northwest neighborhood of Rochester during the NW Neighbors Grant Tree Planting. Seven AmeriCorps members engaged 25 community volunteers in planting the trees, dedicating a total 70 hours of service.

At the Community Tree Planting on May 2, 20 Corps members partnered with RNeighbors staff members and about 100 community volunteers to plant nearly 200 trees on Rochester city boulevards. Before the event, crews placed bare root trees at designated sites and, after trained volunteers planted the trees, crews followed up by mulching, staking and watering each tree. The city removes about 1,000 boulevard trees annually due to disease or damage and replaces them with a wide variety of species, including smaller trees that will not interfere with power lines. The boulevard trees’ canopies reduce storm water run-off, improve air quality and reduce home cooling costs.

Conservation Corps field crew members planted boulevard trees during the 2015 Community Tree Planting in Rochester, Minn.

Conservation Corps field crew members planted boulevard trees during the 2015 Community Tree Planting in Rochester, Minn.

Conservation Corps youth and volunteers clean up the Twin Cities

On April 18, six Conservation Corps Youth Outdoors (YO) crews, led by Conservation Corps AmeriCorps members, scattered throughout the city to help host trash cleanup efforts during the annual Saint Paul Citywide Cleanup. More than 950 volunteers contributed their time to beautify the city, picking up approximately 2.5 tons of trash. Youth crews greeted guests and provided education about trash decomposition.

Two Youth Outdoors crews led education efforts at the Harriet Island cleanup site during the Saint Paul Citywide Cleanup on April 18.

Two Youth Outdoors crews led education efforts at the Harriet Island cleanup site during the Saint Paul Citywide Cleanup on April 18.

Across the river in Minneapolis, as part of Global Youth Service Day, youth crews participated in two events sponsored by Three Rivers Park District. The Powderhorn youth crew worked at Richardson Nature Center, pulling about 1/4-acre of buckthorn and working on some improvements to the nature center. The North Commons crew spent the day at North Mississippi Regional Park, removing 150 lbs. of trash along the river. Throughout the day they worked alongside 20 other volunteers.

The Minneapolis North Commons crew posed by a huge piece of metal debris they retrieved from the banks of the Mississippi. 

The Minneapolis North Commons crew posed by a huge piece of metal debris they retrieved from the banks of the Mississippi. 

Crew members pick up trash in north central Minnesota

Three AmeriCorps members from the Brainerd crew volunteered their time to pick up 200 pounds of trash and 12 tires around Lake Mille Lacs on Monday, April 20.