by Jenny Sherren, North District Field Crew Member/ AmeriCorps Member
We are well into the fall season and have already seen changes happening all around us. Here in Northern Minnesota the leaves are almost done falling, the temperature has dropped, and it won’t be long until there is snow on the ground. The weather isn’t the only thing changing. As corpsmembers we are preparing for our next step as the term is coming to an end. In the past this would be a daunting change for me, personally. But luckily, I feel that what I have learned in the Corps and how I have changed as a person has prepared me for this next step in my career.
I have learned so much this term. First, I have gained many technical skills including driving with a trailer, ATV/UTV operation, herbicide use, disaster response/relief and tool maintenance and usage. I can now operate and maintain power tools like a chainsaw, power drill, table saw, brush saw and weed whip. My knowledge and ability to use hand tools like sledgehammers, axes, hand saws, and fire tools has also increased tremendously. Secondly, I have gained many interpersonal skills. I have learned how to communicate effectively by listening to understand and asking for clarification when needed. I have also learned how to work in a close-knit team. As a team member I have stepped up to help others when necessary, but I have also asked for help when I have needed it
The last eight months with the Corps have also changed me as a person. The biggest change I have seen in myself is how much confidence I have gained. The Corps challenged me to really step outside of my comfort zone. It put me in a position where I would ultimately fail at something, but it instilled a mindset where that was okay. If I failed, I had the opportunity to analyze what went wrong, ask others for advice, and try again until I mastered that task. Knowing that failure doesn’t mean that I will never accomplish a certain task, but that I simply have to try again is what has built my confidence. With this, I am now much more open to trying new things and interacting with new people.
I am excited to take all these personal changes into the next phase of my career. I will be looking into another term with the Corps, specifically a term spent as an Individual Placement Member or a Crew Leader. I am also looking at positions outside of the Corps – specifically technician positions with the Forest Service or a Soil and Water Conservation District in Minnesota. I have also thought about adding a certification, like GIS (geographic information system), onto my degree with the education award I will receive. With whatever path I take in the end, I am grateful for my time with Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa and how it has helped me grow as an individual.