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Restoring Resources Changed My Life

Corpsmembers sitting on big rock on lakeshore

By Braden Kowalski, Duluth Field Crew Member / AmeriCorps Member

 

When I first thought of joining the Corps, I really didn’t know exactly what I was getting into. I really only knew that I’d be outdoors, and that I would be helping to improve and preserve our environment. But now, more than a month into my term of service, I have fostered a much greater respect, appreciation, and love for the beauty that is Northern Minnesota.

When I moved to Duluth in the fall of 2020 for my freshmen year of college, I never really got out and enjoyed the great outdoors of the north shore. But in this past month with the Corps, I have worked in nearly 15 different state parks throughout Northern Minnesota. A majority of the work my crew has been doing involves managing invasive species, such as Common Tansy or Canadian Thistle. As such, this means hiking miles and miles of trails each day, paying great attention to the various plants on the trails. In the process of trekking trough miles of trail every day, I have explored state parks, both new and old to me, with a newfound enthusiasm and eagerness. I’ve been to sections of parks I never would have gone to otherwise, and each time It’s been a rewarding and engaging experience.

Corpsmembers sitting on big rock on lakeshore

 

One truly unexpected aspect of my service is just how proud I am of the work I’m doing as an AmeriCorps member. This pride isn’t just induced from the work we do today, but also from the long legacy of conservation that previous generations have accomplished. In almost every park I’ve worked in, I’ve read signs sharing the history of how the original Civilian Conservation Corps helped create and shape the parks to what we know and love today. Knowing that nearly a century later, I am following in their bootsteps and helping preserve the environment we love, fills me with such pride and honor.

All of this work I’ve been doing in the past month with the Corps has been an incredible, life changing experience. I’ve gained a much stronger appreciation and care for my local environment, all while bonding with my incredible crew mates. I am filled with pride from the work we do, and in the process of restoring resources, my life has been changed.