So, what do you do?

by David Minor, web and social media specialist/ AmeriCorps member with MN DNR Scientific and Natural Areas through Conservation Corps’ Individual Placement program

The Conservation Corps individual placement program is a great opportunity. I am placed with the Scientific and Natural Areas Program at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. I am self-directed most the time and I get to develop projects that interest me. It has been a pretty great year. One thing that has been interesting, and sometimes kind of funny, is trying to explain to my friends and family what I am doing this year, and the program I’m serving with.

Sometimes, there are people who hear “AmeriCorps” and think it’s the other service program, where you travel abroad to serve for two years. They ask where I am going and when I am leaving. The Peace Corps is a great program, but different from AmeriCorps.

A lot of the time, people aren’t familiar with Conservation Corps MN & IA (CCMI), but are familiar with AmeriCorps! Usually then, I get to explain how CCMI and AmeriCorps work together, and how CCMI is different from other AmeriCorps programs. No, I’m not teaching in a classroom, but I know a lot of people that have done those AmeriCorps programs and they had great experiences there too!

If people are familiar with Conservation Corps, they usually aren’t familiar with the Individual Placement Program. They usually associate the Corps with the great projects that crew members do in the field. So, I get to share a little bit about the Individual Placement Program, and explain how Conservation Corps places members with partner organizations, such as the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Then I get to talk about my position at the DNR with the Scientific and Natural Areas Program.

People generally do not know about the Scientific and Natural Areas Program, so I get to talk about the important work this program does to protect Minnesota’s natural resources. (Check them out, they are really cool).

My position can be complex to explain to people, I’m sure other Corps members can relate. People have varying degrees of familiarity about these programs and organizations, so I’ve developed a pretty quick elevator pitch to explain it, which usually gets the trick done. I’m sure many people have a similar, one sentence, explanation for what they do. This is how mine usually goes, “I am serving a year in AmeriCorps, as a Conservation Corps individual placement at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources with the Scientific and Natural Areas Program.” Then we go from there, depending on what they have questions about.

Here I am, at a Scientific and Natural Area, wearing a Conservation Corps / AmeriCorps badge, with a Department of Natural Resources car. Photo by David Minor.