Kelly McCann – Mississippi National River and Recreation Area

As part of our work plan for the year, the CVAs at Mississippi National River FullSizeRender (7)and Recreation Area were asked to plan and lead 6-10 mid-size events (40-60 volunteers) and 2 larger events (100+ volunteers). I hosted 2 of my mid-size events in October. Quinn Feller also hosted two, so we are close to the mid-size goal! Large events to come for MLK Jr Day of Service and Valentines Day of Service… hopefully.

My first event was a volunteer event for 7th graders with out partner Macalester College. I coordinated with their staff to host the event at the Katherine Ordway Field Station which boasts a remnant prairie — great the volunteer seed collecting event! 65 7th Graders stepped off the bus bright-and-early at 8 AM. Open World Learning School is going to be part of the new native prairie plant nursery program in 2016. These kids get to be involved from seed collecting, to greenhouse growing, all the way to planting their seedlings in park restoration events. The kids rotated through 3 stations: a hike with a ranger, seed collecting, and a seed dispersal activity that I adapted specially for the day. We had amazingly warm 70 degree weather for mid-October, so the kids really enjoying romping around in the prairie all day.

Two weeks after the successful field trip, I cohosted a very different event. The Emerging Multicultural Leaders Experience (EMLE) of the YMCA was in Minneapolis this year. They also offer a service option as part of the conference, and we were lucky enough to host them! I planned the event with our local YMCA community coordinator, also an Americorps member.

EMLE volunteers by the Mighty Mississippi
EMLE volunteers by the Mighty Mississippi

My luck with the weather had run out though, and we had icy sprinkles all morning. We had half of the participants show up, about 25 people, but everyone really showed up to work and have a good time. It was a great experience to see these YMCA staff members from all over the US experience the Mississippi River and a bald eagle flyover to boot. They were exceptionally hard workers when we got them started on hauling brush for a winter brush burn. We also had them design and put together several pollinator houses to leave at a nearby YMCA day camp. I couldn’t believe how appreciative they were to us — I walked away that day with some free Jimmy John’s and a new t-shirt to remember the day, but it will be their appreciation and thank yous that made it truly worth the day in the rain and the hours of planning.

I still can’t believe I survived my first two volunteer events without any major fails. Shout out to everyone who helped me out in my first foray into volunteer coordination and here’s to even bigger and better events to come.