On Saturday, October 22nd, Vicksburg National Military Park hosted a group of AmeriCorps NCCC members to volunteer in the park while they were back at regional headquarters (which just happens to be in Vicksburg) in between projects. As the park’s Centennial Volunteer Ambassador, and a member of AmeriCorps, I thought this would be a great day to help out! It was also National Make a Difference Day!

Sara, our Natural Resources Program Manager, and myself had both had busy weeks and hadn’t had much time to prepare for our volunteers, so we met early Saturday morning to get all of our tools and supplies ready. By 9 am we met a group of about 22 slightly sleepy and cold, but enthusiastic AmeriCorps NCCC members at our Visitor Center. After some introductions, we headed over to where we would be working. Our task for the day was to clean up what we call The Boy Scout Trail. It’s a 12 mile trail that runs through the middle of our very hilly park. Some parts are better maintained than others, but it is certainly an underutilized resource. That is why it is so important that we get volunteers to help us make the trail at least a little more accessible to the public. There is a lot that can be done to promote the trail, but keeping it maintained is an important start.

I took half the group one direction on this particular loop of the trail and Sara took the other half the other direction. We worked all morning in the woods clearing downed trees and branches, raking up leaves, and trimming overgrown vines. We took a break for lunch and then kept at it for the rest of the afternoon.

With so many volunteers we were able to move down the trail much faster than I anticipated. It was really nice to talk and work with these AmeriCorps NCCC members. Being the only intern in my park, I sometimes envy the team atmosphere they enjoy throughout their service. I had fun being a part of that for the day! When there were steep sections or streams to climb over everyone helped each other across and really worked together. I was definitely impressed with how well everyone worked together and how they encouraged each other throughout the day to keep working. We accomplished a lot and I’m so thankful for their service to our park, and the country!

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A rare flat section of the Boy Scout Trail. You can see the AmeriCorps NCCC members in the far off distance working their way down the trail clearing downed trees, raking leaves, and trimming overgrown vines.