ACE VUS Leader Team says goodbye to spring and hello to summer!

Today is the last day of our surveys- it seems like just yesterday we were braving the Tennessee “snow” two months ago, bundling up from head to toe, flurries kissing our faces to keep warm… and sitting here on this beautiful sun soaked day has almost come too soon.

Like every day in the life of an “earth-saver,” the past two weeks for the Nashville Crew have been busy, checking off the end-of-season to-do list and trying to enjoy the time we have left. Mike and I completed our Bird Workshop at Shelby Bottoms Nature Center, where we split a group of home-schooled students (I had the younger kiddos and Mike the older) and taught them about local birds through activities like a Bird walk, a speaker, bird-feeder building, and bird identification. The weather held up long enough for Mike to take his students on a bird walk on the Greenway, a walkway that circles Nashville, so that the kids could identify calls and different kinds of birds. My kiddos were an incredibly smart bunch, with one little girl proclaiming that she was going to grow up to be a “Bird Scientist!” This tiny thing knew almost every bird I threw out, and (with some help from her mom) corrected herself later by saying confidently that she would be “also an ornithologist!” She was only 4, and I’m pretty sure she is going to rule the world one day.

Our partnership with the Shelby Bottoms Park has been wonderful, and we owe a ginormous thank you to Denise Weyer, the project manager at Shelby Bottoms. She helped us set up an SCA Booth so that we could relay SCA’s mission and history to those drawn to nature in the first place. Denise’s limitless support and help has given us the opportunity to become more active in Nashville’s community as well as engage and connect with the locals. Thank you Denise, for everything!

Our Worm Bins have been improving, if by improving you mean that they haven’t drowned!Although my worm babies are just in the beginning stages of worm bins, I have high hopes for these little guys to break down the compost in 30 days’ worth of time! Fingers crossed!

As the weather has been beautiful with a few bouts of rain, the Nashville Crew have taken advantage and took out our bikes to join in on the Music City Bike group, where a group of people get together to put the rubber to the ground, eventually ending up at a restaurant and all hanging out. Mike and Sophie ended up staying with the group and making new friends! And with the theme of trying to make new friends, the other night Mike, Sophie and I went out and biked to “East Nashville Underground” a music festival put on by a couple who love music, art and people! It was super fun, and we cut a rug! Mike and Sophie even contributed to the performing arts aspect of the Festival, wearing robot costumes and speaking in binary code for a portion of the night.

And as the thermometer creeps upward the realizations of time past sets in. Some of us will move on other things. Sophie will go on and work for SCA in Mississippi, to continue being a fearless leader in the beautiful land of the South. Mike is taking on the Nashville crew for the summer, morphing into the fearless leader he has trained over the past two months to become so that he can teach young minds the minutiae and overall beauty of surveys. I too will stay in Nashville, living here and hoping to continue on with the amazing people and organizations that we have connected with other the spring program. Our involvement with The Nashville Food Project has left an impact on me, and I hope to volunteer and learn more from them in the future. Shelby Bottoms will continue to be one of my favorite places in Nashville, and I hope that my relationship will grow beyond this program with this wonderful center. My experience with merely being exposed to the beauty of the lakes of Tennessee via the surveys I will forever be thankful for. I have had the opportunity to meet some pretty interesting characters, to talk to the wonderful Park Rangers who work so hard for the Parks, to witness beautiful unassuming wildlife, to swim in deep blue waters, to drive stretches of land that many people will never get to see, because they are back roads, local roads, or just beautiful scenery. My experience this spring has given me the chance to sharpen my leadership skills, and I emerge on the other end more confident than ever.

I know that once this program ends, I will forever appreciate my experience and the lessons that I have learned from Alex, Josiah and Liz; from Sophie and Mike; from my fellow SCAer’s; from Kyla, Matt, Dean, Deena and Meredith and others from the Army Corps of Engineers; from the wonderful locals of Nashville, TN and its surrounding area; and from the overall small talk and connections made with anyone and everyone during the course of this spring. Thank you.

I’d also like to take a moment to say goodbye to the hissing Goose-couple at Sycamore Creek! You will always (and forever) terrify me. But you entertained me to no end. For that, I thank you Doris and Tina.

Written by Eva Donnelly