Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Speaking as the Project Lead for the Spring ACE VUS Leader Team, the most beneﬁcial part of this program has been watching Eva and Mike turn conservation ideas into reality. Speaking with them individually throughout the season, they repeat the same idea.Conservation service projects have given them the ammunition to spread the word and really immerse themselves in local conservation mevements. I use the word “ammunition” because the build-up of “I can” throughout the season was incredible and gave both members a new-found sense of personal power. Whereas before thier experience here in Nashville, they had ideals but lacked the follow through. In such a culturally rich part of the United States, Nashville has handed the team more opportunities than we have time for in this short season. Discovering the ability to make dig deep into one’s own conservation ethic, researching hands-on opportunities to speak to those ethics and the satisfaction I saw once the conservation service projects began was a highlight for me as a leader. I will whole heartedly encourage members on my summer team to seek out conservation service projects that serve both personal conservation ethics and professional development.
Army Corps of Engineers and SCA, thank you!
Eva Donnelly: “My success story within SCA has to be the Bird Workshop that myself and Mike teamed up to put on at Shelby Bottoms Park. We had the opportunity to teach two groups of a local homeschool group, Mike taking on the older kids and myself taking on the 4-8 year olds. What impressed me most was how smart each kiddo was, each one being able to identify more birds than I anticipated. We spent half the workshop learning about birds and doing fun little activities, learning how to eat like a bird and so on. We ﬁnished off the workshop by making bird feeders so that the kids could hang them in their yards. One little girl, who was around 4, proclaimed that she was going to be a “bird scientist,” and then after her mom prompted her corrected herself: “I am going to be… an ornithologist!” I think this is my success because this project took a lot of time and dedication on my part. I wanted to impact the kids in a way that would make them appreciate birds and their local ecological world around them. And so when I began the project I started almost immediately after training ended. It took a while for us to get the ball rolling, but once the day arrived that we were to put on this workshop for the kids, it went really well, much better than I expected! Our partnership with Shelby Bottoms Park was also great, because the project organizer, Denise, was incredibly helpful and went out of her way to get us what we needed. For something that was planned over the span of two months and ﬁnally resulted in a fun, educational workshop for kids, I am proud of how it went and am happy to have done it!”
Mike Vasquez: “One speciﬁc example of growing socially and professionally would be working with the Nashville Food Project. Here I connected with the organization to offer 3 of us to volunteer here. While being there and working with the members of the NFP, we bonded over the nature of our organization and how it relates to theirs. We then went back and offered a total of 6 volunteers one day that helped them accomplish some things they would have otherwise not been able to do. We are now trying to organize some conservation projects for the summer, and they featured us on their organization’s blog. I think that the nature of this leadership program forces us into some kind of personal growth. It involves stepping into places that may be uncomfortable but that are necessary to complete competencies for the program. From doing this I have grown professionally and socially because I have had to reach out to members of local organizations and interact with them, learning that although someone might have a title they are still just as much of a regular person as I am. Emotionally I have become more resilient to change, and have learned not to get worked up when things don’t go the way they were planned to go the ﬁrst, second or even the third time around. I have also grown as a leader and development some important skills that I will need as a leader. These include budgeting, organizational, time management, and technical skills.”