In the past couple of months, I have started dreaming about work (service hours, to be more precise). In some of my dreams, I relive visits to beautiful properties, bouncing along in the backseat of a pickup or ATV while furiously scribbling notes on some noteworthy property attribute. Sometimes my dreams are stressful, in which I remember projects left unfinished, landowners that I haven't gotten back with. It seems my subconscious is busy toiling away at all hours, working out plans of action to protect this property or educate this individual.
This is a new feeling for me. Never before I have been so inspired by the work that I am doing, in this case serving at an accredited land trust to protect land in the greater Asheville area. I also never imagined that what would excite me most, even during sleep, would also serve to better my community by protecting drinking water, scenic vistas, working farmland and animal habitat; talk about getting more than one bird with one stone!
Western North Carolina is a special place in many ways, which makes it vulnerable to forces both from within and without that are almost too numerous to name. However, I see my service term, and the work done by Project Conserve as a whole, as a bulwark against those forces, with the potential to even enhance the natural resources of the Southern Blue Ridge and the communities that depend on them. In my two terms as an AmeriCorps, I have posted miles of rugged boundary against trespass and exploitation, organized community volunteers, educated dozens of landowners on ways to protect their land, and overseen important acquisition projects. To think that there are over thirty AmeriCorps Project Conserve members, working toward the same goals every year in our communities to effect change is a powerful thought indeed.
I am proud of the things I have accomplished as a service member, and excited for the opportunity that it has opened to me in the field of conservation. I know that even though I will have to leave my AmeriCorps days behind me soon, I can still get things done - AmeriCorps style - far into the future.