Monthly Archives: December 2013

12/18/13 Alpaugh, CA

Today is our last day in Alpaugh, CA. I’ve lived here for about five weeks now, and I’ve come to love my time here. We’ve spent countless hours pulling invasive Basia, we’ve cleaned yards for the elderly, and trimmed trees for the local school. Outside of work, I planted trees and shrubs for the creation of a new wetland, I’ve cleaned fire trucks, stained porches, and played freeze tag with the local school program. Despite there being “nothing to do in Alpaugh,” we’ve kept pretty busy and I’ll be sad to leave.
I think my favorite work day would be when we were able to work with the elderly. We went to one man’s yard that was full of weeds and trash. We were able to remove everything and make his yard a much better environment for him and his dogs, who were a joy to work with as well. My favorite Independent Service Project was this past Saturday. We went to one of the local hunting clubs that is working with the NRSC to turn old farmland into wetlands. The NRSC has funds through the farm bill to turn marginal farmland into useful habitats. So, rather than being paid a subsidy when crops don’t come through, the land is turned into a habitat for migrating birds. This farmer then used the land for a hunting club, so that he can still gain a profit from the land. I found this project fascinating. This land was originally wild habitat, turned farmland, unusable to the birds. Turning it back into wetland fixes the problem created by the farmland, while still giving a profit to the farmer, a win win for everyone. I also thoroughly enjoyed working at the beginning of a wetlands project. In Atwell Island and Pixley Wildlife Refuge where we’ve worked, the wetlands are already completed, so seeing an empty field and planting native plants allowed us to see full circle the work we’ve done this round.
As the first round of my NCCC experience, I’m happy to have worked and lived in Alpaugh. Entering this program, I wanted to do a lot of hands on, manual labor, since it is unlikely that I will do that for my career. The intense weeding and outdoor work with the BLM was perfect for this. In this short time, we were also able to work with the local food bank, feeding over 150 families for Christmas. It was wonderful to be involved in such an important event, and to meet and work with members of the community.
Soon, the Pacific Region will be going on winter break. We get a little over two weeks to go home, relax, and recharge for the next round. I will be heading back to CT for some good food and family time.
Next round, my team will be headed to Coos Bay, Oregon to work with a food bank. I, however, will not be going with them. A couple of weeks ago, we received the opportunity to apply for a composite team, a team made up of members from various teams to complete a special project. I applied, and was selected. So, I will be spending half of the round in Washington working with a park called Northwest Trek. The other half will be spent in Oregon working with Camp Taloali, a camp for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. At both places we will be completing trail work as well as infrastructure improvement. I will work with the composite team for Round 2, and then at the end of the round, we will go back to our original teams for Round 3.
I am very excited to work with the composite team. I applied because both organizations sounded amazing to work with, and I felt it would be useful to work with other corps members and another team leader. It’s going to be strange not working with Silver 7, especially as they grow and thrive without me in Coos Bay. I’m just going to have to work extra hard at keeping in touch with my Silver 7 teammates, which could actually bring us closer in the end.
Well, that’s all the news I have. I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season!