Working with the Land Trust
Since the beginning of March I’ve been working for the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust (OWLT). After the months of no one hiring me an opportunity came up with AmeriCorps to be a part of a special experimental program in Wisconsin. For those that don’t know, AmeriCorps is pretty similar to the Peace Corps, but it’s based here in the states. (easy, eh?) This program takes a conservation focus, which makes it quite different from most of the other humanitarian efforts that the program is known for. Suits me just fine! What we are working on is a large collaboration with the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin who brought in AmeriCorps to Wisconsin for this program. The entire program aims to give those in the fields of Natural Resources experience and skills to go off and become successful in future work with conservation and environmentalism. It’s largely a professional development program, and with there being almost a couple dozen of us taking part in this we’re spread out throughout the state — most of us are with the government working for the DNR, but there are a few of us (myself included!) that are getting a taste of life with a non-profit private Land Trust. My term is for 6 months with the possibility to extend it for a year. I don’t know what’s going to happen in August when my term is up, but the prospects looking in every direction are exciting! This brings me to my land trust! The OWLT manages 3500 acres of land in Ozaukee and Washington counties. Two of the areas are State Natural Areas – and this is important. The AmeriCorps program is focused on the SNA Program of Wisconsin. So because of this, I am mainly responsible for being a Land Steward (snappy title, eh?) on these two areas. SNA #169 is Kurtz Woods, #353 is Huiras lake. They are designated SNAs for their unique habitat for flora / fauna, and their extreme rarity for the level of undisturbed forest on them. They are truly gems in this continually urbanizing landscape. The first couple months I’ve been doing mainly office work. Prepping for the upcoming work seasons, learning how things are done, working on special projects within the organization. While my little space has a window overlooking Main Street in downtown
West Bend It’s been alright so far – but lets be honest, for anyone that knows me being stuck in an area like this has driven me up the wall and hasn’t been the greatest for my productivity all the time. Luckily – that’s changed a lot. My main focus working with the trust for the next 6 months is to gain a wide range of skills that will assist me should I pursue a career in the field of Natural resources. I am responsible for those two state natural areas, and really building up and maintaining out volunteer corps. There’s a lot of politics I’ve been learning with this, and I’m really more of a “Do-er.” Not to say I don’t like a calculate plan for when I do do things, but I’m hoping to stay out of the politics and lip service part of this job as much as possible. I’m ready to get my hands dirty and start controlling invasive species. This week is a busy one as I have my first tree planting day, my first garlic mustard control day, and get to spend much of the week out in the field. I’m super excited and already a lot has happened. I’m backdating this entry since I meant to write it yesterday — but instead of heading home after I left the office last evening I visited Gehling and Claire in Milwaukee for a fantastic night. Living in Slinger … well, lets just say I can’t wait to get back to Madison, and it’s something that is really going to affect my future plans when the time comes. Tree planting report on it’s way!