20 years of service and the power of human action

Energy Corps

Read about Michael Daniel’s experience at the Serve MT Symposium:

Hey man, those kicks are tight!  On March 12th, 13th, and 14th, 200 AmeriCorps service members and 40 program staff  kicked off the annual ServeMontana symposium with a 90’s themed pizza party for AmeriCorps 20th anniversary. The symposium took place in Helena, Montana.  Service members were acknowledged by Governor Steve Bullock, and then sent on their way to participate in service projects around town!

Governor Bullock addressing AmeriCorps members in the state capitol
Governor Bullock addressing AmeriCorps members in the state capitol

AmeriCorps members participated in city-wide service projects at the following locations: Montana Wild Center, Habitat for Humanity, Lewis and Clark Humane Society, Intermountain Youth Home, Helena Indian Alliance, YWCA, YMCA, Good Samaritan, Florence Crittenton, and School Age Child Care (SACC).

Mike sorting donated goods at the Good Samaritan Thrift Store in Helena
Mike sorting donated goods at the Good Samaritan Thrift Store in Helena

Personally, I broke off into a group of around 15 service members to work with the Good Samaritan Thrift Store.  Once at the store, we split off into smaller groups to work on different tasks.  My group worked to sort, test, clean and organize many electronic items to get them prepared for the sales floor.  These items included: alarm clocks, computers, television sets, crock pots, microwaves, etc.  Good Samaritan Ministries provides services to meet the physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs of individuals and families, especially those most in need.

The next day was filled with breakout sessions on various topics such as: connecting kids to real food; protecting Montana’s watersheds; sparking youth engagement through service; and many more.  It was really great hearing about what other service members are up to throughout the state!  Energy Corps members may not have had as many members as some of the other programs, but we had a powerful presence at the symposium with our breakout session titled “Mitigating Climate Change in Montana.”  The four of us who are active Energy Corps members, along with our program coordinator, were able to get the word out about what we do, and how others can get involved with our mission!  The rest of the day was filled with a simulation based on a hypothetical disaster in a community that got us thinking about the different roles and considerations that go into helping a community respond.  On that day, we also heard a keynote speech from Dr. Paul Gordon Lauren with the University of Montana.

Mike explaining the air flow in a rocket stove
Mike explaining the air flow in a rocket stove

The final day included two skill-building sessions and a closing plenary from Shannon Stober.  Hearing Ms. Stober speak was a real pleasure, as she shared stories reflecting back to when she was an AmeriCorps service member.  As the Montana Conservation Corps Program Manager, she still demonstrates a major commitment to the program.  For most, a term of service will be a life-changing experience, although it is not always an easy transition.  Shannon spoke of the different challenges of being a public servant, and how she personally overcame these challenges to create an extraordinary experience.  At one point during this talk, I felt that Shannon was speaking directly to me.  I am getting closer to the end of my term of service, and plans for the future are a little unsure.  Shannon talked about changing environments, and how not sticking to “the plan” can be helpful.  “You have to take your path as it is laid out for you,” she said, I found these words very powerful as I take my next steps!

member_mike_danielMichael Daniel has a bachelor’s degree in appropriate technology from Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. He has experience in building greenhouses and working at a wind power demonstration site on Beech Mountain, NC. During his Energy Corps term, Mike will develop infrastructure and growing systems on a demonstration farm in addition to providing renewable energy education to local schools. His work will also consist of researching, designing, and installing of renewable energy systems to service green houses.

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