Read about Mike’s experience weatherizing homes and educating students:
MLK Day of Service
Why should we serve? Well, why shouldn’t we? “Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve” -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. To become an integral part of a community I believe it takes more than just living in the area. There will always be a niche for volunteerism in a community, as Dr. King mentioned “everybody can serve”, no matter what the skill level. In honoring Dr. King’s legacy, Energy Corps members participated in CNCS’s (Corporation for National and Community Service) MLK day of service. As Energy Corps members, we seek to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering. So, on Monday (MLK day), four other Energy Corps members and I traveled to install light weatherization kits to homes owned by low income and senior citizens in Missoula, Montana.
Build tight, ventilate right
The light weatherization kits include: door sweeps, weather stripping to fit around door frames, insulated foam to fit behind outlet gaskets, window plastic to seal any leaks around the window itself, and water measures to reduce the amount of water that needs to be heated. During very cold days, these materials will help keep air from infiltrating, reducing the work load for heating systems, and ultimately lowering monthly utility bills. Because of a high demand for these weatherization kits, and the relentless commitment by Energy Corps members Eileen Munsch and Rachael Bramblett to set up appointments to install them, we were able to turn the MLK day of service into the MLK week of service. With the help of Energy Corps alumni, and a current AmeriCorps member, we were able to weatherize 35 homes in the Missoula area. The recipients of these kits were very grateful as we explained how they would keep their home tighter and a little bit cozier during a potentially harsh winter.
Back to School
I have been lucky enough to serve this community in another way. Last week, I was invited to get involved in the local classrooms. I spoke to eight different classes at the seventh grade, eighth grade, and high school levels. My presentation was on Biochar and Soil Improvement. Having no previous teaching experience, I have a new found respect for public school teachers. Given that biochar is a very technical subject, I feared the students would quickly lose interest. Surprisingly, the students were engaged the whole time, and actually seemed pretty excited. I focused on what biochar can do for soils, and why small-scale, local agriculture proves to be very beneficial versus commercial-scale agriculture. As an Energy Corps member, I focused on the bigger picture when it comes to agriculture. I explained how energy relates to agriculture, specifically, how much energy is used to power machinery, and manufacture different agricultural products. I also explained how energy is used at the post harvest level when processing, storing, and transporting different food products. Finally, I encouraged the students to get involved in the school’s gardening club, a club in which some of them were already members!
The MLK day of service was definitely a success not only here in Montana, but nationwide as well. I do think it is important to continue to serve, and to take many opportunities to volunteer. I will continue to give back to this community that has been so good to me. “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’”- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Michael 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.