Mid-Service Musings

Read about Juliet’s assessment of the AmeriCorps mid-service slump:

It’s hard to believe I’m just about halfway through my Energy Corps term. When I wrote the first draft of this blog, I started writing about how I was somehow avoiding the infamous “mid-service slump” that I had heard so much about. I realized after putting my thoughts down on paper, however, that I am, in fact, in a slump. But it’s not because of lack of things to do! Before I get into why I’m in a slump, let’s look at all the cool stuff I have going on:

The other week I had the opportunity to travel to Seattle for the first time to help with NWF’s exhibit at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. NWF has an AmeriCorps member in Seattle as well, so it was great to connect with her and see her education work in action. I was also able to attend an event where NWF’s resident naturalist and TV personality, David Mizejewski, spoke about gardening for wildlife. Part of my service involves outreach surrounding NWF’s Garden for Wildlife program, so it was awesome to hear someone with years of expertise talk about it. I could have never imagined that an AmeriCorps position in Montana would send me to Seattle, so I feel really lucky to have had this amazing learning experience.

With David Mizejewski in Seattle
             With David Mizejewski in Seattle

Since my return from Seattle, I’ve been preparing for my office’s first ever First Friday event on March 4th. On the first Friday of every month in Missoula, downtown businesses can hold art exhibits and welcome the public in to shop, admire local art, and enjoy free refreshments. Our First Friday opening will be an especially adorable one because it will feature artwork from the pre-k through first grade students at Clark Fork School, Montana’s first Eco-School.

Visiting with Students at Clark Fork School
    Visiting with Students at Clark Fork School

After First Friday, it’s on to Helena next week for our Energy Corps mid-service training and the ServeMontana symposium where we will have the opportunity to meet other AmeriCorps members serving in our host cities. After mid-service training, my term really picks up with a plethora of spring outreach opportunities and a trip to Bozeman for the Montana Environmental Education Association conference.

I can understand why many members hit a slump around this time in the service term; we are all trying to get as much accomplished as we can in a relatively short period of time, and that can be genuinely taxing. When you look at the seemingly slow (but steady) progress that you are making toward your program goals but also at all of the work you do on a day-to-day basis, it doesn’t seem to add up. It can feel like you are doing everything and nothing at the same time. Couple that anxiety with the stress that comes with having to start thinking about next steps after AmeriCorps, and it’s enough to make anyone have a minor existential crisis.

To put these worries at bay, I just need to remind myself that this is a unique opportunity to see a new place, learn invaluable skills, broaden both my social and professional circles, and hopefully leave a positive impact on the community along the way. Plus, I hear the beautiful wildflower blooms and Missoula’s perfect summer will make all of the hard days worthwhile.

Did I just talk myself out of the slump?

Juliet S.Juliet Slutzker received her B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Michigan in 2012 and earned an M.S. in Biology from Bowling Green State University in Ohio in May 2015, where she studied conservation of stream animal populations. As a Teaching Assistant she gained valuable experience in outdoor and environmental education. As the Sustainability and Habitat Educator with the National Wildlife Federation, Juliet’s primary duties are supporting existing member schools of the Eco-Schools USA program by recruiting and training volunteers, researching funding opportunities, and presenting resources on NWF’s education programs. Additionally, Juliet works to expand participation in the Missoula Community Wildlife Habitat Initiative and provide presentations, workshops, and outreach regarding the initiative.

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