There it was; that bold “A” offset by a white circle with jagged edges, itself surrounded by a black ring that contains the words, “AmeriCorps” across the top, and has a red, white and blue flag with one star on the left.
I was handed an Energy Corps sweatshirt and t-shirt with that circular emblem on it after my first day of orientation. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized how significant that logo has been to me for going on 5 years now.
I have seen that emblem on the shoulders of the role models I most admire– the people who taught me how to use hand tools, live out of a tent for a month and cook over a whisper light stove while doing trail crew with the Student Conservation Association during summers in high school. I had seen the logo on my crew leaders’ coffee mugs that, once set down, were instantly covered with slugs. I had heard the name “AmeriCorps” mentioned in the life stories of the young professionals I look up to and have sought advice from. It wasn’t until I was given my very own AmeriCorps gear that I fully understood the pride that comes along with being part of such a legacy of service.
Almost a month into my Energy Corps service now, I see that I made the right choice to follow in the footsteps of the leaders who had such a hand in my development. A generalist by nature, I am glad to find that my unique role at the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) allows me to dip my fingers into multiple pots at once while helping to further the organizations mission. I am helping to organize and finalize the trainings that the staff at NCAT has led in recent years so that NCAT may offer sustainable agriculture and energy efficiency education on a regular basis. I also have the privilege of helping to coordinate the steering committee of the Harvesting Clean Energy Conference scheduled for this coming February. Finally, I will round out my work by putting together presentations on energy efficiency issues of my choice as a third component of my service.
One of the aspects of the AmeriCorps program I appreciate the most is that it encourages its members to practice good citizenship. I enjoyed serving alongside fellow Energy Corps members and members of the wider AmeriCorps community at the Food Bank on September 11th as part of a National Day of Service. It was an uplifting way to commemorate a momentous date in our nation’s history.
I have always felt compelled to volunteer and in recent years have become accustomed to getting involved at a city governance level where I lived before. I am pleased that I hardly had to ask to get plugged into similar amenities in my new surroundings. I have found no lack of resources to explore in pursuit of my interest in community sustainability and transportation. My favorite part of my service so far may be meeting people who have already begun to lay the foundation for community projects I’m interested in; such as the Uptown Butte Revitalization and the Complete Streets Initiative. It seems as though where there is the desire to serve and learn, there is a way with AmeriCorps and I could not be more excited to see how I am able to make the most of those opportunities throughout the remainder of my service.
Emily Caponi earned her bachelor’s degree in environmental studies in 2013 after just three years at the University of Montana. During that time she completed an internship at the Department of the Interior in Washington, DC as well as lived and worked at the University of Montana Forum for Living with Appropriate Technology during her final year. During her term of service, Emily will be providing hands-on energy efficiency and alternative energy assistance, education and outreach to underserved Montana communities. She will also form energy action networks to develop sustainable strategic energy plans.