And just like that it’s December. With a quintessential southern mix of rain, lightning bugs, and humidity coupled with onboarding paperwork, trainings, graduations, etc. reflecting on 2019 kind of feels like a movie montage in my mind. So, let me Slow. It. Down. for a minute. Volunteering to write the intro to the December newsletter is enabling some reflection time. I choose this platform to give props and credit to the phenomenal programs SECC operated and the people that made it all happen.
With the clear understanding that everyone involved with SECC plays a key role in the success of a season, I will begin my appreciation circle with the acknowledgment of SECC corps members. Interns and crew members alike, thank you for being excellent stewards of SECC and continuing the legacy that alumni established for you. For many of you, you stepped outside of your comfort zones this year. You looked challenge in the eye and said, “bring it”. Whether you realize it or not your dedication and commitment to your term of service will positively impact you, the communities you served, and the landscapes you tended for the rest of your life. Thank you!
Between interns and crew members, SECC engaged 141 corps members in 2019 and awarded $121,469.75 of AmeriCorps education awards. Program models consisted of a 10-month Veteran Fire Corps (VFC) program serving the Southeast region, two American Sign Language Inclusion crews (ASLi), two Women’s Conservation Corps (WCC) crews, multiple youth and adult AmeriCorps crews serving across the Southeast region, and 25 interns. All told, in 2019 SECC members cleared over 60 miles of trail corridor, maintained 40 miles of firebreak, built 943 square feet of rock wall, and maintained 155 miles of trail.
To SECC staff, I couldn’t do it without you. Literally, I have tried and know it’s hard. I am so gratefully for the work you do. I have been fortunate to work with excellent SECC staff and VISTA’s over the past seven years and am continuously inspired by your passion for member development and land stewardship. This year SECC added positions to support operations, members, and programs and the positive impact of Matt, Lindsey, James, Natalia, and Erik is palpable on many levels. I am forever appreciative of each of you and can’t wait to crack open 2020.
To SECC partners, I am gratefully for your shared interest in engaging the next generation of land stewards. You see first hand the impact SECC members have on the lands you steward and conversely the impact the lands and projects have on the members. You are all a vital part of this wild ride known as a conservation corps and I couldn’t ask for better partners.
So, from members and leaders to staff to partners, high-fives! We collectively made a huge impact upon individuals and landscapes within the Southeast. I couldn’t think of a better mix of people work alongside and I wish you all a relaxing holiday season because we will be seeing each other again soon in 2020.