Isabelle graduated from The University of Alabama in Huntsville in Spring 2020 when the country descended into pandemic chaos. Her last few weeks of undergrad were completed online back at home with no graduation ceremony at the end of it all. She had been accepted for an internship at The Florida Institute of Technology, looking into membrane proteins potentially involved in signal transduction at fertilization in starfish. Due to the pandemic, this internship also had to be done from home. Isabelle really enjoyed this experience and the opportunity to dive into a world of genetics that she was not too familiar with. However, after the internship came to an end she knew she needed a change of pace from online work. Isabelle had a BS in Earth System Science, with a concentration in Human Dimensions and Societal Impacts, and knew she wanted to do some meaningful work that would help not only people, but the natural world we rely so heavily on. This is when she came across opportunities working with AmeriCorps.
Isabelle had not heard of the AmeriCorps programs prior to this, but after browsing their website and seeing their dedication to service, it seemed like a perfect fit. She performed her service through a non-profit organization called Conservation Legacy, under their North Carolina branch, and accepted a position as a trail crew member for the fall season. Isabelle became part of a crew of 5 other women living in Linville, North Carolina, restoring popular hiking trails off the Blue Ridge Parkway. It would be the first time she lived somewhere other than Madison, Alabama and the first time she would spend longer than a night camping in a tent. 2020 seemed like the perfect year to try something so adventurous.
On the trails, her crew worked on drainage routes to prevent erosion, building steps where necessary with logs or rocks, and building retaining walls. These tasks aimed to increase the sustainability of these trails as well as provide the most enjoyable experience for hikers. The work was hard and the days were long, especially sleeping in a tent during at the end of the day, but it was so rewarding for Isabelle to see the immediate difference their labor was having on these trails and the people using them. The best part was the interactions with people, including both those she worked with and those visiting the trails that would ask the crew questions and thank them for their work.
This experience further instilled in her the importance of appreciating and interacting well with our environment. Isabelle experienced how much planning, preparing, and physical labor goes into maintaining and restoring our natural resources, and it made her want to learn more. Through this MNR program at Auburn, Isabelle hopes to increase her knowledge and skills in how to best look after our natural world, as well as build connections with professionals in the natural resource management career field. She aspires to work with a company or organization dedicated to the restoration and sustainability of our ecosystems, potentially in a conservation planning, community development, or adaptive management context. Isabelle would highly recommend joining AmeriCorps, where she built life-long friendships and experienced meaningful on-the-ground work in sustainability and natural resource management. If you have any questions about AmeriCorps, don’t hesitate to reach out to her via email.