HURRICANE – A group of 11 volunteers from the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps arrived in Hurricane Nov. 7 to begin trail maintenance for the city of Hurricane. The group is currently improving the Quail Creek Hiking Trails around Quail Creek Reservoir and will be working in the area through Dec. 18.
The group was invited by D.J. Morisette of Over the Edge Sports, a bike and clothing shop in Hurricane. Morisette has a long-standing relationship with AmeriCorps, she said, and requested that the group come and work on the trails. So far the group has completed nearly 5 miles of trail work.
“I’ve actually worked with AmeriCorps teams for a long time,” Morisette said. “I started 10-15 years ago when I was in Brian Head and I would come down here for the summers. I have to say, for as far as getting thrown into a trail project, they definitely got thrown into one of the hardest ones right off the bat with all the rock and stuff. It’s a lot of work, so 5 miles of trails is pretty awesome.”
The Quail Creek Hiking Trails were originally built by Boy Scouts, and were built to be both walking and riding trails, Morisette said. However, without the expertise of experienced riders and trail builders, the Scouts were only able to do so much. Morisette, with the AmeriCorps group, have focused on making the trails more accessible to mountain bikes.
The group used as much of the original trails as they could, but a lot of the work they’ve done has been new construction. The new trails include two smaller loops and a larger loop.
The National Civilian Community Corps units engage 2,800 young Americans, ages 18-24, in a full-time, 10-month commitment to service each year. AmeriCorps NCCC groups address critical needs related to disasters, infrastructure improvement, environmental stewardship and conservation, and urban and rural development.
One of the team members, Lisa Schneider from Denver, Colorado, studied psychology and environmental science in school – good things to study, she said, but hard areas in which to find employment.
“I graduated from college in December,” Schneider said, “I thought this would be a really good transition out of college to kind of get more nonprofit and humanitarian skills as well as just meeting new people. I’ve been to Moab before, but I’ve never really stayed in Utah,” she said. “We’re really enjoying it. We go hiking all the time. The people here are really nice.”
Kevin Beebe, another member of the group, explains how young adults get involved with AmeriCorps. He said:
“We apply to be members of AmeriCorps. If we get selected, we get sent to a campus,Our campus is in Sacramento. We get assigned four projects over our 10 months of service. This is our first project of the year. We don’t choose the areas we work on, we get assigned to it. This round will be six weeks. We come from all over. In our group, or furthest west person is from San Diego, our furthest east person is from Maine.”
At the end of every AmeriCorps member’s term of service, participants can receive an “education award,” similar to a grant or scholarship. Participants can use the award to help pay for school or to pay off student loans. Each member can receive two consecutive awards, and can participate in the program up to three times.
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