AMES, Iowa – One volunteer experience can easily lead to another ... and another. That’s what 25 Iowa AmeriCorps members discovered as they were training for their new positions with this volunteer program that reaches across the state.
“Today we are sorting clothes at Youth and Shelter Services in Ames,” said AmeriCorps member Stephanie Conant. Her usual AmeriCorps experience involves working in Winneshiek County for the Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative (NIFF). But she was more than willing to organize clothes by size and age group during a Make a Difference Day community service effort this fall.
“There’s always something you can do, always something out there … how important it is to be involved,” Conant said.
AmeriCorps Make A Difference Day from Iowa State University Extension on Vimeo.
Conant applied for an AmeriCorps experience because “I’ve always been interested in health and food and farming, so I started looking for programs that might fit what I was interested in,” she explained. She coordinates a farm-to-school program in northeast Iowa, getting local foods into school cafeterias.
“AmeriCorps encourages people to be involved and helps them accomplish things for their communities,” said Judy McCarthy, with the Iowa AmeriCorps State of Promise program, part of the state and national AmeriCorps program. Conant’s AmeriCorps experience is coordinated through Iowa AmeriCorps State of Promise.
Iowa State University Extension 4-H Youth Development hosts the Iowa AmeriCorps State of Promise program in collaboration with Iowa’s Promise and the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service. These AmeriCorps members serve with youth development programs in communities across the state. For the 2010-2011 program year, 43 AmeriCorps members are working with youth in 23 sites.
McCarthy, who is ISU Extension’s director for the program, said AmeriCorps provides a wide range of experiences to match a variety of interests. Iowa AmeriCorps State of Promise members are volunteering with ISU Extension county educational programs, school districts, community recreation and family centers, community foundations, youth groups and shelters, and more.
“Three members conduct youth development programs at a community center serving economically distressed neighborhoods in Sioux City. Others are working with the Iowa Department of Human Rights to improve high school graduation rates of minority populations. Many others are involved in service learning projects in school districts,” McCarthy said.
Conant highly recommends AmeriCorps.
“Be a part of an organization that is helping communities become stronger, helping people who may not have a lot,” Conant said. “I think it’s really important to give back to the community that’s given you so much, and give back to the country that’s given you so much. I like the idea of being part of that movement.”
Learn more about Iowa AmeriCorps State of Promise at www.extension.iastate.edu/4h/Americorps/.
Laura Sternweis, Extension Communications and External Relations, 515-294-0775,