By Tina Snell, Staff Writer
The National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), a division of AmeriCorps, has descended upon Camp Ripley to help in a variety of projects. The group of 11 individuals from around the country are also there to learn.
Harold Parsons, from Massachusetts, is the media representative for the group. He and his 10 cohorts have been together since February and the program continues through November.
“Since February, we have worked in Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, South and North Dakota and now Minnesota,” he said. “This job has got me out to see the country and has given me different skills for the future.”
Tim Notch, Camp Ripley’s training area coordinator, said the NCCC group has been great.
“They are flexible and offer no complaints on whatever jobs we give them, whether it’s the creation of trails or sorting and cleaning tools,” he said. “In fact, the entire program is excellent.”
Parsons said his team has worked on disaster relief, infrastructure improvement, rural and urban development and both environmental stewardship and energy conservation.
“We came to Camp Ripley to help with prescribed burning practices, but the fire ban halted that,” Parsons said. “We are now working with both The Nature Conservancy and Camp Ripley.”
With the local office of The Nature Conservancy, the NCCC has set up fire breaks on lands in Cushing, Spicer, Brainerd and near Collegeville. They have also worked to remove invasive species, such as buckthorn.
At Camp Ripley, the team helped build a trail for school field trips and has assisted in maintaining equipment such as chain saws, brush cutters and hand tools.
The group has also harvested Indian grass seeds and will be planting them in more barren areas of Camp Ripley.
“I learned about NCCC through a friend,” said Parsons. “Besides this group, there are two other divisions of AmeriCorps. They include Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) and the State and National division.”
Each of the members receive a small stipend for their living expenses, but at the end of their 10 months with AmeriCorps, they receive $5,500 towards future educational purposes.
Emily Ostroff, also from Massachusetts, is in her third year with AmeriCorps and said she is loving the full-time services.
“This is a great program for those people who are not sure what they want to do after high school or college,” said the team leader. “I am passionate about using service to get young people civically engaged. The life skills we learn are transferable to anything we decide to do.”
For more information about AmeriCorps and its programs, go to www.ameri