By: Katherine Charney, JCWC AmeriCorps Riparian and Outreach Specialist
I had big shoes to fill stepping into my role as AmeriCorps Outreach Specialist. Prior to the initial shutdown in March 2020, my predecessor worked with multiple schools each week, sometimes one a day! Despite major challenges posed to the Council’s education program by Covid-19, I was still able to get outside and learn alongside a few groups of middle and high school students.
There were certainly challenges. Reduced group sizes often required more chaperones. Confluence Environmental Center expects. AmeriCorps members to pursue environmental justice by engaging underserved schools, but Portland Public Schools’ Covid-19 policy made this quite difficult. I was, however, able to work with David Douglas High School, both virtually (in the fall) and in-person (in May). In partnership with Portland Parks & Recreation and Friends of Trees, I planned and executed service learning field trips with non-traditional schools like Portland Waldorf and Sabin Schellenberg.
I helped lead eight outdoor events and engaged two school groups virtually, one on three separate occasions. I hope the relationships I’ve developed with schools and teachers will continue to grow after my term ends. I’m so grateful to the Council for everything I’ve learned and I hope next year’s AmeriCorps member is able to continue adapting this hybrid education model with greater success.