Serving in the Appalachia CARES AmeriCorps program, sponsored by Clinch-Powell, in 2015 changed my life equally as much as thru hiking the entire Appalachian Trail in 2014. I found similarities between the service opportunities that AmeriCorps gave me and the lessons I learned through the AT. I contribute my ability to more easily integrate back into society after my thru hike to the opportunity to serve in AmeriCorps. Instead of trail miles, my AmeriCorps service involved learning about and teaching others about food miles. Much like the lessons I learned about the importance of trail maintenance as a way to steward our public spaces, I learned the importance of farmers in relation to our local economy. Similarly, I saw the connection between trail maintainers and farmers being that they are both job titles that are embraced by an aging population. Both seem to be dying crafts that we desperately needed to revive on a national level. One of the most important benefits I saw through my time as an AmeriCorps member was the chance to build relationships with people in Jonesborough and Greeneville, Tennessee. Since my service, I have been able to leverage this opportunity as an accomplishment that adds value to my resume. I truly believe that it makes me stand out as a candidate when approaching future employers. After my service, I went on to be the Tourism Coordinator for the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce. I am now currently serving as the Outdoor Development Manager for the Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership. What I love most about my job now is that I get to share my love of volunteerism, stewardship and the outdoors with my co-workers and the community at large. I look forward to finding a way to partner with Appalachia CARES AmeriCorps in the future to create an opportunity for someone else to see the positive impact service can have on their life.
Kayla Carter, AmeriCorps 2015 Alum, contributed this reflection on her time with the Appalachia CARES program and how it has contributed to Life After AmeriCorps. The photos show Kayla coordinating a trail build with her co-workers for a team building activity.