AmeriCorps Kids

Christine Smith, left, and Maris Wilson are ending their two-year AmeriCorps service programs with this week’s Twin Lakes Campout for youth ages 12 to 17 years old. The pair have been ‘the best of the best’ during their time with Umpqua Watersheds.

Umpqua Watersheds’ education program will host a Twin Lakes Campout from Friday to Sunday, which coincides with a goodbye to AmeriCorps members Christine Smith and Maris Wilson.

Smith and Wilson have been with Umpqua Watersheds for two years and enjoyed some time off at last Saturday’s 33rd annual River Appreciation Day at Whistler’s Bend Park.

“They’ve been celebrating us this week and it’s so thoughtful,” Smith said.

Wilson added: “We keep trying to join in and help out, but they tell us to just relax this week.”

Ron Perkins, who set up a tapestry booth for New Earth Creations, said he came to the festival to appreciate nature, listen to music and dance.

“It’s about being good stewards of the land. That’s what they’re doing here,” he said. “I appreciate the river and what God has given us.”

Umpqua Watersheds organized the event, which also included a booth from Douglas County Parks Advisory Resource Committee, Wrappin’ and Rollin’ food truck, a lemonade stand, an arts area, and water-bottle refill station. There were several live performances throughout the seven-hour event.

Umpqua Watersheds was started in 1995 and uses AmeriCorps members to help with the education program.

“We’ve had the best of the best,” Umpqua Watersheds Executive Director Kasey Hovik said. “We try to get the young people in.”

United Communities AmeriCorps Program Director Jordan Jungwirth said: “Both Maris and Christine have a knack for engaging students in their own curiosity about the natural world and environment, building connections and community with volunteers at events like their MLK Jr. Day river clean up, and even volunteering throughout Roseburg in addition to their full-time 40 hr/week service position with Umpqua Watersheds.”

Smith and Wilson worked on education and volunteer outreach during their time, getting new partners and helping work in gardens and in natural resources at schools.

During the 2018-2019 program year, which is about to come to an end, there were 11 AmeriCorps members serving 11-month, 1,700-hour service programs, three AmeriCorps members serving six-month, 900-hour service program, three members in the 300-hour Summer of Service program who worked throughout Douglas County. Jungwirth said there were 24 members enrolled in programs throughout Southern Oregon, which includes Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, Curry and Coos counties.

“Individuals apply to serve in United Communities AmeriCorps by applying to a specific AmeriCorps project that interested them,” Jungwirth said. “United Communities AmeriCorps projects improve access to educational opportunities, mentoring, job skills development, employment resources, financial stability, health and nutrition resources, among many others. Our AmeriCorps members serve in their dedicated service project and host site.”

Smith came to Roseburg from Southern California. Wilson originally hails from Pennsylvania.

“I really wanted a different type of environment. This seemed like a great opportunity,” Wilson said. “The Pacific Northwest is a great place to be.”

The Twin Lake Campout will be their last big trip for children between 12 and 17 years old.

The duo said they were worried about how few activities were scheduled during the campout but quickly realized that not jam-packing the schedule created chances for the teens to explore the wilderness on their own.

“They get to be a part of it and explore at their own pace,” Wilson said.

Sanne Godfrey can be reached at sgodfrey@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4203. Follow her on Twitter @sannegodfrey.

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Education Reporter

Sanne Godfrey is the education reporter for The News-Review.

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