If you asked anyone on the Teton Science Schools’ (TSS) campuses to describe our AmeriCorps service members you might hear sentiments like…
“They keep us energized with their fresh ideas, keep us on our toes with their questions, and keep us humble through their service.”
“[They] are the catalytic agent in our community for collaboration, innovation, continuous improvement and a growth mindset.
“They inspire all of us to be better versions of ourselves and remind us of the great value of community service.”
“Without this collection of individuals who are by now spread all over the world, TSS would not be what it is today. Nor would TSS be what it needs to be tomorrow for the students that are lucky enough to interact with our amazing team of AmeriCorps members!”
“They are the ripple, man.”
“They provide amazing teaching and support, are the beating heart of the jackson campus imbuing it with vitality and community, and are a great bunch of homies!”
They’re an unmistakable force within the TSS organization and they’re making a huge impact, not only on their colleagues and students, but on the communities they touch here in Jackson and beyond.
This week (March 10-16, 2019) is AmeriCorps Week and it’s a celebration of all things AmeriCorps—“from the programs and organizations that make this national service initiative possible in thousands of locations, to the members who have pledged to “Get Things Done” since the program’s inception in 1994”—and so, alongside the other 75,000 AmeriCorps members serving across our country, we’re celebrating! But before we do, we thought we’d share a little bit about what AmeriCorps is and what serving as a member here at TSS is like.
What is AmeriCorps?
Put simply, the AmeriCorps program, like the military or Peace Corps, is another form of service to our country. Members join for a variety of reasons, but at the core, every member pledges to “make our people safer, stronger and healthier; to strengthen our communities; and to Get Things Done for America” for anywhere from three months to a year. Depending on their location and service provider, AmeriCorps members have opportunities to address critical community needs like “increasing academic achievement, mentoring youth, fighting poverty, sustaining national parks, preparing for natural disasters and more.”
What is AmeriCorps at TSS?
At TSS, AmeriCorps service members are actively engaged in growing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) literacy in the community. Why STEM literacy?
“By developing STEM literacy, we empower citizens to apply scientific knowledge, concepts and processes towards personal decision making, economic productivity and participation in civic and cultural affairs.”
Throughout their service tenure, members teach visiting school groups and develop and implement projects that are key to maintaining quality programming at TSS. They also choose a community partner organization at which to complete a capacity-building project that furthers STEM literacy within the community. Over the years, these capacity-building projects have included service such as:
- Creating website pages and content on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem for Harvard’s Encyclopedia of Life,
- Designing and enhancing curriculum and signage at Vertical Harvest to increase the public’s awareness on micro-greens and local food systems and,
- Developing activities and curriculum for the Teton Raptor Center to develop citizen science skill in raptor identification
Over the last ten years our 350 AmeriCorps service members have served 46 local non-profit and government organizations, more than 200,000 service hours with TSS and community organizations, and that’s something worth celebrating!
Take a look at some of our #MadeinAmeriCorps stories from the current AmeriCorps cohort below:
For my Americorps service, I am currently working with the Doug Coombs Foundation, helping to make outdoor activities more accessible to low-income Latinx youth and their families through mentorship, community-building and youth empowerment. Additionally, I am working with TSS to more fully and intentionally incorporate native narratives into our evening program curriculum, building more cultural competency within our field education team. I hope that, in some small way, my service helps to make outdoor education and outdoor recreation more accessible and inclusive to more and more people, slowly helping to level out some long-held and pervasive inequalities in the industry. So far, my experience has helped me to become a more empathetic, aware, and confident educator and community member, inspiring me to continue working for equality and inclusion in my communities.
About half of my time here [at TSS] is spent helping to lead place-based field education programs, whether with student groups or Road Scholar participants, and the other half is spent working on capacity-building projects. One of my capacity-building projects is working with the Girls Actively Participating (GAP!) program in town; it’s an after school program for elementary and middle school girls to promote confidence and community building. My other capacity-building project is creating a resource for planning and leading campfire programs at TSS. It is my hope through my AmeriCorps service to introduce ideas and create lesson plans that can continue to be used after my term here is over, as well as to inspire the younger generation to be excited about the outdoors and everything we can learn from it. I also hope I can help participants realize that all of our actions have consequences for the environment, and that we can all be stewards in our communities. I have learned a lot about this unique community we have here in Jackson throughout my time here, especially how intertwined ecology, economy, and culture are. I have also learned to look at teaching in a more student-centered, inquiry driven way. I hope to be able to draw on these takeaways in other future communities I am apart of.
Meet more of our current AmeriCorps members here.
Are you ready to serve in the Jackson Hole community through TSS AmeriCorps?
We’re currently hiring for Summer 2019.