The Americorps Experience


Curious about what serving in our Americorps program is like? Want to meet our Americorps Members? Interested in hearing their stories and experiences? You've come to the right place.  This blog tries to capture the spirit of our Americorps Service Program through interviews and personal essays. 

OCF Wins National Award

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OCF Wins National Award

OUR CITY FOREST has received the 2016 National Excellence in AmeriCorps Programming and Service Award from the Corporation of National and Community Service (CNCS).  Just two organizations were selected nationwide to be honored.  The other organization selected was the Barbara Bush Literacy Foundation based in Houston, Texas.

The awards, given in honor of Senator Thomas R. Harkin, a long-time, tireless advocate for national service, were presented Sept. 22nd at the AmeriCorps State and National Symposium in Washington, D.C.   CNCS Executive Officer Wendy Spencer presented the award to Our City Forest representatives CEO Rhonda Berry and Urban Forestry Director Loren Klick.

In describing Our City Forest’s (OCF) accomplishments, Spencer pointed to OCF’s track record of serving San José residents with urban forestry programming, its state-of-the-art community tree nursery, and highlighted its latest program enhancement, Lawn Busters.  Through this lawn conversion effort, Spencer explained, OCF has helped low-income households, people with disabilities, senior citizens and veterans make significant water conservation strides as a result of transforming water-thirsty lawns to drought-tolerant gardens.

“It is humbling for Our City Forest to receive this national award,” said OCF’s Rhonda Berry.  “We applaud the selfless work of our staff, our service members and our thousands of volunteers who partner with us every day to grow a stronger, smarter, healthier San José.”

 

OCF’s Lawn Busters program expanded in 2015 as a result of a unique partnership with the City of San José, the Santa Clara Valley Water District, and AmeriCorps. The program has resulted in 2.4 million gallons of water saved in just the first year. OCF’s Community Nursery, located at 1000 Spring St. in S.J., was built in 2011 on a barren City parcel with the help of 1,000+ volunteers and funding from CalFire, AmeriCorps and the U.S. Forest Service. The nursery offers residents and agencies a wide selection of trees, shrubs, and plants suitable for planting in and around San José. 

 

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Chatting in the Nursery: A Q&A

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Chatting in the Nursery: A Q&A

Welcome back to The Americorps Experience Blog. Today we talk to Stuart Blackwell. Stuart is a grower in our community nursery and one of the principal organizers of the Spring Plant Sale. He is a native son of Virginia, and a deep, philosophical thinker. We hope you enjoy this interview. 

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A Robust Q&A with David Tull

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A Robust Q&A with David Tull

The Americorps Experience Blog collects stories, interviews, and anecdotes from the Americorps Members working with Our City Forest. Today we talk to David Tull. David is a Lawn Buster with Our City Forest and guest blogger for our other blog. As part of the Lawn Busters team, David replaces lawns with drought-friendly, native plant-dominated xeriscapes. David is longtime resident of the Bay Area, a father and a hilarious dry wit and . In this interview we talk about his life, the Lawn Busters as the Marine Corps and whether gravity really is a mysterious carriage to offset the deficits of the mind. 

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Real-Talk Q&A With Robert Castañeda

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Real-Talk Q&A With Robert Castañeda

The Americorps Experience Blog collects stories, interviews, and anecdotes from the Americorps Members working with Our City Forest. Today we talk to Robert Castañeda. Robert is a Planting Coordinator with Our City Forest. He organizes, arranges and executes large-scale community planting projects in the Silicon Valley. At plantings Robert can often be found with a pickaxe in his hand and a big smile on his face during planting demos. Robert is a gamer, a night owl IT guy, and bro-nerd who totally knows what Chemical X does.  In this interview we talk about what it takes to conduct a planting, reinventing yourself and the people make us want to leave the world a better place.

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A Cordial Q&A With Claire Dobson

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A Cordial Q&A With Claire Dobson

The Americorps Experience Blog collects stories, interviews, and anecdotes from the Americorps Members working with Our City Forest. Today we talk to Clair Dobson. Clair is the Coordinator of the Trees For All program, providing trees to low-income residents, senior citizens and veterans in neighborhoods disproportionately impacted by air pollution. Clair is an Ultimate Frisbee aficionado, aspiring archeologist and a super cool person. In this interview we talk about her background, upbringing, and what she’s doing with Americorps.

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What is Americorps?

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What is Americorps?

Over the course of a typical year at Our City Forest lots of things happen. Plant sales and Bare Roots at the nursery, Tree Amigo workshops, plantings at schools, pruning and outreach events dominate our calendar year. This January something special happened. A fresh class of Americorps members took their oaths of service, formally joining the team. It’s a good thing, injecting Our City Forest with new energy, fresh faces, perspectives and talent. What is Americorps? Who are the Americorps members? The answer is bigger than Our City Forest.

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