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AmeriCorps Members Report on Their Summer Environmental Work

The 34 members of the Environmental Corps worked at 15 Rockland sites throughout the summer.

Members of the 2011 Rockland County AmeriCorps presented their summer environmental work to friends, family members, peers, elected officials and supervisors Thursday at Rockland Community College (RCC) in Suffern. More than 100 people attended the Final Project Presentation. 

“I think it went brilliantly,” said Kathy Galione, the project coordinator for Rockland County AmeriCorps. “This is probably the best out of all the years that we’ve had.” 

In its 11th year of existence, Rockland County AmeriCorps, a Rockland County Youth Bureau program, organized 34 Environmental Corps members for the summer. For the first time, the program was allowed to bring back third-year members, of which there were four. Six second-year members also returned. 

The members’ work focused on the environment at a variety of Rockland sites and was presented in varied forms, including PowerPoint presentations, videos, pictures, oral presentations, and informational documents.    

Steven Johnson and Monica Powell did a case study on recycling at RCC. In order to see how they could improve recycling at RCC, they decided to survey students on their recycling habits. Johnson and Powell found that convenient locations of recycling bins and knowledge of what to recycle were key elements toward compliance. 

“A case study has never been done before by any of the AmeriCorps members,” Galione said. “It’s research-based; it’s an excellent, excellent project.”   

Michael Rappolo did his project on the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail, a path that George Washington used during the Revolutionary War. Rappolo mapped out the trail in Rockland using Google Maps. 

Charles Pauyo, Matt Annesi, Alec Brodsky and Michael Johnson made a video showing how to safely replace a water bar, which is a construct made to prevent erosion. Sandra Hernandez worked at the Spring Valley Farmers Market where she helped with food stamp collection.  She also worked with a public health nutritionist to deliver information about nutrition programs in the area. 

“Since the health nutritionist could not speak Spanish, I was interpreting the whole time,” Hernandez said. “This was a very interesting experience, and I have made a lot of friends at the Spring Valley Farmers Market.”      

Lena Pafumi and Zamir Ben Dan’s work with the Clarkstown Planning Department involved easements, which have to do with property rights. Dan Schwartz and Jeff Schwartz documented outfalls and applied decals to catch basins. 

Other work sites included Rockland BOCES, Suffern Farmers Market, and Renew Rockland. 

Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef was one of many elected officials who addressed the AmeriCorps members.         

“You hear about all this Congress talk, about this and that and abandoning programs-one of the programs they want to get rid of is AmeriCorps,” he said. “And I don’t think they’ve ever seen this kind of program before. To be quite honest with you, I don’t think they’ve seen what happens when you send young people out to do good work- not only what the benefits are to the parks, to the places that you improve, and the simple things you did out there, but the advantages that you’ve learned and the benefits you’ve allowed to occur within your own self. I think you’re better people for it.”

After the presentations were completed, the AmeriCorps members contributed to an environmental expo in the hall outside the presentation room.   

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