A day in the life of a WCC AmeriCorps member

Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) is seeking young adults ages 18-25 and military veterans for six-month positions on our crews across the state! The WCC, an AmeriCorps program run by Ecology, provides opportunities for young adults and veterans to gain hands-on environmental experience, field skills, formal training and funds for education. But don’t take it from us! Learn what a WCC position is like from our current WCC AmeriCorps member Steven Quick:
Four WCC AmeriCorps members carry large trash bags full of bareroot plants through a pathway.

My first few months in WCC

I’ve been interested in Washington Conservation Corps positions for a long time. WCC seemed like a great opportunity to be outdoors, learn about environmental careers and grow professionally. So, late last year I was thrilled by the opportunity to join a spike crew supervised by Junior Fuimaono as a 12-month WCC AmeriCorps member. So far, we have served mostly on planting and wetland rehabilitation projects for Dash Point, the city of DuPont and the city of Orting. We’ve also participated in eight-day service spikes for the Kitsap Conservation District (KCD).

WCC member wearing a blue shirt pulls blackberry roots out of the grown. She is wearing protective gloves.

Wait, what is a “spike?”

There are a number of different WCC crews throughout Washington state. A spike crew is intended to support short-term projects where a sponsor needs extra hands on deck or fill in if the normal crew is deployed on disaster response.
We’ve only spiked at KCD so far, planting tree plugs and live stakes. During spikes we are allotted money for meals, and lodging is arranged by the WCC program. During our KCD spikes we stayed at a local, family-owned inn in Poulsbo that offered breakfast every morning. I’m told the experience will be a lot different when we spike at places like Mt. Adams or Mt. Rainier as we’re likely to be roughing it in the backcountry.

What’s a typical week like? 

For every spike week so far, we arrive at our crew base in Tacoma at 7 a.m. like any other day and pack up the truck with tools based on what services we’ll be providing (planting, falling trees, etc). Tools could include a chainsaw, Pulaskis, rock bars, stake pounders, loppers and shovels. Then we head out to the project site together in a WCC truck to meet the sponsor, put in a good day’s worth of service, and get groceries before checking into the hotel or other lodging accommodations for the evening. I like to try to enjoy the local scenery or art if possible after a day in the field, but the crew normally brings a board game or something that occupies our time as well.
The services we undertake in the city are just as valuable to our personal enrichment as our spike assignments. Serving in the city of DuPont was an extremely enlightening week because it was the first week of the crew year, and it broke every single standard I had set. It was something to get used to, considering I’ve never had a position this laborious, but I adapted quickly. It was fun to mingle with other public service workers, make connections and create relationships for the future. Junior said on our first day, “Treat these people well, they could be your future employers.” After meeting so many different people through the projects we’ve accomplished, I’m already delighted by the idea of working with them more one day!

What else does the program offer?

I’ll never forget orientation week at Cispus Learning Center. It was a tremendous learning experience and a great chance to meet hundreds of other WCC AmeriCorps members from all walks of life. Orientation training involved a four-day spike week in the woods near Mt. Rainier, where we received the rundown on AmeriCorps expectations and attended additional courses to prepare us for our year in the WCC.
Split image: on the left, members stand in a line on the trail. On the right: a member carries a tall stack of empty plant pots.
We go back to Cispus Learning Center again in March and June for extracurricular training courses on environmental topics for resume enrichment, which everyone is really excited for. Orientation, though, was particularly fascinating to me because of the sheer diversity of people and the chance to network and hear ideas.

WCC is already teaching me lessons for life

Ultimately, the lesson I’ve learned during my application process and over the last three months is to prepare and persevere. My supervisor, Junior, told me to take advantage of the networking opportunities this position offers. I encourage prospective applicants to do the same, even if they haven’t been interviewed yet. Find someone willing to share about the program and answer your questions!
Before WCC, I met two corps members that offered their recommendation, I spent time researching online to piece together what the next year would look like, and I spoke to people about what else I could do to put my best foot forward. I volunteered, wrote and researched. I think anyone can really grow in this program; it is what you make of it.

Four WCC members stand along a barbed-wire fence in a remote area with rolling hills.

Do you want to help the environment, meet great people and make a real difference? Join Ecology's Washington Conservation Corps, an AmeriCorps Program consisting of three subprograms: the core WCC, Veteran Conservation Corps and Puget SoundCorps.
See photos of the types of projects WCC members support during their service in our WCC Projects Flickr set and WCC Featured Projects Story Map. Learn more and apply online today to become a member of WCC: ecology.wa.gov/wcc