Wednesday, February 21

All Americorps Gathering

Earlier this week the Billings MCC crew (that's me and my crew) headed to the state capital, Helena, to join the rest of the Montana Conservation Crews around the state and all of the Americorps volunteers instate. The gathering was a great way to gain perspective of how many folks are volunteering with Americorps in Montana and what their jobs entail. We spent three days in Helena getting to know the other MCC volunteers, learning more about Americorps, touring the state capital building, meeting senators, representatives, and the governor, listening to a variety of speakers, doing a service project in the city, and taking leadership classes.

I had a great time branching out from my "Billings crew" and meeting other interesting people. I quickly discovered that I was not the only Appalachian Trail alumni working for the MCC. There were three former AT thru-hikers on the Missoula Crew, and one on the Great Falls Crew. I talked with many young people who were excited to learn more about the trail and who were, themselves, thinking of thru-hiking in the future. A fun group of people.

Today we worked in the Billings office and tool cache, performing inventory duties and running errands. Josh and I were assigned the tent inventory. It didn't take long to figure out tent inventory was entirely frustrating and not the least bit fun. It took us a few hours to unpack all of the tents, check for holes and other damages, look for matching poles, and the correct number of stakes. At least half of the tents we checked were missing parts or were damaged in some way.

Tomorrow we are heading to Red Lodge (a town near the Beartooth Mts.) to volunteer at a Nature Center that houses animals that have been hurt in some way and cannot return to the wild.