Green Iowa Summer Members 2021

Updated: Aug 3

Meet some of our marvelous Summer Members of 2021!

Green Iowa AmeriCorps is made up of three branches, Energy & Community, Sustainable Schools, and Land & Water Stewards, to assist different organizations and communities. From May to August, we welcome additional 3-month term members to amp up our efforts across the state of Iowa!

Nikayla Hoffman, Land & Water Stewards, CEEE

I am serving Green Iowa AmeriCorps through the Land & Water Stewards branch housed at University Northern Iowa (UNI) in the Center for Energy & Environmental Education. I discovered Green Iowa from some emails sent to me from various departments at UNI. After looking into the branches at Green Iowa, I knew I had to apply; it incorporates sustainability practices, community and education outreach, and several conservation efforts I am interested in learning more about. I'm probably most excited about our water sustainability projects such as rain barrel installation and events and surveying for/installing rain gardens. I am currently a student at the UNI with a major in History and minor in Creative Writing. While my degree may appear to have a disconnect to GIA, it doesn't. It's important to research the past of environmentalism to discover what has and has not worked. Writing about sustainability, environmentalism, and the Climate Crisis in a way that moves people and inspires them to help our Earth is one of the many key roles in bringing forth change.

Kara Grady, Land & Water Stewards, CEEE

I'm a recent graduate from Iowa State University with two degrees in environmental science and environmental studies. I was drawn to Green Iowa AmeriCorps (GIA) because I love my home state and want to see it thrive in a sustainable manner. My favorite parts of GIA so far are the Garden in Every Lot program (GEL) and how I'm able to pick my own events to participate in each week (this summer is definitely a choose-your-own-adventure)! Fun facts about me: I'm an identical quadruplet, I love to read and write, and I also have my own podcast. I'm hopeful that I can move on to a full term with GIA as part of the Practical Farmer's of Iowa program in Ames.

Nick Newman, Energy & Community, Matthew 25

I am a Green Iowa summer member working with Matthew 25 in Cedar Rapids. Currently, I am focused on helping our community develop food security through local agriculture and sustainable food systems like those at the urban farm, pantry, and pay-it-forward café. Although I grew up in California, I changed coasts to enroll at Dartmouth College where I studied signal processing and medical device design. After college, I joined the Peace Corps and spent two years teaching math and physics in Guinea. That’s where I first started engaging with food security and agriculture projects and decided to commit to working in this sector! So, I’m very excited about the opportunity to work with the initiatives here at Matthew 25 and start some summer projects myself, such as food processing trainings, garden trainings, and interviews with immigrant gardeners about their experiences. In my free time, I like reading, surfing, and long-distance hiking!

Cole Carolan, Land & Water Stewards, CEEE

I'm a University of Northern Iowa (UNI) senior studying English education, and this summer I'm looking forward to working with the Land & Water Stewards here in Cedar Falls. As far as what brought me to the program... I'm not exactly thrilled with The Way Things Are, and I wanted to do something about it. I don't think any one program or me putting my back into something is going to drastically change the world, but if it might make just a little change in a small place or mind then I'll have done something for my corner of the sky, and that's plenty for me. I appreciate the little things; light cutting through a canopy, a stream over stone, stories carried away on wind both as impermanent and constant as I. Oh, and if you couldn't tell, I have an intense fondness for words and the worlds within.

Bhoomika Shettigar, Sustainable Schools, Waste Trac

I'm serving with Sustainable Schools at the Waste Trac in Cedar Falls/Waterloo. I heard about Green Iowa AmeriCorps through a friend and I'm so glad I applied! I'm excited to hang out with kids at education events, especially little kids. I'm also excited to learn how to be more sustainable in my everyday life! I play the violin and really like drinking boba. I'm from Cedar Falls so it's great to be serving my community. I'm also a high school senior who's not excited about college apps. Can't wait to see what this summer has in store for us!

Bailie Bautch, Land & Water Stewards, TPC

I'm from Eau Claire, WI. I just graduated from Drake University with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science with a concentration in Biological Conservation and a minor in Vocal Performance. I'm serving at the Tallgrass Prairie Center in Cedar Falls, IA this summer. I wanted to come to Green Iowa AmeriCorps because I thought it would be an amazing opportunity to gain experience and knowledge in the field of Environmental Science. I'm excited to do surveying, research, and learn more about plant identification and botany while here.

Alayna Vantiger, Land & Water Stewards, CEEE

I work with the Land & Water Stewards. I stumbled onto AmeriCorps by chance actually. I had just decided to extend my education at the University of Northern Iowa, and I was searching for summer jobs in the area when the posting for the summer position appeared on my screen. Green Iowa AmeriCorps seemed like something I would genuinely enjoy because it involved working outside and could provide various means of serving my community. So, I applied, despite the fact that my education has nothing to do with biology or environmental studies. As it turns out, my history in agricultural settings offers a bit more insight into sustainable practices than I had realized it would! Even though I am only about a week and a half into my service term I genuinely love the volunteering tasks and the overall character of the program. Working as a part of the Green Iowa team is definitely an experience I would recommend to anybody searching for a good opportunity to accumulate some knowledge and build some professional skills.

Tucker Diveley, Land & Water Stewards, Lakeside Laboratories

I am currently serving as a Land & Water Steward at Lakeside Laboratories. This is my first internship that has an environmental focus and a place where I can actually use skills learned from the University of Vermont as I pursue my environmental science degree. I was brought here thanks to my academic advisor, Mindy Morales, who used to work at Lakeside while she pursued her Ph.D. While here at Lakeside Labs, I hope to pursue independent projects on water quality that could potentially influence local government policy. It will be a new experience for me completely designing my own project and bringing all the parts together. This is just one of the many skills I hope to gain while I am here at Lakeside and hopefully become certified in other field techniques like pesticide application and prairie burns. When I'm not trying to improve our environment, I like to do any water related activities: fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and swimming. I am also an avid hiker and backpacker. Vermont is a prime location to be in for both hiking and backpacking. A recent hobby I have picked up during the pandemic was disc golfing which I hope to continue into the future.

Caroline Mascardo, Sustainable Schools, Clear Creek Amana SD

I am a rising senior at West High currently serving as a Sustainable Schools member in the Clear Creek Amana School District. Earlier this year, I worked with GIA member Lisa Stark on a single-stream waste initiative in the Iowa City Community School District. I am looking forward to doing translation work, managing CCA social media coverage, and getting outside this summer. When I'm not working on Green Iowa AmeriCorps projects, you can probably find me playing tennis, creating unnecessary Spotify playlists, or perfecting my mad graphic design skills.

Jace Bell, Land & Water Stewards, Trees Forever

I am serving at Trees Forever in Cedar Rapids where work with other Green Iowa AmeriCorps members and teenagers in the community to take care of the trees planted following the devastating derecho last August. Having grown up outside of Cedar Rapids and experiencing the destruction of the derecho at home, I am excited to help the Cedar Rapids community recover from the loss of trees and bring community members together with the restoration efforts. My major in environmental science at the University of Northern Iowa has led me to this program that allows me to use my passion for serving others and our planet to make a difference in people's lives. I am eager to learn more about conservation and the environmental sciences during my summer term with Trees Forever and hope that I can take this knowledge with me in my future career.

Rylie DeWitt, Energy & Community, Matthew 25

I am serving under the energy and community branch of Green Iowa AmeriCorps at Matthew 25 in Cedar Rapids. I was brought to Green Iowa because I got an email from a public health staff member at the University of Iowa about this awesome opportunity, and I decided to go for it. I am super excited to dive into the neighborhood rehabilitation programs here at Matthew 25. I am especially excited for "Transform Week" and "Healthy Timecheck." I am going into my fourth year at the University of Iowa's College of Public Health, so I am super excited to be able to use that knowledge and apply it to the work here at Matthew 25. I will be starting my last year of undergrad and my first year of graduate school in the Fall as a part of the undergraduate to graduate program in Community and Behavioral Health, so I am very excited for that!

Clare Willey, Land & Water Stewards, CEEE

I am currently a summer member serving at the Center for Energy & Environmental Education in Cedar Falls with the Land & Water Stewards team. I will be beginning my second year of graduate school in the fall for my Masters in Public Health on the Occupational and Environmental Health track. I heard about Green Iowa AmeriCorps through my college and was interested in the experience due to the emphasis on service and the environment. I am excited to work outside this summer and learn a lot!

Piper Wood, Energy & Community, Winneshiek Energy District

I recently graduated from Luther College, where I studied Environmental and International Studies and worked in our College Center for Sustainable Communities. I was drawn to this position with Green Iowa AmeriCorps because I feel connected to this Northeast Iowa community, and I want to assist folks in building community resilience by making renewable energy choices accessible to all Northeast Iowans. I have enjoyed the in-person audits that we have been a part of so far, and I am having a great time working with the community through our local partnerships with the Community Butterfly Garden and the Decorah Food Pantry.

Leah Rietz, Sustainable Schools, Clear Creek Amana SD

I grew up in Iowa City and graduated from Iowa City West High School in 2020. I currently attend the University of Wisconsin- Madison where I am studying Materials Science and Engineering. I joined AmeriCorps to be hands-on and proactive in my environmental advocacy and education. I am really excited to be working on plans for Clear Creek Amana School District's composting program as well as learning greenhouse gas reporting software so I can complete their greenhouse gas reports.

Eden Grimes, Sustainable Schools, Iowa City SD

I am from North Liberty, Iowa and recently graduated from Liberty High School. I was brought to Green Iowa AmeriCorps after my current team members Meg and Lisa visited my french class as a part of our environmentalism unit. We learned about the roles of AmeriCorps Members locally and it really inspired me to apply for the position! I am really excited to go on field trips with my team to discover new things about our local Iowan prairie. Every experience in Green Iowa AmeriCorps has been so valuable to me as a recent high school graduate and helped me develop skills in leadership, team building, and communication.

Emma Sliwinksi, Sustainable Schools, Cedar Falls Community SD

I just graduated from Cedar Falls High School and I'll be starting college at Northwestern University in the fall. I joined Green Iowa AmeriCorps because I'm interested in sustainability, and a job that allowed me to be involved with that sounded really cool. Plus, working with AmeriCorps seemed like a great way to make a difference in my community. I'm excited to get involved with education events, especially with kids, and to learn more about environmental stewardship while working with Green Iowa!

Abigayle Sweet, Land & Water Steward, William Penn University

I will be a senior at William Penn University studying conservation biology. The sense of urgency to make the planet healthier attracted me to Green Iowa AmeriCorps and ultimately resulted in becoming a member. I have recently found a passion for water conservation and finding solutions to the problems we face as a society regarding polluted water. Clean water is vital for community health and environmental health. I am so excited to bring awareness to this field of concern and make the planet healthier one day at a time!

Thank you to all of our Summer Members for 2021!


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