• Green Iowa AmeriCorps

Meet the 2022 summer members

Updated: Aug 2

Get to know some of the many members serving with Green Iowa AmeriCorps this summer! These 3-month members serve within one of the three branches: Land & Water Stewards, Energy & Community, or Sustainable Schools. We appreciate having them on board and getting things done throughout the state of Iowa!

 

Irvin Esau Alcaraz (He/Him/His)

Basic Facts:

  • Currently serving: Lakeside Labs, Land & Water Stewards

  • Found out about Green Iowa through: a University of Iowa professor

  • Graduated: Marshalltown High school

  • College and Major: Univ. of Iowa - Science in Environmental Planning

Questions:

Q: Why have you chosen to work with Green Iowa this summer?

A: I wanted to learn more about research and data collection and thought this location would get me a lot of connections with environmental groups.

Q: Most rewarding Green Iowa experience so far?

A: Meeting a group of friends and getting my scuba certification with them.

Q: One thing you’ve learned so far working with GIA?

A: There are a lot more components that go along with doing data collection and starting research projects.

Q: Best way to unwind after a long day of Green Iowa activities?

A: Sit on the dock.

Q: If you were an animal, what would you be?

A: Field mouse.

Q: Which of these outdoor beings do you fear encountering most?

Ticks Thistles Spiders A: Other: Parsnip

 

Miles Badie

Basic Facts:

  • Currently serving: Lakeside Labs, Land & Water Stewards

  • Found out about Green Iowa through: Research

  • Graduated from: Tucker High School

  • College and Major: Undecided



Questions:

Q: Why have you chosen to work with Green Iowa this summer?

A: It’s a good program and a great opportunity.

Q: Most rewarding Green Iowa experience so far?

A: Some base experience needed for the field I may or may not want to get into and the people/connections helping along the way.

Q: One thing you’ve learned so far working with GIA?

A: I learned how to take water and ground water samples, taken for locals who have asked Lakeside labs to do so.

Q: Favorite wild Iowa foods you’ve foraged for?

A: Mulberries.

Q: If you could go anywhere in the solar system (off-world) for a day, where would you go and why?

A: I like it here on Earth just fine :)

Q: Which choice best describes your sunscreen regimen?

I always bring my own I "borrow" somebody else's sunscreen

A ball cap is all I need A: Don't need it I like sunburns

 

Cecelia Darter (She/They)

Basic Facts:

  • Currently serving: Sustainable Dubuque, Energy & Community

  • Found out about Green Iowa through: a career fair at my school

  • Graduated from: Hempstead High Schools in Dubuque Iowa

  • College: Arizona State University

Questions:

Q: Why have you chosen to work with Green Iowa this Summer?

A: To get experience within the environmental field and learn about things I am passionate about.

Q: Most rewarding Green Iowa experience so far?

A: The Sustainability Fair.

Q: One thing you’ve learned so far working with Green Iowa?

A: I have learned that I enjoy doing things with a team and having people to work with.

Q: Favorite wild Iowa foods you’ve foraged for?

A: Morel mushrooms, black raspberries.

Q: Which choice best describes your sunscreen regimen?

A: I always bring my own I "borrow" somebody else's sunscreen

A ball cap is all I need Don't need it I like sunburns

Q: Best way to unwind after a long day of Green Iowa activities?

A: Sleep

 

Ashleigh Dierking (She/Her)

Basic Facts:

  • Currently serving: Sustainable Dubuque, Energy & Community

  • Found out about Green Iowa through: one of my coworkers at my college

  • Graduated from: Prairie Ridge

  • College and Major: Loras College, Social Work and Finance

Questions:

Q: Why have you chosen to work with Green Iowa this summer?

A: When interviewing, the position sounded similar to the internship I had at school but with more opportunities to build a relationship with the community.

Q: Most rewarding Green Iowa experience so far?

A: Serving at the Convivium has been wonderful because I have been able to see the garden grow with my efforts and I know that my work will be used to feed the community.

Q: One thing you’ve learned so far working with Green Iowa?

A: There are many organizations within the community that are working to improve life for everyone involved.

Q: Achievement you are most proud of and why?

A: The garden manager at the Convivium said the other summer member and I always get so much done when we volunteer and that he was grateful for us.

Q: Best way to unwind after a long day of Green Iowa activities?

A: I go to the community garden, grab what I need to make a snack and enjoy it on my front porch!

Q: Which of these outdoor beings do you fear encountering most?

Ticks A: Thistles Spiders

 

Landen Freeman (He/Him)

Basic Facts:

  • Currently serving: Davenport Community School District, Sustainable Schools.

  • Found out about Green Iowa through: My AP Biology teacher Laura McCreery got the information from the previous GIA site supervisor and passed it on to us students. I looked into it and here I am!

  • Graduating from: Davenport North High School

  • College and Major: I have hopes to go to Boston University to major in mathematics. But that dream rides on scholarship money- either way, I am pursuing a career in pure mathematics and academia.

Questions:

Q: Why have you chosen to work with Green Iowa this Summer?

A: I saw it as an opportunity to do research projects- something I both like to do and am very good at. I also determined that it would be a good way for me to make an impact in my community. Compared to the alternative of not applying and being jobless this summer, GIA seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Q: Most rewarding Green Iowa experience so far?

A: The most rewarding GIA experience so far has probably been the atmosphere of productivity that exists, both at DCSD and GIA. Every week we have a scheduled program call, and it's so inspiring and exciting to hear what everyone is working on. It's a really positive mood booster.

Q: One thing you’ve learned so far working with GIA?

A: Initiative, man, initiative. It's one of GIA's buzzwords, for good reason! In my service so far, I've learned that the only way anything will ever get done in the world is if someone- even just one person- takes initiative. Problems will never get solved if there aren't people willing to put in the groundwork for the solution. Oh no, your supervisor is out of town for a few weeks? Oh no, wifi is down? Take initiative, find a way to be productive, and get it done, rather than accepting one small hurdle as impossible to jump over.

Q: Which choice best describes your sunscreen regimen?

I always bring my own I "borrow" somebody else's sunscreen

A ball cap is all I need Don't need it A: I like sunburns

Q: Best way to unwind after a long day of Green Iowa activities?

A: When I come home after 6-8 hours of researching, emails, and writing letters, the first thing I do is lay down on my bed and stare at the ceiling. I throw on some soft lofi or jazz, and just process the day as slowly as I like. The rest of my evening is typically spent playing music or writing things for my various roleplay groups. The work is hard, but that makes the end of the day much easier to enjoy.

Q: If you could go anywhere in the solar system (off-world) for a day, where would you go and why?

A: Compared to Earth, many of our planets are fairly uniform and uninteresting. I would, however, be interested in approaching the black hole at the center of the Milky Way. Just to peer at it's grandeur and to physically observe it... if that's even physically possible!

 

Ingrid Gingerich (She/Her)

Basic Facts:

  • Currently serving: Matthew 25, Energy & Community

  • Found out about Green Iowa through: My roommate applied to work for AmeriCorps in the Rocky Mountains and I researched it and realized there was a branch of AmeriCorps in Iowa where I was returning for the summer!

  • Graduated from: Mid-Prairie High School

  • College and Major: Regis University, Philosophy


Questions:

Q: Why have you chosen to work with Green Iowa this Summer?

A: I wanted to explore a different type of hands-on service, as I have previously worked with nonprofits that deal with food service and distribution but never one that so fully tries to cater to the whole community. I think community building and fostering real relationships are so crucial to a person thriving, so when I found Matthew 25, I was excited by how they took care of the whole person.

Q: Most Rewarding Green Iowa Experience so far?

A: Working with high schoolers at the Cultivate Hope Urban Farm and seeing them start to blossom through that process. In the first days they were quiet and timid, but now I see them taking initiative and working together to do all sorts of projects.

Q: One thing you’ve learned so far working with Green Iowa?

A: Sometimes the most effective way to get something done is just going in person and talking to people. While emails and phone calls are great, they aren't always productive.

Q: Best way to unwind after a long day of Green Iowa activities?

A: Stopping by Dash Coffee and ordering a maple oat milk latte.

Q: A book you recommend for a summer read?

A: The Stranger by Albert Camus. This book will really get you thinking about what it means to be human, how we interact with each other, and why we do what we do.

Q: Favorite music to listen to while serving?

A: Any Harry Styles but especially Harry's House.

 

Mariah Hoeger (She/Her)

Basic Facts:

  • Currently serving: Sustainable Schools, Sustainable Schools

  • Found out about Green Iowa through: A job posting at my college

  • Graduated from: Western Dubuque

  • Secondary Education: Biology, Environmental Science






Questions:

Q: Why have you chosen to work with Green Iowa this summer?

A: I wanted to have something for my resume that would set me apart from other people, along with being able to volunteer in my community and learn more about the earth, which are two things I love dearly.

Q: Most rewarding Green Iowa experience so far?

A: I had a little girl at a camp I was helping at make me a card and it was so cute and melted my heart a little bit.

Q: One thing you’ve learned so far working with GIA?

A: There are more people in my community doing more for the community than I thought. There are more people in my hometown like me than I thought.

Q: Best way to unwind after a long day of Green Iowa activities?

A: Lay in my bed and relax, maybe read a book or watch TikTok, or hang out with the people I love.

Q: A book you would recommend for a summer read?

A: A Silent Patient, it was the last book I read after not reading for a long time and I was super into it.

Q: Which choice best represents your sunscreen regimen?

A: I always bring my own I "borrow" somebody else's sunscreen

A ball cap is all I need Don't need it I like sunburns

 

Nathan Hoffman (He/Him)

Basic Facts:

  • Currently serving: Center for Energy & Environmental Education, Energy & Community.

  • Found out about Green Iowa: When I participated in the sustainable backyard tours year ago.

  • Graduated from: Cedar Falls High School

  • College and Major: Grinnell College as a political science major

Questions:

Q: Why have you chosen to work with Green Iowa this summer?

A: I chose to serve so I had a productive outlet for my summer and to get some more experience with public service.

Q: Most rewarding Green Iowa experience so far?

A: I think helping with the sustainable Backyard Tour or working on houses with Habitat for Humanity have been the most rewarding experiences.

Q: One thing you’ve learned so far working with Green Iowa?

A: The biggest thing I learned was about future service opportunities after AmeriCorps that I might do after college. This was a direct result of the life after AmeriCorps call.

Q: Which of these outdoor beings do you fear encountering the most?

A: Ticks Thistles Spiders

Q: Favorite music to listen to while serving?

A: I really enjoy indie pop, rock and hip-hop.

Q: Achievement you are most proud of?

A: I am most proud of my ability to fix things that are broken. It's not one achievement, but it's certainly a practiced skill.

 

Jessie Joyner (She/Her)

Basic facts:

  • Currently serving: Northeast Iowa Community College-Calmar, Sustainable Schools.

  • Found out about Green Iowa through: Looking at job postings online!

  • Graduated from: Venice High School

  • College and Major: Florida Southern College '22 with a B.S. in Environmental Sciences

Questions:

Q: Why have you chosen to work with Green Iowa this summer?

A: I wanted to gain hands-on experience in the field after graduating and to see first hand how sustainable changes can be made at a local level.

Q: Most rewarding Green Iowa experience so far?

A: My most rewarding experience so far has been being able to sit in on the NICC Dairy Farm's meetings to work on their net zero climate action plan. It's so interesting to work through the process and see everything that goes into making sustainability a reality, as well as to collaborate with farmers that bring their own deep and personal knowledge of this topic. I've been learning so much from them and am really excited for the direction of the dairy farm!

Q: One thing you’ve learned so far working with GIA?

A: One thing I've learned so far is that the topic of sustainability and environmental science as a whole is very flexible. It's great to be immersed in it as a career, but it can also be integrated into every career and lifestyle. Sustainability/environmental science can be approached in many different ways and be adapted to best fit any career - it just takes collaboration and commitment!

Q: Favorite music to listen to while serving?

A: Recently, country!

Q: GIA Achievement you are most proud of and why?

A: I am most proud of the tree map I made for NICC campus because it is very detailed and covers all the different trees on campus (color coded of course!).

Q: Which GIA staff member would you like to shadow for a day and why? List of staff, for reference: Ashley Coffin, Carmen Finken, Leah Baethke, Shawn Fluckey, Brandy Case-Haub, Laura Mast.

A: I would like to shadow Brandy because she always seems to have a lot of fun and energy for the day!

 

Bea Kaskie (She/Her)

Basic Facts:

  • Currently serving: Iowa City Climate Action and Outreach, Energy & Community

  • Found out about Green Iowa through: classmates who served last summer.

  • Graduated from: Liberty High School

  • College and Major: University of Michigan, Environmental Sciences

Questions:

Q: Why have you chosen to work with Green Iowa this summer?

A: I wanted to establish my first professional experience in environmental sciences to be one that allowed me to explore my specific passions and the possibilities of the field by supporting fellow members in their projects.

Q: Most rewarding Green Iowa experience so far?

A: Being able to have so many diverse service opportunities! This summer I have never felt like I'm repeating the same work that I've done before. All the projects and activities I've helped with have been completely unique from the others and have shown me how many possibilities there are to implement sustainable community development.

Q: One thing you’ve learned so far working with Green Iowa?

A: It's been incredible to see how far passions can drive success! Witnessing fellow members explore their individual interests has taught me that not only can you find meaning in everything you do, but adding purpose to your efforts is one of the most important aspects of growth.

Q: Best way to unwind after a long day of Green Iowa activities?

A: With a good book in my hammock :)

Q: Favorite wild Iowa foods you’ve foraged for?

A: Puffball mushrooms.

Q: Favorite music to listen to while serving?

A: Paramore! Get pumped up!!

 


Ethan Kober (He/Him)

Basic Facts:

  • Currently serving: Center for Energy & Environmental Education, Land & Water Stewards.

  • Found out about Green Iowa through: a friend, shout out to Max Walker!

  • Graduated from: Cedar Falls High School.

  • College and Major: I will be a Junior at Luther College, studying English and Religion.

Questions:

Q: Why have you chosen to work with Green Iowa this summer?

A: I want to serve my community in a new way, specifically through conservation and hands-on work.

Q: Most rewarding Green Iowa experience so far?

A: Working weekly with Habitat for Humanity, I've gotten to meet some of the homebuyers, and I really feel like I'm making an impact in their lives.

Q: One thing you’ve learned so far working with GIA?

A: I have had to learn how to be flexible and adaptable in the workplace. Sometimes an event gets rained out and schedules change, but I've had to learn to roll with it.

Q: What summer drink best describes you?

A: Water, because it’s dependable.

Q: Favorite wild Iowa foods you've foraged for?

A: Wild ginger, morel mushrooms, fish, black raspberries, mulberries, puffball mushrooms.

Q: Which choice best describes your sunscreen regimen?

A: I always bring my own I "borrow" somebody else's sunscreen

A ball cap is all I need Don't need it I like sunburns

 

Lawson Morris (He/Him)

Basic Facts:

  • Currently serving: Oskaloosa-Mahaska Partnership, Land & Water Stewards

  • Found out about Green Iowa through: I found out through my dad, who works at the same university that our site is located in.

  • Graduated from: I'm entering my senior year at Oskaloosa High School.

  • College and Major: I haven't fully decided on a school yet, but I plan on studying environmental science.


Questions:

Q: Why have you chosen to work with Green Iowa this summer?

A: I've gained experience in my intended field of study and made connections in the community with people who have similar interests.

Q: Most rewarding Green Iowa experience so far?

A: Organizing the river cleanup for my PD project. It hasn't happened yet, but the experience has already felt rewarding.

Q: One thing you’ve learned so far working with GIA?

A: Things flow smoothly when everyone is on the same page. Communication is key to working and collaborating efficiently with the rest of your team.

Q: Favorite music to listen to while serving?

A: Whatever Bryan’s got on the speaker.

Q: Book you would recommend for a summer read?

A: Any Harry Potter book (but I'd start with the first one if it's your first time reading).

Q: If you could go anywhere in the solar system (off-world) for a day, where would you go?

A: Provided that I don't die due to lack of oxygen, I'd choose Saturn.

 

Megan Robinson (she/her)

Basic Facts:

  • Currently serving: Winneshiek Energy District, Energy & Community

  • Found out about Green Iowa through: A UNI department email about job opportunities.

  • Graduated from: Decorah High School

  • College and Major: University of Northern Iowa with a Political Science major




Questions:

Q: Why have you chosen to work with Green Iowa this summer?

A: I was looking for a summer internship that allowed me interaction with the federal government and found that I could do that while working in my hometown. Green Iowa allowed me to learn and gain experience in my area of study while continuing to help my community aim towards a cleaner future.

Q: Most rewarding Green Iowa experience so far?

A: I loved the experience of being an equal member of the team where everyone has the same end goal of bettering the community but with different approaches. I got to help everybody reach the end goal regardless if it is on audits, kids camp, presentations, or volunteering.

Q: One thing you’ve learned so far working with Green Iowa?

A: Everyone in a community has an idea of how to better themselves and those around you. Sometimes all that is needed is to find some like-minded volunteers and people will do work to bring their ideas to life. Everybody wants to help but many do not know where to start. GIA can be an easy nudge in the right direction.

Q: Best way to unwind after a long day of Green Iowa activities?

A: Rolling down the windows and blasting Fergie on the drive home.

Q: Favorite music to listen to while serving?

A: DnD campaigns.

Q: Which choice best describes your sunscreen regimen?

A: I always bring my own I "borrow" somebody else's sunscreen

A ball cap is all I need Don't need it I like sunburns

 

Elisa Senno (She/Her/Hers)

Basic Facts:

  • Currently serving: Clear Creek Amana, Sustainable Schools

  • Found out about Green Iowa through: Indeed

  • Graduated from: Marquette Catholic High School Alton, IL

  • College and Major: St. Ambrose University - Bachelors in Psychology, Bachelors in social work, Masters in social work.



Questions:

Q: Why have you chosen to work with Green Iowa this summer?

A: Resume building.

Q: Most rewarding Green Iowa experience so far?

A: Interacting with the kids.

Q: One thing you’ve learned so far working with Green Iowa?

A: Put yourself out there and make connections!

 

Knoa Snow (He/They)

Basic Facts:

  • Currently serving: Matthew 25, Energy and Community

  • Found out about Green Iowa through: job fair

  • Graduated from: Newbury Park High School, CA

  • College and Major: University of Minnesota Twin cities- Applied Economics

Questions:

Q: Why have you chosen to work with Green Iowa this summer?

A: To broaden my professional development in college.

Q: Most rewarding Green Iowa experience so far?

A: Making to go meals for the Cultivate hole corner store for making affordable and healthy meals.

Q: One thing you’ve learned so far working with GIA?

A: I learned anywhere can be a home for me if I choose to make it one. I have moved 3 times in the last 2 years and have been relatively optimistic always but after this experience I feel a lot better about how I will do with even bigger moves. So far CA-> MN -> IA.

Q: Favorite music to listen to while serving?

A: Spill Tab- they’re like a French Billie Eilish.

Q:Which choice best describes your sunscreen regimen?

I always bring my own I "borrow" somebody else's sunscreen

A: A ball cap is all I need Don't need it I like sunburns

Q: Favorite Tree?

A: Cherry Blossom

 

Walt Wagner-Hecht (No preferred pronouns)

Basic Facts:

  • Currently serving: Prairiewoods Franciscan Sprituality Center, Land & Water Stewards

  • Found out about Green Iowa through: looking for opportunities to work in nature in the Cedar Rapids area.

  • Graduated from: Kennedy High School and Iowa BIG

  • College and Major: Coe College

Questions:

Q: Why have you chosen to work with Green Iowa this summer?

A: It seems like a good way to spend a transitional summer while searching for what comes next.

Q: Most rewarding Green Iowa experience so far?

A: Working together with coworkers, friends, and Sisters to come up with ideas for mine and Emily's independent projects.

Q: One thing you’ve learned so far working with GIA?

A: I have learned several peoples' communication and learning styles and how best to interact with them as such.

Q: Favorite wild Iowa foods you’ve foraged for?

A: Mulberries and black raspberries.

Q: Favorite tree?

A: Fig tree.

Q: If you were an animal, what would you be?

A: Some other sort of primate; a lemur, gibbon, spider monkey, marmoset?

 

Sam White (She/Her)

Basic Facts:

  • Currently serving: Iowa City Climate Action, Energy & Community Team

  • Found out about Green Iowa through: Indeed listing.

  • Graduated from: Mount Vernon High School

  • College and Major: I am going to be a senior at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. I am a double major in Sustainability Studies and Political Science.


Questions:

Q: Why have you chosen to work with Green Iowa this summer?

A: I was looking for experience in environment related work, and Green Iowa was close to home.

Q: Most rewarding Green Iowa experience so far?

A: Working with children at Iowa City summer camps is very fulfilling. I like sharing my passion about the environment and trying to excite the kids about the world around them.

Q: One thing you’ve learned so far working with GIA?

A: I have a much better understanding of how challenging volunteer work is and have a lot more respect for non-profits than I had previously.

Q: Which of these outdoor beings do you fear encountering most?

A: Ticks Thistles Spiders

Q: Favorite music to listen to while serving?

A: DISCO

Q:Favorite tree?

A: Ginkgo

 

Special thanks to all of the summer members who responded to the get-to-know-you survey that led to this blog post!

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