Meet Our Member: Ashley Swasey, VINS
For Ashley Swasey, Environmental Educator at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS), "Every day is different, as is every season! Spring summer and fall are primarily geared to presenting live bird programs at the nature center in Quechee, VT but also taking our birds on the road to reach those who may not be able to reach us." Winter is geared more towards training of the birds, as well as program and exhibit development. Before coming to VINS, Ashley worked as a librarian, worked in environmental education, and volunteered on environmental, construction and education projects in Peru and New Zealand. When Ashley is not serving at VINS, she can be found enjoying the outdoors! "One of my favorite landscapes in the outdoors are waterfalls… swimming at the bottom of one on a hot summer day is perfection! I love to just get out, adventure and explore new places."
Why did you join VHCB AmeriCorps?
This position found me! I was working a seasonal position at VINS and learned about the Educator position. It just happened to be through VHCB AmeriCorps but I sure am glad it is! I am now in my second term of service at VINS with VHCB AmeriCorps.
What are you learning or gaining out of your service?
Much of my professional background includes teaching at residential outdoor schools. This position at VINS allows me learn how teach in a variety of settings to a variety of people. My public speaking skills have grown leaps and bounds so I can speak to a crowd of 250 people and not bat an eye. My second term has given me a lot more confidence in my leadership abilities, where as I am now a primary trainer for new staff and volunteers.
What has surprised you about serving in AmeriCorps?
The caliber and passion of the other VHCB AmeriCorps members. It has helped moving to a new state to have an immediate network, both professional and personal. The trainings have been great for me so that I can feed off of the energy and passion the other members bring. Even though we are spread throughout the state, we are still definitely a team.
What is the best thing about serving at your site?
It may go without saying, but it is definitely the birds. My human coworkers are great, but there are many-a-day where I will spend more time with my avian coworkers and I can not complain about that! Also, seeing the looks on people’s faces when they are able to interact with such awesome animals up close. It is a feeling and experience that can’t be beat.
What would you like other people to know about serving in AmeriCorps?
It is a fantastic opportunity. A lot of people may get turned off due to the seemingly low living allowance but there are so many other benefits, both tangible and not, that make it worth it. Really take a look at your situation, talk with previous members, and be willing to take a risk because I’m pretty sure you will not regret the experience.