AmeriCorps Provides Land Steward For Harwich And Chatham

By: William F. Galvin

Emma Forbes of AmeriCorps Cape Cod will be working with local land steward organizations in Harwich and Chatham. COURTESY PHOTO

HARWICH — For the next 10 months, AmeriCorps Cape Cod volunteer Emma Forbes will provide assistance to land stewards in Chatham and Harwich. Forbes will be working with the Harwich Conservation Trust and Chatham Conservation Foundation as well as with the local conservation department.

Harwich Conservation Trust Executive Director Michael Lach has praised the working relationship between AmeriCorps Cape Cod and the local trusts and conservation departments across the Cape for assisting with environmental enhancements and disaster preparedness needs. AmeriCorps has been providing assistance to local towns for the past 18 years.

Forbes will be working with the Harwich Conservation Trust on Tuesdays, the Harwich Conservation Department on Wednesdays and the Chatham Conservation Trust on Thursdays. Her project initiative is entitled “Furthering and Prioritizing Land Stewardship Efforts in Harwich and Chatham.”

Lach said that in the spirit of the Harwich-Chatham collaboration, Forbes' title will be the Monomoy Conservation Land Steward. The trusts are focusing on shaping a land management program for the former 17-acre Marini property purchased by HCT, of which 14 acres are in Harwich and three acres in Chatham. The town of Harwich holds a conservation restriction on the property.

Lach said that the trusts are excited to have Forbes join their team because of her well rounded background. Originally from Farmington Hills, Mich., she recently graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor of science degree in earth and environmental sciences and a minor in geology. During a study abroad semester in Scotland, Forbes was exposed to the rich geological history of that country, which solidified her interest in geology and environmental field work.

When considering post graduate plans, Forbes began searching for opportunities that would allow her to make a tangible difference in protecting and conserving the natural environment.

“I love being outside and was looking forward to the opportunities to continue to work in the field while also actively engaging in my community,” Forbes said. “AmeriCorps looked like a great fit.”

In her spare time, Forbes enjoys hiking, rock hunting, baking and reading.

AmeriCorps is sometimes referred to as “the domestic Peace Corps,” Lach said. The national AmeriCorps program began in 1994, evolving from several federal traditions of community service opportunities. AmeriCorps Cape Cod is starting its 19th year, funded through Barnstable County, the Cape Cod National Seashore and grants from the Massachusetts Service Alliance and the Corporation for National and Community Service.

The local program, Lach said, provides 32 young adults a 10-month, full-time residential living opportunity to serve the environmental and disaster preparedness needs of the 15 towns in Barnstable County. Each year AmeriCorps Cape Cod staff does maintenance work at Thompson's Field and in other conservation areas in town.

The organization also serves as a feeder program for local environmental and conservation groups. Matt Cannon, the new executive director of the Chatham Conservation Foundation, got his start with AmeriCorps before he began working for both HCT and the Foundation. Harwich Conservation Administrator Amy Usowski also came to the area through AmeriCorps, Lach said.

“You can see how AmeriCorps participation can lead these energetic individuals to future professional positions in our communities,” Lach said, “and that's the demographic leaving the Cape in large numbers. Some of the AmeriCorps people are bucking those numbers to call Cape Cod their home.”

“I love living on Cape Cod and spending most of my down time on the beaches in Truro and Wellfleet with my fellow AmeriCorps members,” Forbes said. “I'm looking forward to getting out in the field and making a difference.”