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Join Berkshire Natural Resources Council as our 2018-2019 TerraCorps Member

   

TerraCorps is an innovative national service program helping communities conserve and secure land for the health and well-being of people and nature. Using the AmeriCorps national service model, TerraCorps prepares and mobilizes emerging leaders to help strengthen community-based nonprofits working to meet these goals.

This year’s TerraCorps program will support thirty-six full-time AmeriCorps members, serving in one of five positions: Land Stewardship Coordinator (LSC), Regional Collaboration Coordinator (RCC), Community Engagement Coordinator (CEC), Youth Education Coordinator (YEC), or Urban Agriculture Coordinator (UAC).  Members will serve in full-time, 11-month terms (August 27th, 2018-July 26th, 2019) in which they complete at least 1700 hours of service with one of our partner organizations. Members receive a living allowance, education award, and additional AmeriCorps benefits (see full list at end of announcement).

Berkshire Natural Resources Council will host a Regional Collaboration Coordinators (RCC) for the 2018-19 service year. Information about all TerraCorps positions is available at terracorps.org.

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2018 Regional Collaboration Coordinators (RCC) Position Opening with Berkshire Natural Resources Council

Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC)

20 Bank Row, Suite 203

Pittsfield, MA 01201

(413) 499-0596

bnrc.org

Berkshire Natural Resources Council’s mission is “To protect and preserve the natural beauty and ecological integrity of the Berkshires for public benefit and enjoyment.” BNRC has been protecting land in Berkshire County for 50 years. We own nearly 11,000 acres in fee, containing over 50 miles of maintained trails. BNRC is responsible for protecting an additional 11,000 acres of land in Berkshire County through perpetual Conservation Restrictions with private land owners. In addition, BNRC recently launched its High Road initiative which envisions a county-wide trail network connecting towns to nature and ecology, for the benefit of residents and visitors. This long-range effort requires durable partnerships and creative collaboration between numerous sectors in the county, including other conservation organizations, with the potential to achieve vast public benefits. The High Road endeavors to complement the existing abundance of conservation land in the Berkshires for the benefit of wildlife and ecology at local and regional scales. This initiative is intended to realize more from our local recreational economy and increase quality of life for our residents. As a further benefit, BNRC is deepening its partnerships with the conservation community and the greater Berkshire community.

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Regional Collaboration Coordinators (RCC) build the long-term capacity of their service sites by assessing community needs related to land conservation and land access and then organizing collaborative community projects to help meet these needs. They convene and coordinate municipal boards, all-volunteer local land trusts, planning agencies, academic institutions, nonprofits, government agencies, neighborhood groups, community housing associations, and local businesses to build regional networks, and organize collaborative cross-sector working groups to initiate new projects around community needs.

RCCs may assist their service site and partner organizations with collaborative projects and activities such as: developing Municipal Open Space and Recreation Plans; completing farmland and food systems mapping and inventories; securing and protecting land for use as community farms, forests, and parks; planning recreational greenways; developing farm-to-institution and buy local food campaigns; building farmer-to-farmland matching systems; and organizing trainings and outreach for open space planning, farmland protection, land access and affordability options. By educating landowners, farmers, and community groups and organizing multi-stakeholder projects that increase access to funding, RCCs empower diverse people to create healthy, vibrant communities.

TerraCorps members engage with their supervisors to develop and carry out three or more capacity building projects over the course of the service year. Some of these projects will involve recruiting, training, and/or managing community volunteers. Berkshire Natural Resources Council has proposed the following potential project for their Regional Collaboration Coordinator:

  • Analyzing and developing strategies for particular High Road connectivity projects as directed by BNRC, with partner agencies as appropriate. The specific project can be catered toward the experience and strengths of the TerraCorps member but will likely include intensive mapping analyses and project development, including collaborations with local land trusts, neighbors to conservation land, trail users, and/or municipal and state agencies.

Development of these and other projects will occur during the first two months of service and consider the member’s interests and skills.

Essential Qualifications

  • high school diploma and relevant experience
  • a strong interest in serving with municipalities on sustainable land use projects
  • comfortable speaking to groups
  • strong writing and verbal communication skills
  • able to serve both independently and as a member of a team
  • familiarity with Microsoft Office programs
  • basic understanding of computer mapping skills; GIS preferred

Desired Qualifications

  • associates degree or higher and/or certificate, training, or internship in a field related to landscape architecture, urban or regional planning, real estate law, food systems planning, natural resource planning, or other related fields.
  • full competency in computer mapping skills; GIS preferred
  • experience coordinating events and/or meetings
  • experience developing public information materials
  • experience training and managing volunteers
  • experience in local government and/or civic organizations
  • experience in land conservation, land use planning, and/or real estate law

For questions about Berkshire Natural Resources Council’s service positions, contact Mariah Auman at mauman@bnrc.org or 413-499-0596.

AmeriCorps Member Eligibility Requirements

This year’s TerraCorps members will serve from August 27th, 2018-July 26th, 2019. All members are expected to serve full-time, commit to serve for the entire 11-month term, and complete at least 1700 hours of service, including time spent in trainings and service with the full TerraCorps team. Weekly service averages 37 hours and commonly includes some night and/or weekend activities.

As a program of AmeriCorps, TerraCorps applicants must also meet the following AmeriCorps requirements:

  • A US citizen, US national, or Lawful Permanent Resident Alien of the U.S.
  • At least 18 years old
  • A minimum of a high school diploma or GED
  • No more than three previous terms as an AmeriCorps member
  • Pass a criminal history background check, including an FBI check

AmeriCorps programs provide equal opportunities. TerraCorps will recruit and select persons in all positions to ensure a diverse and inclusive climate without regard to race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, veteran status, color, political affiliation, creed, national origin, marital status, or any other status as protected by federal, state, and local laws. We encourage applications from individuals with disabilities and will provide reasonable accommodations for interviews and service upon request.

Member Compensation and Benefits

  • TerraCorps members will receive a living allowance of up to $14,000 (pre-tax) over the 11-month term of service, which is $583.33 per 24 biweekly pay periods.
  • TerraCorps assists members in obtaining health insurance coverage through gov. Reimbursement of costs may be available.
  • Childcare assistance may be provided in cases of financial need.
  • Upon successful completion of a term of service, AmeriCorps members receive a taxable $5,920 education award that can be used for future education or to pay off existing school loans. See gov/resources/edaward for info and restrictions.
  • TerraCorps members are eligible for forbearance of most federally-guaranteed student loans, as well as payment of interest accrued during service.
  • TerraCorps members will receive mentorship, training, and career development opportunities while serving directly with community-based nonprofits.
  • TerraCorps members experience the personal rewards of national service
    and community engagement.

Note: TerraCorps members are responsible for their own housing and must have access to reliable transportation.

How to Apply

2018-2019 Service Site organizations, service positions, and application procedures are described at terracorps.org.

A complete member application includes a 1-page cover letter, a resume, three references, and an application form. Member application and detailed instructions can be found at https://terracorps.org/become-a-member-2/.

Member applications will be available for viewing by all our service sites. Do not send applications directly to a service site.

We strongly encourage interested individuals to apply as early as possible. Position offers and acceptances will begin in mid to late-April. The program aims to fill all positions by mid-July, but service sites will continue interviews as needed until all positions are filled.

For questions about TerraCorps, contact Hanna Mogensen, who manages TerraCorps’ recruitment process. Email admin@terracorps.org or call 978-248-2043.

Additional Information About this Program

TerraCorps We seek to create change by achieving a broader, more authentic engagement of the diverse peoples living in our communities. When we do this, resources will grow, access to land will increase, the pace of land conservation will accelerate, and whole communities will achieve more resilient futures. To learn more about TerraCorps, visit: terracorps.org.

AmeriCorps engages more than 75,000 men and women in intensive service each year through more than 15,000 nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community and faith-based groups across the country. AmeriCorps members help communities tackle pressing problems and also leverage their service by mobilizing volunteers to help address community needs for environmental stewardship, health, education, economic opportunity, disaster services, and support to veterans and military families. To learn more about AmeriCorps, visit americorps.gov.

TerraCorps is a grant program contingent upon renewal of federal funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). CNCS grants to AmeriCorps programs in Massachusetts are administered by the Massachusetts Service Alliance.

The Massachusetts Service Alliance (MSA, mass-service.org) is a private, nonprofit organization that serves as the state commission on community service and volunteerism. MSA’s mission is to catalyze the innovation and growth of service and volunteerism by creating partnerships that maximize resources, expertise, capacity, and impact. TerraCorps is one of 23 AmeriCorps programs for which MSA currently administers funding and supports program implementation.

 

All about seeds!

North Adams Public Library

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

2:00pm-3:00pm

North Adams Public Library

74 Church St.

North Adams, MA 01247

Please join us for a reading of Flip, Float, Fly: Seeds on the Move by JoAnne Early Macken accompanied by an activity where each child will create their own seed bombs to take home and plant! The lesson in geared toward K-4th graders, but anyone who is interested is welcome!

 

Presenter will be Mariah Auman, Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator for the Berkshire Natural Resources Council. If you have any questions about the event please contact Mariah at 413-499-0596 and mauman@bnrc.org or Sara at 413-662-3133, ext. 14 and naplyouth@northadams-ma.gov.

 

Hollow Fields Hike, Richmond, 5/23/2018

On the lookout for Bobolink and other grassland breeding birds!

HOLLOW FIELDS

Wednesday, May 23, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm

“Boblink” Photo Credit: Lynne Harding

Difficulty: Moderate (easy pace, moderate elevation change)

Description: The Hollow Fields Reserve is a collaboration of BNRC and the Richmond Land Trust, in partnership with the Town of Richmond.  The Reserve has multiple miles of hiking trails, 40 acres of wide-open fields, and stunning views. The fields are maintained for grassland breeding bird habitats and in particular, the bobolink. Join us in exploring the fields. Bring your binoculars, cameras, water and lunch or a snack.

 

 

Directions:

From Great Barrington: Take Route 41 north into Richmond. After passing Route 295, Perry Peak Road will be the next left approximately one mile down the road. On Perry Peak Road, find the parking at the second red barn on the left, with a BNRC sign by the road.

From Pittsfield: Get on West Housatonic Street (Route 20) heading west. Turn left onto Route 41 just before Hancock Shaker Village. After 2.5 miles turn right onto Perry Peak Road. Parking is signed, second red barn on the left.

From Lenox: Take Route 183 west towards Tanglewood. Just passed Tanglewood, turn right onto Richmond Mountain Road. Richmond Mountain Road becomes Lenox Road. Continue on Lenox Road through a few intersections and 3 miles. When you get to Route 41, turn right. After passing Route 295, Perry Peak Road will be the next left approximately one mile down the road. On Perry Peak Road, find the parking at the second red barn on the left, with a BNRC sign by the road.

Email Mariah at mauman@bnrc.org or call 413-499-0596 with any questions

April Volunteer Highlight: Sharon Siter

How long have you been volunteering with BNRC?

About 3 years.

What is your favorite BNRC property?

BNRC has so many great properties. A favorite of mine is Housatonic Flats.  I walk the Housatonic Flats trail frequently and snowshoe there in the winter. I also enjoy photographing and birdwatching on the property.

As a photographer I always have a camera with me on the trails and share many of my photographs with BNRC.

What is your motivation for volunteering?

I enjoy volunteering.  It is fun and rewarding.  I can use my skills to help others as well as to learn new skills.

I also volunteer with other local organizations: Great Barrington Land Conservancy, Housatonic Valley Association, Sheffield Land Trust and DCR.

Photos taken by Sharon Siter:

Basin Pond

Birding at Jackson Pond

Alford Springs Vista

 

 

Hoosac Range Hike, North Adams, 5/19/2018

Search for spring ephemerals and enjoy the views of the Hoosac Range.

HOOSAC RANGE

Saturday, May 19, 9:00 am – 1:30 pm

Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult (moderate pace, moderate to difficult elevation change)

Description: Join BNRC for a hike out to Spruce Hill along the Hoosac Range Trail.  A great out and back ridgeline hike with views of the Hoosac Valley and Mount Greylock. Please wear sturdy footwear, bring water and a snack or lunch.

Directions: From Pittsfield: Take Route 8 North, at the Cumberland Farms in North Adams, take a right onto 8A. Then take a right, heading east on Route 2. The trailhead parking is on the right after the Wigwam Cabins.

Email Mariah at mauman@bnrc.org or call 413-499-0596 with any questions

Constitution Hill History Hike, Lanesborough, 5/8/2018

Learn about rich history of Constitution Hill from local historian, Mike Whalen.

CONSTITUTION HILL

Tuesday, May 8, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Difficulty: Moderate (moderate pace, moderate elevation change)

Description: Join cultural historian, Mike Whalen, and BNRC staff in exploring the rich history of this property. We’ll enjoy the 20-30 minute climb from the trailhead to the spine of the hill and the summit near the Constitution Oak. After descending from the ridgeline we’ll return on the wood road built with slag glass from iron production. Please wear sturdy footwear, bring water and a snack or lunch.

Directions: From the intersection of Bridge Street and Main Street/Route 7 in Lanesborough (right near the police station): follow Bridge Street west to its end at the BNRC trailhead and kiosk. The trailhead is about 0.8 miles from Main Street.

Email Mariah at mauman@bnrc.org or call 413-499-0596 with any questions.

Debunking the “Wolf Tree”

“Wolf Tree at Thomas and Palmer Reserve” Photo Credit: Gabrielle K. Murphy

During the early 19th century a vast portion of the New England landscape was cut and cleared for agricultural use. At the peak of deforestation, 60 to 80 percent of the land was cleared for pasture, tillage, orchards and buildings. However, some trees remained in pastures as shade trees for livestock, along boundaries, or grew later along rocky outcrops and fences.

During farm abandonment, primarily from the mid 19th century to the early 20th century, pastures and fields developed rapidly into forests and the old, wide-spreading pasture trees were encircled by young trees. Many of these older trees are still prominent features of our forests and are commonly known as wolf trees. This terminology came from foresters in the late 20th century who believed that the wide-spreading, old trees were exhausting forest resources and should be eradicated to make way for profitable wood, much as wolves had been eradicated from the landscape because they were viewed as harmful predators that exhausted forest resources.

As forestry practices transitioned to more integrated methods, the perception of “wolf trees” began to shift. Today, best forestry practices reflect the need to keep many of these pasture trees in the landscape because they are very important to wildlife.

These giants provide a location for animals to communicate via scent marking, and have attractive features like large limbs, decaying limbs, wide branching patterns, wrinkled bark, and cavities. The relatively young surrounding forests don’t have these diverse characteristics, proving that these relics from another time are truly anchors to the forests we experience today.

Like the wolf trees now being appreciated for all their contributions to ecological health, the wolf is also being more deeply understood and appreciated.

For further reading about this topic visit northernwoodlands.org/articles/article/a-place-for-wolf-trees.

 

 

 

 

 

Library in the Wilderness Program

Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC), in partnership with the Berkshire Athenaeum, Pittsfield’s Public Library, is initiating a program called “Library in the Wilderness.”

This program provides community members with access to essential supplies to have a safe, fun, and educational outdoor experience as well as workshops on hiking, local flora and fauna, and land stewardship.

Library cardholders will be able to check out backpacks equipped with field guides, the library’s park passes, BNRC trail guides, a basic first aid kit, a compass, a magnifying glass, two ponchos, and bug spray, just as they would a library book.

The backpacks will be available for a 1-week checkout and reservations are required.

Interested in supporting this program? Sponsor a backpack by:

  • Making a general contribution by clicking here. $115.00 covers the cost of one backpack and all of its contents, but any amount will help! Just write “Backpack” in the comments section.

  • Purchasing program supplies directly from our Amazon Smile Wishlist: http://a.co/ikDdVbp.  They’ll be sent to the BNRC office for assembling the backpack.

  • Donating your extra field guides (birds, mammals, butterflies, trees, flowers), binoculars, compass, and/or magnifying glasses! Please call 413-499-0596 before dropping off your donation at 20 Bank Row, Suite #203 Pittsfield.

Thank you for supporting the Library in the Wilderness Program!

 

March Volunteer Highlight: Bess Dillman

 

How long have you been volunteering for BNRC?

I have been volunteering for BNRC for over 7 years. I have a group of mostly retired friends that hikes every Tuesday. We enjoy a number of BNRC properties and are very appreciative of the work that BNRC does.

So about five years ago I decided the group should volunteer to help do trail work, cleanup work, or whatever needs to be done– to “give back.” I thought I was going to have to cajole and plead for participation, but I found that was not true. We all loved doing the work! Sometimes more people show up for a work party than for a hike.

Over the years we have worked on the Brothers Trail, the trails at Alford Springs, and the Thomas & Palmer property. But we are most proud of our work at Housatonic Flats in Great Barrington. There we have pulled up hundreds of pounds of barbed wire and fence posts, put up signs, cleared trash, placed benches and more. Nothing is more satisfying than a full morning of work. Then we treat ourselves to lunch at the Barrington Brewery!

What is your motivation for volunteering?

I have to admit that my main motivation for volunteering is that it is gratifying and fun! 

What is your favorite BNRC property?

This question is too difficult to answer! Here are some of the things I love about specific BNRC properties.

The rock work and the design of the Brothers Trail, the Hoosac Trail, and Stevens Glen are outstanding. The sky at Hollow Fields is always spectacular and in spring and summer the bobolinks are a musical and visual treat. Housatonic Flats has wonderful meadows of wildflowers and views of the river. Alford Springs has a variety of delights including views, beautiful birches, brooks and old foundations with apple trees. I never tire of saying hello to Yoda at the Hoosac  Range trail. Constitution Hill, which I visited for the first time last week, has amazing trees, rocks and views through the trees.

I could go on and on!