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Local Service, Lasting Impact

Tale of one AmeriCorp volunteer

On April 21, 2009, President Barack Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act at an elementary school in Washington DC.

This new legislation dramatically increases the opportunities for Americans to serve in communities throughout the nation. The impact of such a federal program on our local community may not be readily apparent, but to the staff at Underwood Conservation District in White Salmon, it's not hard to see at all.

Emma Bishop knows how to get things done. As the intern for Underwood Conservation District since January she has worked tirelessly to assist, and even take the lead, on a number of the district’s initiatives and programs.

"We've been so lucky to have her generous help and technical expertise for 10 months," said District Manager Tova Cochrane, "we'll certainly miss her after her 11 month term of service is complete in November."

And what an incredible term of service it has been. Bishop came to work with Underwood Conservation District under the federally funded AmeriCorps program which was originally created as a part of the National and Community Service Trust Act signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993.

Based out of the Northwest Service Academy's Mount Adams Center in Trout Lake, Bishop's 11 month/1700 hour term of service to the residents of Skamania and Klickitat County has made a lasting impact.

"Emma has been a pleasure to work with and get to know," remarked Amanda Lawerence, internship program coordinator for the Mount Adams Center. "She has organized some great educational community events here in the Gorge and has been a great member of the Northwest Service Academy -- Mt. Adams Center community."

Among her many accomplishments Bishop has worked to plant and water hundreds of riparian tree seedlings, involve students from Wind River Middle School in water quality sampling, engage Whitson Elementary students during regular Jewett Creek stream surveys and facilitate the Jewett Creek Streamkeepers, work with forest landowners to develop a number of Wildfire Hazard Home Assessments under the district's Firewise Program, monitor and survey riparian and aquatic habitat restoration projects, organize and hold a community workshop on building better soil, organize and distribute rain barrels as part of a pilot water conservation program, redesign and rebuild the district's website (http://w3.gorge.net/ucd/), run the district's information technology department… among many, many other things. In truth, her accomplishments are too numerous to list.

What's next for Bishop? While the end of Bishop's term of service is in sight, she looks forward to her next step which will likely involve the pursuit of a master's degree in ecology or a related field. While the answer to this question may change, the memory of Bishop's lasting impact will not.

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