This summer we plan to highlight several of the participants in the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps. To view all Faces of the 21CSC stories, please click here. The following story was provided by Maine Conservation Corps, a 21CSC program operator.
The Maine Conservation Corps’ Alumni are spread far and wide and often continue to work in conservation long after their time with us is done. Recently the MCC heard from Michelle DiMeglio whose life has been shaped by AmeriCorps and the MCC in many positive ways. Michelle currently works as a Youth Program Assistant for The Corps Network in partnership with the National Park Service. Her program works to expand opportunities for youth in National Parks.
Michelle was first drawn to the MCC due to its Trail Training Program. Having previously served with trail crews in California and Arizona, she wanted to gain more experience as a leader. The MCC’s training program prepared her for work with chainsaws, griphoist equipment, and the dynamics of leading a field crew. She was also certified as a Wilderness First Responder. She came away from the program with the skills and confidence to lead.
Michelle first came to Maine in 2010 for the AmeriCorps Trail Training Program, returned in 2011 as a Field Team Leader and Senior Team Leader, and as a Senior AmeriCorps Team Leader in 2013 and 2014. She has worked for the Student Conservation Association and the Southwest Conservation Corps on trails throughout the country, including the Pacific Crest Trail in California, the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho, and locations throughout Arizona and New Mexico.
During her time with the MCC, Michelle discovered how time on the trail can bring people together: “I loved leading my first AmeriCorps crew with the MCC. They were an awesome group. We had lots of fun and grew really close by the end of the summer.” Michelle found herself working all over the state of Maine visiting many beautiful places. At Quoddy Head State Park, her AmeriCorps crew worked by the sea everyday. They completed a number of projects including a log ladder, bog bridging, and stone steps. She also has fond memories of working with several crews in Baxter State Park as a Senior Team Leader.
Since her time with the MCC Michelle has continued to benefit from the confidence and leadership skills she acquired and has maintained lasting friendships with her fellow MCC members. She currently has ambitions for owning land where she intends to employ her skills in the construction of a house and homestead.
For current and future MCC members she offers the following advice: “Follow your heart and your interests. Don’t worry about the ‘career path’ – if you do what you love, the opportunities will keep coming to you. When I started with AmeriCorps back in 2009, I was doing it for fun, to spend time in the wilderness, and to try something new. I had no idea that it would lead to awesome work opportunities, and that I’d be able to earn a living doing what I love.”