Michigan's AmeriCorps Member of the Month
After completing a year of full-time service with the Huron Pines AmeriCorps program, Derek Brinks decided to sign on for a second year. Derek is placed at the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy (GTRLC) in Traverse City. While his service encompasses a variety of activities, he is primarily focused on nature preservation/natural area management.
The Huron Pines AmeriCorps program places 30 full-time AmeriCorps members with conservation organizations throughout northern Michigan. These members help improve at-risk ecosystems that are integral to the Great Lakes Watershed and provide environmental education and outreach to help expand awareness and improve behavior. Member service activities include invasive species removal, protecting and restoring wildlife habitat, providing environmental education, and developing and expanding partnerships.
Derek serves the entire community from the young to the elderly. His projects help improve habitat and environmental quality, which benefits the community now, as well as for future generations. Derek also helps maintain trails, ensuring they are accessible for the public to utilize and enjoy. His efforts to combat invasive species on nature preserves has allowed native plants to flourish and habitat quality to improve, which helps the local wildlife.
In addition to helping restore hundreds of acres of natural lands and maintaining over 30 miles of multi-use trail, Derek has taken a lead completing botanical surveys across several nature preserves, and completing the bat monitoring citizen science project. This past summer he focused on terrestrial invasive plant species control, multi-use trail maintenance, citizen science initiatives, and event assistance.
Several community issues were addressed during Derek’s first year of service including providing access to nature, preserving sensitive plants and animals, and maintaining and improving water quality. He continues to apply his critical thinking to new projects including carbon sequestration credit research, and protective structures for wild rice. All of these community needs are important and will only become a bigger part of his service during his second year with GTRLC.
“Derek has been a fantastic AmeriCorps member and a great role model to others,” stated program manager Jennie Zoll. “I’m so glad he chose to do another year of service with Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. He will also be serving as our 2016-17 LeaderCorps representative and I know he will do a great job keeping the other members motivated and engaged in service, as well as providing guidance to the group.”
Prior to joining AmeriCorps, Derek graduated from Calvin College with a degree in Environmental Science and German. After college he was employed as an Environmental Restoration Technician with Cardo JFNew and then chose to do an exchange year in Germany. Following his term of service, Derek hopes to live abroad and work in an environmental field, possibly with the US Consulate.