UACES Facebook AmeriCorps volunteers to cleanup storm damage, make upgrades at Vines Center
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AmeriCorps volunteers to cleanup storm damage, make upgrades at Vines Center

By Tracy Courage
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Nov. 18, 20190 

Fast facts

  • AmeriCorps team arrives at C.A. Vines Arkansas 4-H Center where they will spend six weeks working on projects to improve the appearance, safety and energy efficiency at the Arkansas 4-H Center.
  • Volunteers are the sixth AmeriCorps team to serve at 4-H Center

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LITTLE ROCK – A team of 12 AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps members is hard at work at the C.A. Vines Arkansas 4-H Center, where they are spending six weeks cleaning up storm-damaged areas and making energy efficiency upgrades.

The group arrived Nov. 9 and quickly got to work this week removing a dock damaged by a tree downed in storms earlier this year.


“The total acreage of the fallen trees was thankfully low,” said 4-H Center director J.J. Pitman, “However, being next to the lake made the damage very visible.”

The team has a long list of projects – from clearing hiking trails, and painting and staining bridges and benches to clearing kudzu. They also plan to complete some solar conversions for the outdoor lighting, and they will also spend a few days working with the Pulaski County Master Gardeners in the demonstration garden.

One of the team’s major projects is removing leaf litter and limbs to prepare for a controlled burn. Controlled burns benefit the property in several ways. They reduce the tick population, reinvigorate the area for plant growth and reduce fire hazards. 

“If there is ever a fire in the area, it will be less likely to spread because we’ve removed the ground litter that would act as fuel,” said Shannon Caldwell, program director at the 4-H Center.

Another high-priority project will be replacing and adding insulation in several buildings on the property to increase energy efficiency.

The volunteers are the seventh AmeriCorps team hosted at the 4-H Center. Since 2012, AmeriCorps members have contributed more than 17,500 service hours, saving the non-profit 4-H Center thousands of dollars in labor costs.

“There are projects all over our campus that AmeriCorps has done,” said Shannon Caldwell, program director at the 4-H Center. “Their work has helped maintain many areas for both aesthetics and safety and more efficiently than we could without 12 extra people here.”

More than 25,000 people visit the 4-H Center each year and many of them stay for several days at camps and conferences.

The AmeriCorps volunteers also learn skills working with 4-H center staff.

“While we are here our team is gaining skills in the areas of environmental stewardship and general construction while also getting to spend time with the 4H Center's staff who are great role models in the fields of environmental and recreation/education work,” team leader Kai Schmidt.

This year’s team members began their term of service Oct. 15 and their stay in Little Rock is their first project as a team. When they leave on Dec. 20, they will move on to complete other more projects. They will graduate from the 10-month program on July 16, Schmidt said.

Team members are from California, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, South Carolina, Missouri, New York, and Virginia and Washington, and include at least one former 4-Her.

“We love having them here,” Caldwell said. “They are very efficient and hard-working. Because they are so service-minded, they do what needs to be done, and they do it with a great attitude.”

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About the Division of Agriculture

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

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Media Contact: Tracy Courage
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126