Service that Changes Lives – AmeriCorps Project Conserve: A Decade of Impact

More than a decade ago, Kieran Roe sealed and stamped an envelope and dropped it in the mail. What he got back proved to be far beyond his expectations.

“I couldn’t have fathomed everything that would come from it,” said Roe, executive director of Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (CMLC). Roe’s envelope contained a grant application to the Corporation for National and Community Service with a proposal to initiate Project Conserve, a new AmeriCorps program in western North Carolina. “We were still a fledgling land trust. We only had a few staff and we needed help,” recalled Roe.

AmeriCorps was created under President Bill Clinton by the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993. The program— often billed as a domestic version of the Peace Corps–engages adults in intensive community service with the goal of helping others and meeting critical community needs.

Members within AmeriCorps commit to part- or full-time public service positions among non-profit community organizations and public agencies. The proposal that Roe submitted was to establish positions to fulfill environmental and conservation needs in the region.

Roe’s application proved successful, and Project Conserve was born, hosting its first members in 2004. Making a difference is what has defined the program. Since CMLC initiated Project Conserve a decade ago, nearly 200 AmeriCorps members have completed service terms. Their collective contribution has exceeded an astonishing 410,000 hours of public service to western North Carolina communities.

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