20th Anniversary Spotlight: Bobby Grillo
Bobby Grillo, Montana Conservation Corps Western Wildlands Regional Supervisor and AmeriCorps Alum
For the next year, the Governor's Office of Community Service will be spotlighting key contributors to AmeriCorps in Montana from the last 20 years. Be sure to look for the spotlight each month in this newsletter to learn more about the impact and history of AmeriCorps in Montana.
I was fresh out of college in the Fall of 1996 and was determined to make my way out West- far away from my home ground on Long Island and my years of undergraduate schooling that had me living in the Midwest. I was looking for new adventures and the promise of working hard in the outdoors (much like the AmeriCorps members I currently supervise with the Montana Conservation Corps). Based in Oregon, EnviroCorps was a program of the now defunct Northwest Service Academy that was focused on putting crews on the ground to restore watersheds in Portland's metro area.
That season eight strangers came together, toiled in the always soggy Pacific Northwest, to make lasting contributions to the health of several previously hammered urban waterways. We spent much of the time battling the invasive Himalayan Black Berry - lopping, tearing, and grubbing our way to bare ground on the banks of small streams in which we could recreate healthy riparian conditions by planting native shrubs and trees. It was hard work both physically and mentally - people get grumpy working in the rain every day, breaking their backs. Somehow our Crew Leader always knew the right things to say and do and by the time it was all over, the eight of us felt like a family.
That first year with AmeriCorps I learned that so much about myself, the values of service, and the importance of giving back to your community - the experience changed the course of my life. Almost twenty years later, it is a privilege for me to provide a similar experience for young people that want to work hard and serve the great state of Montana. The National Service experience continues to positively impact the places in which young people serve. However, more importantly, the members themselves continue to find personal growth, come to understand the values of service, and participate in one of the most formative experiences of their lives - here is to another twenty years of AmeriCorps.