AmeriCorps NCCC Gold 2: Three months in the Mojave

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The statistics are amazing — 969 feet of irrigation installed, 674 signs posted, 2,300 seeds sown, 9.5 tons of waste removed. How did 11 people achieve so much in such a short time?

AmeriCorps NCCC team Gold 2 has ended a three-month service project with MDLT, having helped restore 3,465 acres of wildlife habitat. The 11-member team worked across the Mojave and Sonoran deserts performing restoration activities, monitoring MDLT land, and removing over 9.5 tons of solid waste. The team helped MDLT staff clear items such as carpets, TVs, and glass from conservation lands.

In the Chuckwalla Bench, the team installed 674 signs marking legal off-highway vehicle routes. In the West Mojave, the team helped restore 27 acres of animal and plant habitat at Palisades Ranch, a 1,600-acre property acquired by the Land Trust in 2018.

At MDLT headquarters in Joshua Tree, the team installed 969 feet of irrigation in the native plant nursery and sowed over 2,300 native plants. The nursery grows thousands of native plants for restoration projects and community sales.

NCCC Gold 2 also helped establish the infrastructure for a new public demonstration garden at the Land Trust’s headquarters, digging trenches and installing gabion walls. The garden was a chance to learn about the different building materials used in natural landscaping. That garden is now taking shape thanks to their hard work.

During their time with the Land Trust, the team worked with 126 volunteers, including National Honors Society pupils from Yucca Valley High School in clean-ups, Northeastern University students in restoration work, and community volunteers in weeding days.

“Back home in Wisconsin, it’s forests and small space. Here, I can see mountains and these incredible vast spaces.” — Becca Kennedy

“When I came to AmeriCorps NCCC, I had just graduated high school, and my goal was to figure out what I wanted to do,” said Becca Kennedy, AmeriCorps NCCC Gold 2 team member.

“My first project gave me some ideas, but then working with the Land Stewardship team, I realized that I love this kind of work. I love being out in the field and getting to see everything. I love the work, the monitoring, even the trash pick-ups. You’re making a difference you can see. I like that impact.”

“Back home in Wisconsin, it’s forests and small space. Here, I can see mountains and these incredible vast spaces. When I found out we were going to the desert, I thought are you kidding me? And I fell in love with it in the first two weeks.”

READ MORE: “I fell in love with my job through my time working with AmeriCorps NCCC Gold 2.” — Cindy Holland, MDLT Volunteer Coordinator