Greetings, SCA fans! This is one of the final reports from the SCA survey crew in Oxford, MS, and we’re going out in style. You’re brave SCA crew has been facing down the wind and rain off of a tropical storm, but we are undeterred in our awesomeness. After this weekend, we will have finished our scheduled survey periods, and it has been one long summer.
But we’ve also been working in other ways. For our last conservation project, we went down to Grenada Lake and split into two groups. One group refurbished the Army Corps’ fitness trails in the park – no mean feat considering how hot it was that day. The other group dedicated themselves to fixing up a new water safety display in the lake’s visitor center. Master photographer Josh House traveled up and down the lake getting scenic panorama shots to adorn the background, while your fearless field leader made information sheets with water safety instructions and statistics and collected posters, pamphlets, and information sheets the Army Corps had already published. We opened up the display case, climbed into it, and made a colorful, eye catching, and informative display on how to stay safe in the water.
But it hasn’t been all work. Last week, we took a group trip down to New Orleans, the first time most of us had been down to the Big Easy. In addition to walking through the historic and colorful French Quarter and sampling authentic Cajun cooking, we took a tour of a wildlife preserve North West of the city. We went out to the bayou and saw plenty of exotic plants and animals, even if we couldn’t spot any alligators in the wild, as Lacey was very intent on that. We did get to eat some alligator sausage however.
Back in Oxford, we were able to take in some culture and going on an evening art walk down on the town square. We got to see the varied works of student, amateur, and professional artists. The works ranged from the beautiful to the profound to the garish to the nonsensical – kind of like Mississippi itself.
As mentioned earlier, this has been a long hot summer, and I think people are ready to bring it to a close. However we do have one major project looming over us before we go our separate ways – recording instructional videos for the next SCA survey crew. These movies will be so good, they’ll be certain to cement our place as heroes in the annals of SCA lore. Ciao!
Hola SCA fans! The Mississippi team is facing down heat and storm, all to bring the Army Corps of Engineers and all you folks at home the best info in visitor usage. While the team has been hard at work, we are also getting ready to wrap things up and put a big bow on this summer’s SCA program. But we still have plenty of work to get through before we can do that.
Looming clouds did not deter your SCA stalwarts when we worked in the Oxford Community Garden, just across University Ave. from our humble abode. We met with Steve from the Community Garden and worked alongside a group of incoming freshmen from Ole Miss’s honors program. Together with the eager young students, we took up shovels, pitchforks, hoes, and wheel barrows and we weeded, stacked mulch and compost, built compost bins, laid down sod, prepared plots for planting and took care of anything else they needed. And we got the chance to spread the word about the SCA to some impressionable young minds. Not to mention some bell peppers, green onions, and egg plants fresh off the vine.
And, as mentioned in the last hitch report, we got to go to the free music festival in Clarkesdale, MS, the birthplace of the Delta Blues, to see rock god Robert Plant with his current band, the Space Shifters. And for the record, in case all you Led Zeppelin fans are curious, he played ‘Friends,’ ‘Bron-Y-Aur Stomp,’ ‘Black Dog,’ and sections from ‘Whole Lotta Love’ and ‘How Many More Times’ as part of medlies. He’s still got it after all these years.
Until next time, this is your SCA team in Oxford MS.
Greetings friends! The dog days of summer are setting in, and the SCA’s survey team here in Oxford s putting up with some serious summer heat. But it is all in a day’s work when you’re out on the Army Corps of Engineers’ lakes. Maybe it is the heat, but there is not much to report – everyone is plum tired, and unfortunately the SCA frowns on afternoon siestas.
But that is not to say that we have been inactive. Down at Sardis Lake, we cleaned up the side of the highway and cleared brush off of a boardwalk trail going through the heart of a gorgeous swamp. Even in the sun and humidity, we were struck by the towering Cyprus trees growing out of pools of water, the clusters of shrubs, vines, and flowers bursting forth with life, and the darting birds, dragonflies, butterflies, wasps and other insects animating the air. (And I promise that I will get pictures of that trail soon up here soon! Watch this spot, True Believers!)
Our projects aren’t all about sweatin’ it out in the sun. We’ve also spent time comfortably air-conditioned, but no less diligently working as we brainstormed over our plan to refurbish the water safety display at the Grenada Lake visitors’ center. We think it will beat the “pile of life jackets strewn about an otherwise empty case” look that they have going on now.
Alright, we might not be as active as we have been. But as the summer winds down, we are planning plenty of trips, activities, and festivities, starting with the Blues Festival in Clarksdale, a free show by rock-god Robert Plant, and a trip to the crossroads where Robert Johnson invented the blues. And it will only get cooler from there! Till next time, this has been your friends in Mississippi.
Greetings from Oxford, Mississippi!
It's been a wild ride these past two weeks in the SCA. We began this hitch with a trash pickup at Clear Creek, a quiet little beach where many of the locals go to get away from the big beaches and swimmin’ spots at the Northern Mississippi lakes. It's become a haven for us here on the A.C.E team 4 so, we figured it only right to make it spotless for the rest of the folks down south who love it as much as we do. While we were there we stumbled into the jungle and found several tricky animal traps and had to skedaddle out of the woods and stick to the beach. Seven GIANT trash bags later and we headed to the dump to dispose of the funk. It caused us to consider how important Leave No Trace concepts are and we're beginning to discuss ways of educating the local populace about these basic principles. Some of us have been in contact with a local elder whose been telling us tales of the Civil RIghts movement here in Mississippi in the sixties where her husband was one of the lead activists and, through her contacts, we're hoping to lead a seminar on Conservation opportunities in the community.
Moving ON! We were visited by Dick Kasul from the Army Corps office in Vicksburg, MS who observed and took notes on the process of surveying, the interactions between us as surveyors and the public as respondents. We had a series of observation days filled with laughs and by the book operations. On Dick's last day we had a potluck breakfast and found many solutions to some of the small issues we had with the project. Thanks Army Corps! He left us in a stay of calm and we began planning our first team overnight adventure! Away we gooooo!
Josh House and Joe Kolar took it upon themselves to plan a trip for the A.C.E. 4 Ole Miss crew to head up into NW Arkansas and camp in the Ozark Mountains on the Buffalo National River. Team building at its finest. You learn a lot about yourself out in the wilderness! We sure did. We spent several nights camping in the woods, cooking over campfires, eating smores, roast vegetables and enjoying spring water from the Ozarks. Everyone had their own tents and Lacey and Adam took a tarp and slept under the stars. When you're way out, away from the cities, the stars are out of this world! (Literally) During the night, flashlights in tow, we watched the eyes of the raccoons, opossums, armadillos, deer and whatever else was lurking in the shadows meander around us, looking for leftovers. Soundly sleeping we awoke to a day of perfect weather, bright sun and a cool river. The majority of us were in the river the entire trip, meditating on the current, gazing up at the different hawks soaring overhead and dive-bombing after their prey. We took a group trek a few miles upriver and found a swimming hole, partly in the shade and deep enough for us to splash and frolic until it was time for lunch. Minnows nibbling at our skin, dragon flies landing on our noses and nothing but the sounds of Nature to listen to our laughter.
On our last day, Lacey and Adam hiked on the Clabber Creek Trail. They found abandoned mines with Quartz glistening off the rock faces, they went to Clabber's Overlook and watch the rushing river flow serenely around the river bends. On their way back to the campsite, they visited an old Civil War cemetery with graves dating back as far as 1802! Then they found a secret lagoon, just off the trail. The gem of the hike, here was tall crags, a waterfall, and a six foot deep swimming hole as clear as a blue sky in springtime.
Josh, Paul, TIna, and Joe headed back to Oxford via Memphis, Tennesee and Lacey and Adam took local roads the whole way back and dug Arkansas. Stopping at Mom's Diner, the Jamesport State Park where they saw a tornado machine learned about some confederate history and had an interpreter take them around and show them some sites. At the White River they stopped under a GIANT bridge and made coffee and watched Barn Swallows did and dive through the pillars, riding the wind as though they were weightless. The Arkansas Welcome Center in Helena, AK provided fresh coffee and Ms. Barbara the clerk who told grand stories of the history of Blues in the Deep South. Last stop!
They ventured into historic Clarksdale, MS just before heading back to Oxford. Clarksdale is the home of Robert Johnson, the legendary Blues Guitarist who was satirized in the Cohen Bros film, "O Brother, Where Art Though". It's believed that at the intersection of Highways 61 and 49, Robert Johnson sold his soul to the Devil for the gift of plucking the guitar strings and there and then founded the great music we know now as the "Blues". After an epic journey, Lacey and Adam made it back to Oxford and we all ate a big supper of stir-fried vegetables and pancakes! All us would love to head back up to Arkansas to enjoy that landscape once more but, who knows, maybe next stop Nashville? New Orleans?
Enjoy it SCA! We're all Living the Dream!
Greetings all! Or as they say in Oxford, greetings y’all! The Student Conservation Associations Visitor Survey Team in Mississippi is hard at work, sweating it out in the July sun, collecting data like veritable data collecting machines. Can you believe that we are one third of the way into our summer season? Well, the long dog days are still ahead, so the remaining months will seem even longer to make up for it.
Over the past two weeks, our three teams were out administering surveys for the Army Corps of Engineers at Arkabutla, Sardis, Enid, and Grenada Lake. Now, my experiences at work are limited to working with Lacey, and I have never encountered someone who enjoys giving surveys as much as she does. I mean, this is not a painful or unpleasant job by any means, but the satisfaction she derives from administering surveys is simply beyond me. So imagine her joy when one of our rec sites was hosting a family reunion and a class reunion at their picnic areas at the same time. I’ve never seen her so happy.
We also welcomed Boise’s own Mr. Alex Olsen, the master mind behind the SCA’s Army Corps program. Alex is the man who has made all this possible, and he took time off of his busy schedule to visit the various SCA teams throughout the South. While visiting, Mr. Olsen met with each member of the team to discuss how things are going and how they are doing. He also joined us at Frank and Marley’s for twenty five cent wing night. Now how can you beat a deal like that?
In an effort to continue a tradition that has apparently just started, Adam Bryant, freestyle champion of Germantown, MD, composed a rap for our community that will be sent to the next SCA team.
The Oxford team has taken field trips both natural and intellectual –
we spent a day at Arkabutla, picking up litter on their beautiful nature trails, covering eight miles in total. After that, we paid a visit to Rowan Oak, the Oxford mansion where Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winning author William Faulkner lived and wrote his acclaimed novels, such as A Fable and Absalom, Absalom!
When master chef Paul starts marinating a rack of ribs for twenty four hours and slow cooking them for over five, it can only mean it is time to celebrate, and what better way to celebrate Independence Day than with seasoned, tender, fall-off-the-bone ribs? Our neighbors graciously invited us over for the 4th, and gave us more salad, pasta salad, corn, venison, and more than we could eat. Not to mention hearing about the research Ms. Terry is doing for her forthcoming book on the Civil Rights movement in Mississippi.
And we topped it off with fireworks on the Ole’ Miss campus.
So next time you’re in Mississippi, follow Alex’s lead and pay a visit Josh, Adam, Paul, the newly-mohawked Tina, Lacey, and Joe.
Greetings from Oxford, MS! After orientation in the Sasquatch-haunted woods of Carnation, Washington, The Student Conservation Association’s survey team –Adam Bryant, Joshua House, Lacey Culbertson, Paul Revekant, Tina Rudolph, and Joe Kolar – has traveled to the other end of the country to hit the ground running in Mississippi. We have spent some time getting settled and working in the heart of Dixie, which is just about as deep as the Deep South gets. It is going to be a hot, humid summer, but we are going to get a lot of good work done alongside the Army Corps of Engineers.
We are working at Arkabutla, Sardis, Enid, and Grenada Lakes in North Western Mississippi. For the past two weeks, we have been collecting vital data and carrying out conservation projects that will help the ACE improve and manage their well-loved, well used parks for many years to come.
To cover more ground at work, we have split into three teams of two – Team A (aka Team Awesome), Team B (aka The Best) and Team C (aka The Champions). Each team has been working at 6 different sites over the course of a rotating schedule, which allows us to cover a total of eighteen sites, which range from camping areas, to boat ramps, to fishing piers and swim beaches. Depending on the day, groups can get started as early as 7 AM or work as late as 7:40 PM, which gives the ACE a vast variety of information to process and learn from. We generally have between ten to thirty surveys taken for each shift, meaning that we have upwards of sixty or eighty per day, and sometimes more than that. We have also begun working on a water safety display at the Grenada visitor’s center as well as cleaning over fifty fire rings at Enid Lake’s most popular camp site. All in a day’s work for the SCA’s fearless environmental warriors.
Of course we have needed to do some things in our free time. Off the clock, we have had the chance to visit the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, take in some authentic Southern barbeque, and get to know our neighbors. So far favorite group activities include grilling, high stakes Monopoly sessions, meeting the locals, and exploring historic Oxford. We have met, surveyed and served plenty of very friendly, very interesting people at the parks, and it looks like this is going to be a great summer.
This is Joe Kolar down in scenic Oxford Mississippi, home of the Ole Miss Rebels. I've been busy getting settled, searching for housing, and spending time on the gorgeous, expansive lakes my team will be working around all summer. In the scant down time I've had, I've been able to take some nice long walks around Oxford's historic town square, which has plenty of restaurants, shops, antebellum buildings, and a statue of home town hero, writer William Faulkner. Come on down for a visit some time.
Joseph Kolar - Project Leader
Memphis Tennessee/Oxford Mississippi
Work # : 208-608-6318
Hello everyone, I'm Joe Kolar and I am leading the SCA's Army Corps of Engineers Team 4 in Northern Mississippi for the 2012 season. We will be conducting visitor use surveys to help the ACE better manage their lands.
This is the second summer I have worked with the SCA. In 2011, I managed a high school crew in carrying out trail maintenance and repair along the Potomac Heritage Trail in Washington DC.
I am originally from the DC area. I graduated from Loyola University in Baltimore, and have worked with a variety of non-profit organizations both in the DC area and elsewhere. I’m very excited to lead this crew, and I hope we can make it a great summer.