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.