December 29, 2011

Wanna Be A Part?

Are you nterested in National Service? Do words like water quality, conservation, recycling, and weatherization make you happy? How about working for the Great Smokey Mountains National Park? Then look into a position with Knoxville's CA...C AmeriCorps program! For a full listing of positions avaliable (including a particularly awesome water quality gig in Farragut!) visit the AmeriCorps CAC blog at
or apply via the MyAmeriCorps portal here.

December 20, 2011

Go with the Flow

Jess and I continue our dry weather screening despite the cold, cold water.  The water level was up to our waists (well, my waist, Jessica's shoulders I suppose).  Despite the sometimes treacherous journey down the creek today we celebrated in finding the kind of discharge we had been looking for -

That's a lot of water!
I get excited anytime we have the chance to do some chemical testing.  The good news about today's testing results was that the water being pumped into the creek from an unknown source was actually cleaner than the water already present in the creek.  That's not bad news!

Jess uses our GPS unit to map outlets going into the creek.

The two raindrops represent the legs of Turkey Creek that have been assessed and mapped.  Not much more to go!

December 19, 2011

The Screen Door

Here in Farragut we don't call our community volunteers just anything that denotes unpaid service.  Oh no.  Here they are called 'Farragut's Unsung Navy'.  Epic.

I have the fortune of working with a member of Farragut's Unsung Navy (though now that I've blogged about her is she technically sung?) in completing dry weather screening for our Stormwater Matters program.  What does dry weather screening entail?  Well you see, Jessica and I have the very fun job of donning waders and walking miles of stream to search for illicit discharges into Turkey Creek.

This would be an example of an outlet we would map and assess for discharges.

Here's an example of a outlet that would be mapped and assessed - a sprinkler system intake/discharge.

Jess uses GPS technology to map stormwater outlets.

December 15, 2011


Strong.  Resiliant.  Service Oriented.

AmeriBadger takes what he wants.

December 13, 2011

Outdoor Classrooms 101

The vast majority of my school experience was spent within the confines of high stacked cinderblocks painted a cheery shade of uber-beige with the occasional rectangular window with bars over the glass. The principal like to refer to them as shade louvers...but us students called them bars. Don't get me wrong, it was the non-tangible things that I took in during my primary schooling that meant the most - not the structure which held me. Nonetheless I cringe every time I pass those louvers.

That being said I can't help but get a little excited when the topic of outdoor classrooms comes up among community members and my fellow AmeriCorps members. Before coming to the Knoxville area I had never heard the two words put together in such a way before. I was a bit baffled at first. Afterall, if a classroom is outdoors then how do you stick pencils in the ceiling tiles or put gum under you desk? It didn't make sense. Gum and pencil placement aside I have had ample opportunity to learn what these classrooms are all about. The more I learn, the more I wish I had them in my primary schooling.

Part of my service position as the Water Quality Assistant for Farragut is to help in the development of our own outdoor classroom. While the current site is a mostly empty field adjacent to Turkey Creek, with a bit of elbow grease and a healthy application of good ideas and community involvement it can be up and running within the next few years. As far as my part goes, just yesterday I found out I was awarded a $500 grant to allow for the planting of trees within our outdoor classroom to act as riparian stabilizers. Cool eh?

In order to get a grasp on what makes outdoor classroom so successful, Farragut's community volunteer Jessica and myself went on a tour of four Knox County OC locations led by AmeriCorps Water Quality Team Member, Kelsey.

(Photos taken by Jessica!)

Karns High - Many OCs are certified arboretums.
West High - This OC features raised gardens as well as a butterfly garden.
West High - Rainwater harvesting.
Halls High - This OC not only acts as a learning area for students but also as a attractive and very effective stormwater buffer.
Gibbs High - OCs offer students the chance to learn outside of day-to-day environments while allowing them to directly connect with the natural world around them.
Halls High - This classroom also serves as an attractive community space for local residents as well as students.
Gibbs - Shop Class students are using their carpentry skills to create a green roof on this OC storage shed.

Thanks CAC!

December 7, 2011

Creative Colleagues

Lauren, Farragut's Event Coordinator, did this artist rendering of the mysterious Storm Drain Superhero today.

Jason, Farragut's Stormwater Coordinator, made this cake for our Pollution Prevention training.  I ate the oil slick :)

November 30, 2011

2000: A Drainage Odyssey

I didn't know when exactly it would happen but yesterday at around noon I hit lucky storm drain number 2000.  Soft-spoken with a quiet dignity about her, Charlene was her name.

She always wanted a 'No Dumping' marker...but she says she never looked good in hats.

In other storm drain news my super-car now denotes my governmental affiliation.   This way I can be a real Storm Drain Superhero and not just some dangerous loner driving about town looking down drains.

It's called a Versa because no matter what kind of magnet you put on still looks a little frumpy.

November 23, 2011

County Country

The AmeriCorps Water Quality Team of Knox County/Knoxville invited me out for a little assessment of Sinking Creek today.  Sinking Creek is on Tennessee’s 2006 303(d) list of impaired waters due to concerning amounts of e-coli present.  While only a very small part of Sinking Creek enters Farragut proper, this was an excellent opportunity to work with colleagues representing the Knox County perspective of water quality assessment.

Chessa uses a GPS device to note discharges in the stream and indicators of stream health.

Wherever there is land and water invasive species will find a way.

As the self-proclaimed Storm Drain Superhero I declare this my new secret lair.  Well, I guess it isn't a secret anymore.
Map. Look. Map. Assess. Look. Map.

Inlet Output

Though this map is short of about 200 points, here's a little sneak peak of the storm drains I mapped.  Much thanks goes out to Jason for making this map as legible as possible.  With about 1700 points on this map it would have looked like a giant green glob if he hadn't measured it down.

I finished quandrant two of Farragut yesterday and am well on my way to finishing up the entire town come Spring!

All data should be expressed in tiny lime green dots.

November 18, 2011

That's (also) a Rap

Erin, the AmeriCorps from Knoxville Air Quality, stopped by the Farragut recording studio last night to lay down some vocals on her track.  Erin plays the part of Dobsonfly, a careless party bug. 

November 17, 2011

That's a Rap

Part one of the recording phase was finished last night for the first episode of 'Somewhat Remarkable Hip-Hop Conflicts of Water Quality.'  My fellow CAC AmeriCorps member put down some vocals for her character, Caddisfly.  More info on SRHHCoWQ to be arriving in the coming weeks!

Katie somewhere between take one and one-twenty-three.

Ever heard a folksy rap song?  They aren't east to make. Trust me.

November 14, 2011

Watershed or Aquabarn?

America Recycles Day was a big success for those of us at the water quality booth.  We were able to talk one-on-one with citizens who gave us tips on what stream they would like to see be restored and/or cleaned up within Knox County, Knoxville, and Farragut.  We also gave a few talks on what it means to be a steward of your watershed.

Knox county looks exactly like this from the view of an airplane window.  We're serious about identifying watersheds.

In other water quality news, Farragut's VRRB Adopt-A-Stream group pulled over 200 pounds of trash out of Turkey Creek this weekend.  Great job guys!

VRRB is geared up and ready to go.

In more watershed news I attended the Inaugural Watershed Symposium at the University of Tennessee today.  Frankly if I was a UT student right now I would have easily have been talked into a Watershed Studies minor today.  There were some really interesting presentations.

Until next time!

November 11, 2011

America Recycles Day

Knoxville will be holding it's annual America Recycles Day festival tomorrow at West Town Mall from 10am - 2pm.  Be sure to stop by the Water Quality table where I will be holding the torch for the Town of Farragut. So come by and we can talk about watersheds and the like - it'll be fun!


Here's a cool article from the EPA concerning newly developed environmental apps

I'm particularly fond of this water quality app.

Don't Call it a Comeback.

Though Mr. Spork didn't win the America Recycles Day Video Contest, he still likes to come hang out from time to time. Here is is schmoozing it up with the CAC AmeriCorps and two rather famous bombshells.

Turkey Spork in the background won 'best centerpiece'.
He wasn't actually a centerpiece but Spork doesn't like to split hairs.

He wakes up in the morning feeling like P. Diddy.

This makes me want to send GaGa a Narwhal hat and Ke$ha a Jeff Fish.

Stay tuned for more utensil goodness.

November 4, 2011

What is Adopt-A-Stream?

Well I am so glad you asked.

I really enjoy the work I do helping to coordinate Farragut's Adopt-A-Stream program.  It is a chance for me to interact with active community members while also indulging my love for being outside and making an obvious impact in a specific area.  Sometimes you come across really cool trash like this sweet Grapette soda can I found in Turkey Creek yesterday.  That's history right there.  Just think, this discarded can of pop predates Farragut's incorporation. She missed out on so many major life events here in America - The finale episode of The Golden Girls where we all said a teary goodbye to Bea Arthur, the Nancy Karrigen lead pipe debacle, and the rise and fall of Fred Durst who was largely considered the Mozart of our time.  You know, biggies like that.

Grapette - now in one delicious flavor! Grape!

Now through my historic trash adoption program this Grapette can will never be left in the dark again.  Currently I am catching it up on the 'Dallas' series (she never got to see who shot J.R).  Not all creek trash gets such special consideration however.  Just the other week Farragut High School's JROTC group picked up over 400lbs of refuse including a lawn chair, a working bicycle, and enough rebar to recreate the Megazord robot from Power Rangers.  All of that trash got the special consideration of just being diverted from the stream.  Not too shabby if you ask me.

Rebar Megazord...70% recycled steel, 100% awesome.

Wow, this sounds like a fun way to help increase the ecological integrity and beautify my community you say.  You're right.  It is both of those things.  So how does it work?  Another good question.  A group or individual can adopt a section of their choice and of varying lengths.  The length of the stream is determined -o-n the number of volunteers available to help clean up, the amount of time and effort to be put forth into your adoption, and the difficulty or ease of a certain length of terrain.  The Adopt-A-Stream group should then strive to complete one stream walk, three stream watches, a pipe and drainage inventory, and two stream cleanups a year.  More information on those responsibilities can be found here.

Farragut High's  ROTC in the latest wader fashions.

All of your supplies (trendy waders, fashionable safety vests, fifty gallon trash bags, etc.) are provided for you and you don't even have to throw away the trash yourself because we will do it for you!  Good deal right? Plus you get a snazzy blue sign on the side of the road with your group's name on it.  So all in all Adopt-A-Stream is win-win.  How many things can you say that about?

If you are interested in adopting a section of stream in Farragut you can reach me at the Town Hall at 865-966-7057.  Contact information for Knoxville and Knox County can be found here.

So go out there and clean some streams!

And don't forget to enjoy the great taste of Grapette today!

November 3, 2011

Fight the Zero

AmeriCorps is such an amazing program. Just the thought of it not being a part of the makeup of this country makes me shudder. As a second term member I can honestly say that AmeriCorps has been the most formative experience of my life. It has helped me become a valuable member of the workforce, the community in which I live and work, and the world at large.
 We must fight the zero Congress has placed on the budget of AmeriCorps.  We aren't looking for a bailout, just a chance to serve our country.

October 31, 2011

Doodle or Puff?

October was a busy, busy month for Mr. Joshua.

I've given out rubber duckies to the local children for the town's annual Freaky Friday event, cleaned up a big section of Turkey Creek with Farragut High School's JROTC, staggered down Market Square in Knoville with my fellow undead for the Knoxville Zombie Walk, reached lucky number 1500 for storm drains mapped, got my Knoxville know-it-all card stamped when I went to a UT game and visited the Knox Zoo, brought a spork to life, and I found a cheez doodle in a storm drain.

I hesitate to even mention the cheez doodle.  You would have had to of been there I guess.  It was more exciting than it seems.

As a Water Quality Assistant (or President of Farragut if you will) I have been playing the part of both the reflective vest wearing field worker and the faux Micheal Bay with a spork equally and with success.  So prepare for more fascinating GIS updates as well as more green screen nonsense and utensil utilization.

Now, time to end this wonderful month with some zombie movies, candy, and a sense of accomplishment.

Thank you and good day.

I say stuff,  I bring trash bags, I take videos.

A chupacabra.  Some people call them mercats.  Anywho, they're at the zoo. 
The letter T or an upside down sailboat with a tall mast?

No brains down the storm drains.

Everything about this girl's performance is perfect.  The eyes, the rolled ankle, the I seem slow but I could eat your brains before you say 'how cute' smile.  Love it.

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween everyone!  Here's an update on the GIS mapping I'm doing for Farragut.

Personally I find couples costumes to be obnoxious but hey, they look kinda cute together.

15% more scary than storm drain #666.  Who knew?

October 18, 2011

Spork's Whimsical Recycling Adventure.

After much hard work I am ready to unveil my America Recycles Day Video Contest entry. So here it is 'Spork's Whimsical Recycling Adventure'.

The video will be (if things go the way I hope they will) approved by a committee and then it will be judged by number of thumbs up on YouTube. So don't vote yet! You blog visitors can have a naughty sneak peak though...shh.

October 14, 2011

Spork Services.

This is what I have been working on.
A whimsical adventure brought to you by the minds of Jason Scott and Joshua Cunningham. 

Stay tuned.

October 7, 2011


On this day last year I packed a backpack and a suitcase and flew out to California.  It was honestly the most terrifying experience of my life.  Life up until that point had been about going to school and making coffee for a paycheck.  To say that I had that life under control was an understatement.  If anything I was bored with it.  I guess that’s what led up to that terrifying experience part of things.  When I first thought about making the big leap it was the thought of leaving my nice apartment and car that concerned me.  It wasn’t until I was leaving my loved ones in the airport that the little seed of terror truly began to sprout.

Everything else from that point on is located in the ‘good memory’ file of my brain’s rolodex.  But NCCC was more than a series of good memories for me.  Without venturing close to hyperbole I can say that it was the most definitive experience of my life.  I learned more in those ten months of service that I did in four years of college.  I entered into NCCC as a bumbling adult wannabe with little sense of direction as to where he wanted to go in life.  And I left as a bumbling adult wannabe with little sense of direction as to where he wanted to go in life.  That adult however had something the other didn’t.  He had a sense of fulfillment, an appreciation for life, and a hunger for service that exceeded his own expectations.

AmeriCorps hasn’t been about changing who I am.  It has been about being a better me through the vehicle helping others.  And for this opportunity I will be thankful for the entirety of my life.

More News

Farragut's AmeriCorps participation gets mentioned in this month's University of Tennessee MTAS newsletter!  Check it out!

October 1, 2011

September 30, 2011

I'm Casey Kasem

September 29, 2011

Talk of the Town

Quickly becoming as popular as sliced bread.

(and in case you missed my other moments of stardom...)