March 29, 2012

News? News!

Fun Fact - My hair also doubles as a PH monitor.

March 28, 2012

Scavenger Spotlight - Lil' Cents

Move over Franklin Fossil, Lil' Cents is here.

Lil' Cents will be a particularly vocal scavenger clue at this year's EarthFest.  Check out her character profile!

Lil’ Cents
HometownWalletsville (Corner of Savings and Loans)
Occupation: Financial Planner
Advocacy: Green Means Business

In wallets I’m a passenger
At EarthFest a clue for Scavenger
Dropping knowledge like I drop my $wagger

Ben Franklin on my gear
Not accidental
Green Means Business this year
Talking Environmental

The words I speak with fervency
With matters of conservancy
Turning policy into affluency
Drafting ideas just like currency

Tennessee saves 28 million by planting trees
Save a percent on AC every time you adjust one degree
LED save $700 over the life of a light
Fix a faucet, save a gallon overnight

April 21st write it down
I’ll be in Town
All things eco will be going down

Rap with me
I’ll teach you a trick or two
Look for Ben Franklin with the rest of the scavenger crew

March 22, 2012


Is it a planet?  A spaceship?  An alien unto itself?  Who knows.  What we do know is that Harbinger 3000 here is the three-thousandth storm drain mapped here in the Town of Farragut.  Harby is likely to be the last of the thousand marker storm drains as I have reached the final quadrant of our mapping strategy.  I'd say there are about two hundred storm drains left in this drainage odyssey.  What will life be like when this inlet adventure is over?

At the very least I take pride in knowing that I put a little life into my grate covered friends.  People rarely spend any time with them which is a shame.  They all have their own set of personalities just like us.

March 21, 2012

Return of Recyclosaurus

Recyclosaurus participated at the University of Tennessee's Recyclympics last week.  When he wasn't recruiting recycling Olympians on their way from class, he was putting his best claw first in events like the telephone book shot put, the soda bottle lawn dart competition, and the recycling bin hurdle relay.

Skee Recycling!

Lawn darts!

The Recycling Throw!

Recyclosaurus loves the phone book shot put!

March 17, 2012

AmeriCorps - Week 5

Memorial tree marker placed at Campbell Station Park during AmeriCorps Week.
It is AmeriCorps week! I figure that the best way to show my support is to shed a little light on my very own AmeriCorps journey by posting photos throughout the week that mean a lot to me. Today marks the end of the AmeriFestivities. I'd like to thank all of the AmeriCorps Service Members around the country for their hard work. Get Things Done!

My position as the AmeriCorps member for the Town of Farragut's Stormwater Matters program took my already healthy love of and gave it a huge shot in the arm.

Moving to a program where I was the premier AmeriCorps member, would often work alone on projects, and would live by myself was a stark difference from my time in NCCC. Though it was an easy transition to go from sleeping in cots in a two bedroom apartment with ten other people to having a bed to myself I must admit.

Get ready for the sappy part because here it comes - the only way I know how to itterate the differences between my two service years is that if my time in NCCC *taught* me how to fly, my time in Farragut has *allowed* me to fly. Never before have I been given the support to pursue environmental service in such a way in which I was capable of adding my own personal signature at the end. The Recyclosaurus, rap battles, and spork videos are all products of the creativity I am allowed and encouraged to use in my service. I know that when my time is through here I will look back and smile at the whimsy that was around every corner, but I will also remember the important work I was privileged to take such a unique part in. And for that I will remain thankful.

I hope everyone had an amazing AmeriCorps Week. I know I sure did. I'd like to close with the AmeriCorps pledge:

I will get things done for America -
to make our people safer,
smarter, and healthier.

I will bring Americans together
to strengthen our communities.

Faced with apathy,
I will take action.

Faced with conflict,
I will seek common ground.

Faced with adversity,
I will persevere.

I will carry this commitment
with me this year and beyond.

I am an AmeriCorps member,
and I will get things done.

March 15, 2012

AmeriCorps Week - 4

The 'I Am Water Pollution' campaign at the 2011 Paddle for Clean Water.  Photo by Jason Scott.

It is AmeriCorps week!  I figure that the best way to show my support is to shed a little light on my very own AmeriCorps journey by posting photos throughout the week that mean a lot to me.

I live in a house surrounded by tiny evergreen trees.  Turkeys visit me by the dozens.  Once a pig ate my Halloween pumpkin on the front porch.  Every heron that lands in the oversized puddle in the backyard gets a name. Sometimes I have to stop at the end of my driveway because my ten year old neighbor is out walking her miniature white pony.
I work in a big town hall with a museum.  I often wear big rubber waders and hang out with the fishies in Turkey Creek.  I write and make music for raps about benthic macroinvertebrates.  At a moments notice I can become a Jurassic ambassador for recycling, an evil water pollution creeper, or a unicorn earth warrior.
That said, life and work here in the Town of Farragut has been a good fit for me post-nccc.  If anything my time with the Stormwater Matters program has been a movie trailer to a dream job that may or may not exist.  While the work I do in inlet mapping and illicit discharge screening is certainly applicable to many job paths - I don't know if I'll ever be able to mix whimsy and environmental work the same way I do here. Rarely does whimsy and fun feel so productive - I've assessed and tidied up miles of creek, recycled almost an entire ton of refuse, and participated in a number of environmentally focused outreach events just to name a few accomplishments. 
Stay tuned because tomorrow I'll talk a little bit more about my AmeriCorps State/National adventure here in Farragut.    

E-Recyclosaurus eats non-recyclers.

March 14, 2012

AmeriCorps Week - 3

Cleaning off my rain gear in Portland.

 It is AmeriCorps week!  I figure that the best way to show my support is to shed a little light on my very own AmeriCorps journey by posting photos throughout the week that mean a lot to me.

While living with a team of my peers and traveling was enough of an adventure in itself, more than anything I remember the work Silver 5 did during our NCCC stint.  At the end of every day each of us would be asked by our team leader, Jeff, "What are your quantifiables?".  That question is really just a slightly more technical way of saying "What did you do today?".  On days where I felt like I was just one person chipping away at a large block (i.e. spending all day nailing in baseboards of a Habitat home realizing you have several more homes to complete this task in) hearing my team talk about their daily accomplishment brought me back down to the ground where I realized that as a team we could accomplish more than we ever thought we could.  Though I may have felt unproductive in my eight hours baseboard nailing, while I had my nose to the grindstone someone else was finishing painting closets, another was installing appliances, someone was leading a team of volunteers in installing a patio, and so on.  In this particular example of our service with Habitat Portland/Metro East, we expedited the construction of thirteen homes so that the families could move in by the winter holidays.  Acknowledgement of that outcome made countless hours of baseboard nailing more than worth it.  We more than accomplished our goal - and we were only able to do so by working as a comprehensive team of motivated individual with various skill sets and passions.

 Amazingly we turned those 13 house-like structures into polished homes in just a matter of six weeks.  In the course of a ten-month NCCC commitment, that's really just a drop in the bucket concerning time.  I can't even begin to say how many tons of firewood we chopped for Sugar Pine Christian Camp, how many miles of fire entrenchment we cut for the US Forest Service in order to secure fire prone areas, or how many countless hours were spent working on independent service projects such as removing invasive species at community farms, sorting books at a children's book bank,  and even building a cat playplace for a haven for abused animals. Without boasting, I've gotta say we did a lot and we were just one team.  My team was one of about thirty teams on campus, and our campus was just one of five total campuses.  I cannot even begin to fathom all the work that has been done since the creation of AmeriCorps.  Recent data says that AmeriCorps members have served over 1 billion hours since 1990.  One billion.  Talk about unfathomable.

NCCC has directed me to some awesome place - most notably my current AmeriCorps position with the Town of Farragut.  I protect our waterways, I recycle tons of refuse, I use my creative skills for outreach and education, and sometimes I dress up as a unicorn.  More on that tomorrow.

Those baseboards I was talking about...

March 13, 2012

Shamrock Ball

The recycling for the Shamrock Ball was a success!  We were able to recycle the vast majority of the waste at this 400+ person event.  I walked away with over fifty pounds of plastic, aluminum, and paper!  Way to go!

These guys were full up by the end of the father-daughter dance!

AmeriCorps Week - 2

Jeff, Tibbs, Andrea, Me, Tucker, Ellen, Kaitlin, and Jules in our fire gear.

It is AmeriCorps week!  I figure that the best way to show my support is to shed a little light on my very own AmeriCorps journey by posting photos throughout the week that mean a lot to me.

It didn't take long on the AmeriCorps search portal to figure out what service opportunity was a good fit for me.  I wanted to travel, work with a team, and try my hand at a variety of work.  The answer was the National Civilian Conservation Corps.  Without beating the details to death, NCCC is a branch of AmeriCorps for 18-24 year olds of vary backgrounds that work on a variety of project in their 10 month commitment.  In this ten months you work, live, and play 24/7 alongside your assigned team.
My team was Silver 5.  Though months have passed since we have been in one another's company, there is no denying the bond we formed during the short time we spent together.  We still phone, we still send letters, and I know that each of us has spent some time making ourselves feel sappy over old Facebook albums.  I miss them all very much to be frank - not a day goes by where I don't think of them.
My inclination that NCCC would be a exciting fit for me was a correct one.  My will to travel was certainly sated - in those ten months I lived on a WW2 Air Force base outside of Sacramento, a two bedroom apartment in Portland, Oregon, a snowed in cabin beside Yosemite National Park, and a one-hundred year old ranger house outside of Lake Tahoe.  I've seen the Desolation Wilderness, been in awe of Mount Hood, climbed one of the largest sand dunes in the world in the Mojave, hugged a Joshua Tree, had a quick trip into Washington, walked inside of a sequoia, and have taken a daring look over the top of Multnomah Falls. 
Everyday was an adventure in NCCC - even if we weren't actively embarked on an adventure.  The adventure as much dwelled in the work we accomplished and the people we were with than the locations we occupied. And boy did we work hard...I'll tell you a bit about that tomorrow.  Until then.

March 12, 2012

Extra! Extra!

Check me out on the front page of the Farragut Shopper!  What a great way to start AmeriCorps week!

I'm the guy in the middle, not the horse on the right.

AmeriCorps Week - 1

Silver 5 at the Sacramento Zoo.
It is AmeriCorps week!  I figure that the best way to show my support is to shed a little light on my very own AmeriCorps journey by posting photos throughout the week that mean a lot to me.

I began my AmeriCorps service before I ever truly signed on to AmeriCorps.  Coming from a foodservice background in college, I had a difficult time connecting my desire to serve with my academic background.  In fact, I was almost positive it couldn't be done.  The answer I was looking for came from a lady by the name of Julia Maulden.  Though Mrs. Maulden passed long before I began my service journey no to mention long before the chance to ever meet her in person - she inspired me more than I can say.  Julia was much of the inspiration behind Julia's Cafe, a non-profit coffee house with profits supporting Habitat for Humanity.  My job at Julia's Coffee was my first taste of what I could get by committing myself to national service.  It is strange to thing that this introduction to national service came from a paying job as a barista receiving tips - but without that detour taken at Julia's which I needed to support myself through college, I never would have met the AmeriCorps Habitat Charlotte members that inspired me to join the cause. 

Julia once said, "You can't just sit around loving your neighbor abstractly; you have to get out and do something for him".  That is exactly the sentiment I took with me when I decided joining AmeriCorps was the best decision I could possibly make if I wanted to serve my country in a way that I found to be personally fulfilling.  After a couple of daydream sessions, a long talk with a very inspired AmeriCorps VISTA member, and a few volunteer sessions building houses with Habitat Charlotte I made the leap in joining AmeriCorps National Civilian Conservation Corps.  I credit that decision as being being the best I have ever made in my life thus far.  I don't even like to think of the path not traveled when it comes to my choice to serve.  Deciding to fly out to California to work and live 24/7 with complete strangers to work in the snow, rain, sun, and every other weather condition nature could throw at us was one of the bravest things I believe I have ever done.  And it was totally worth it.

Stay tuned and I'll tell you a little more about my NCCC experience with the folks pictured above tomorrow.

March 6, 2012


UT Students will soon be participating in Recyclympics - a athletic approach to recycling education.  Come out and test your abilities March 15th beside the Amphitheater at UT! 

It is also a great chance to check out more of my recycling posters across campus :)

March 5, 2012

Have A Ball

I shall be the recycling jockey at the Shamrock Ball.  Come on down to do a little dance and recycle a plastic bottle or two.

This will have to do for a recycling poster this go-around.  I couldn't find a way to implement Ke$ha into it successfully.