Hillsborough High grads volunteer with AmeriCorps

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Sam GerberPHOTO COURTESY OF AMERICORPS
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Sam GerberPHOTO COURTESY OF AMERICORPS
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Sam GerberPHOTO COURTESY OF AMERICORPS
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Kaitlyn DundorfPHOTO COURTESY OF AMERICORPS
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Kaitlyn Dundorf, rightPHOTO COURTESY OF AMERICORPS
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Julianna Nienart serving with her fellow team leaders at the Northeast Iowa Foodbank in Waterloo, Iowa.PHOTO COURTESY OF AMERICORPS
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Julianna Nienart serving with her fellow team leaders at the Northeast Iowa Foodbank in Waterloo, Iowa.PHOTO COURTESY OF AMERICORPS
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Julianna Nienart serving with her fellow team leaders at the Northeast Iowa Foodbank in Waterloo, Iowa.PHOTO COURTESY OF AMERICORPS
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Sam GerberPHOTO COURTESY OF AMERICORPS
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Sam GerberPHOTO COURTESY OF AMERICORPS
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Sam GerberPHOTO COURTESY OF AMERICORPS
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Kaitlyn DundorfPHOTO COURTESY OF AMERICORPS
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Kaitlyn Dundorf, rightPHOTO COURTESY OF AMERICORPS
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Julianna Nienart serving with her fellow team leaders at the Northeast Iowa Foodbank in Waterloo, Iowa.PHOTO COURTESY OF AMERICORPS
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Julianna Nienart serving with her fellow team leaders at the Northeast Iowa Foodbank in Waterloo, Iowa.PHOTO COURTESY OF AMERICORPS
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Julianna Nienart serving with her fellow team leaders at the Northeast Iowa Foodbank in Waterloo, Iowa.PHOTO COURTESY OF AMERICORPS

AmeriCorps Week 2021 was March 7-13, an opportunity to recognize the service of the 270,000 Americans engaged in AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps Seniors programs annually.

Julianna Nienart and Kaitlyn Dundorf of Hillsborough, and Sam Gerber of Bluffton, are currently serving with the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), a 10-month, full-time AmeriCorps program.

All are graduates of Hillsborough High School.

Nienart began her term of service on Feb. 9 at the North Central Region campus in Vinton, Iowa, and will graduate from the program on Nov. 18, according to information provided by AmeriCorps NCCC.

As team leader, Nienart is responsible for managing the daily activities of the members on their team. She serves as a role model, educator, safety manager, and liaison between the campus and project sponsor, according to the statement.

Before joining the NCCC, Nienart attended Hillsborough High School and Rutgers University, which she graduated from in Bachelor of Science in 2018, MPH in 2020 with a degree in Public Health.

Of their motivation for serving, Nienart said, “I have a strong passion for the health of my community and helping those in need and that is why I initially decided to look into the Americorps NCCC program. My excitement grew as I scrolled through the website, watched videos, and read member’s stories of their experiences.

“I was drawn to NCCC because I am always looking for the next opportunity to involve my passion for human health and community outreach. I recently graduated with my Master of Public Health, and after reading up on Americorps, I knew I could apply my degree to this program in a meaningful and impactful way. What I had learned from my education, past internships, and club involvements weren’t the only things that drew me to applying for the NCCC.

“I adore meeting new people in new places. The idea of working on a team and traveling the country sounds like an exceptional opportunity to learn and grow as an individual, while also connecting with others who share the same passions and values as I do. Overall, I knew I wanted to apply to Americorps because I am looking for an experience that broadens my perspective and gives me the tools to continue a life of service for years to come,” she said in the statement.

Dundorf began her term of service in Fall 2020 at the Southwest Region campus in Aurora, Colorado, and will graduate from the program on July 15, according to the statement.

She is a Corps member.

Her first project in November and December 2020 was with Table Rock State Park in Branson and Ava, Missouri. Her team helped clear fire line around areas identified for prescribed burns. These burns are necessary to keep invasive species in check, to protect native flora and fauna, according to the statement.

Her second project from February early April is supporting FEMA with a mass COVID-19 vaccination site in Yonkers, New York. Her team is providing logistical support for the site, such as assisting with traffic and helping clients get checked in and know where to go, according to the statement.

Her next project, which is to be determined, will begin on April 12.

Of her motivation for serving, Dundorf said, “I wanted to be a part of a community of service-oriented leaders who were making real change in their communities. It seemed like the perfect mix of adventure and service while also providing me a community I could grow with,” according to the statement.

Gerber is also a Corps member.

He attended Hillsborough High School and Rutgers University, which he graduated from in January 2020 with a degree in History and Economics.

His first project in November and December 2020 was with Transition Plus Association in Summerfield, Kansas. Transition Plus works with veterans from nearby Fort Riley to provide stable, affordable housing, non-traditional agriculture training, local tower farm jobs, and entrepreneurship opportunities in high quality fresh food, according to the statement.

His team helped renovate a vacant schoolhouse that is being used for the tower farms by helping to repair and replace ceiling tiles, install and service the garden towers, repair roofing, and perform energy conservation activities such as caulking windows, according to the statement.

His second project from February to early April is with Easter Seals Camp Harmon in Aptos, California, which typically serves about 500 youth with disabilities each summer. Gerber’s team is helping maintain the 40-acre camp following the recent CZU wildfires. They are helping restore the landscaping and buildings so that camp is safe from any new fires and/or the risk of mudslides post-wildfire, according to the statement.

Specific tasks include debris cleanup and fuels reduction, flood mitigation, trail maintenance, habitat restoration, and infrastructure improvement projects such as cleaning and painting the interior and exterior of buildings damaged by smoke, as well as repairing benches, picnic tables and fences.

His next project, which is to be determined, will begin on April 12.

Of his motivation for serving, Gerber said, “I chose to do a term of national service with AmeriCorps because I have recently graduated from college and before I enter into the workforce, I would like to engage in public service because I have the time and means to do so at this point in my life. It would also be very interesting to work and live in a different part of the country, somewhere under other circumstances I potentially would never be able to visit.

“I also have an interest in working in the government later in my life and I feel that AmeriCorps would give me very valuable experience that would translate to my future career endeavors,” he said in the statement.

All three members are completing a series of different 6-12-week-long service projects in different places across their assigned region as part of 5-12-person teams. Projects support disaster relief, the environment, infrastructure improvement, energy conservation, and urban and rural development, according to the statement.

AmeriCorps NCCC members complete at least 1,700 hours of service during the 10-month program. Corps Mmembers are all 18-26 years old; there is no upper age limit for team leaders.

In exchange for their service, all program participants receive $6,345 to help pay for college. Other benefits include a small living stipend, room and board, leadership development and team building skills, according to the statement.

For more information about AmeriCorps NCCC, visit www.americorps.gov/nccc.