The Swing of Things

October has been pretty crazy for OSEEC members, and we’re just now creating our own routines. Our service year began in mid-September with Pre-service Training. As a second year AmeriCorps member of a different corps, I had some preconceived notions about what Pre-service training would look like. Maybe a little AmeriCorps 101, maybe some Inclusion training, possibly meeting Marissa and Lauren for Ed Award info, and if we were lucky a catered team lunch at the end. For the most part, there were all of those things, but there was more than my expectations too. Our Program Director, Isaac Lavoie, set up an extremely active and memorable Pre-Service training with the help of his 4 Site Supervisors and their staff.

We trawled on the Alletta Morris, one of Save the Bay’s largest education vessels. We caught flounder (Summer and Winter, which I can now tell the difference between,) a Mantis Shrimp (which has been known to literally split Fisherman’s thumbs in half,) Spider, Hermit and Horseshoe Crabs and plenty more different species found in Narragansett Bay.

We hiked the paths of the Norman Bird Sanctuary and onto Hanging Rock trail where we learned about puddingstone, how to spot bedrock, and saw evidence of Native Americans through Shell Midden. Our visit there was culminated with a climb up Chimney Rock, or a narrow, vertical passage from a ledge to the top of Hanging Rock, which was amazing but also slightly terrifying.

We learned the Power of Play at Roger Williams Zoo in Hasbro’s Our Big Backyard, an outdoor play and exploration center for children. We built forts while learning about animal habitats, played hide and seek while learning about camouflage, and basically ran around acting like elementary school students while being taught that it can be beneficial for children learn through play if given the right, comfortable environment and guidance.

We went on various Nature Walks with the Audubon Society of Rhode Island at their Education Center in Bristol and at Caratunk Wildlife Refuge in Seekonk, MA. In Bristol, I learned how to identify the call of a Chickadee and not to make a pie out of Pokeberries (they’re poisonous.) At Caratunk Wildlife Refuge we caught and identified animals in ponds and streams and learned the names of countless native and invasive species on land.

We concluded our training with a high ropes course adventure in Middletown where OSEEC members climbed rock walls, swung from ropes, and walked across balance beams 40 feet in the air. After defying gravity, we went to Save the Bay’s Exploration Center in Newport where we helped Mystic Aquarium carry a dead Common Dolphin that had washed up on shore to a truck in order for them to perform a necropsy.

Pre-service training was dense, enjoyable, and definitely set us up for our current routines and the swing of things as an OSEEC member.

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