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AmeriCorps makes the difference

Kump Education Center benefits greatly from the help of intelligent, energetic, and enthusiastic AmeriCorps members. Over the last ten years AmeriCorps members have worked on many projects including mentoring at-risk students, restoring antique windows, planting trees in the wetland, and helping to clean, catalogue, and organize some of the various things left to the City of Elkins by Mary G. Kump in her will. Two of these wonderful young people helping us now are Erin Crooks and Hannah Wroton.

In the winter Erin Crooks trained with the hands-on preservation team to restore plaster and paint the historic first floor where Eleanor Roosevelt visited Governor and Mrs. Kump in the 1930’s. It seems to me that the restoration work Erin and her team members do is public service in the transformative spirit of the New Deal. AmeriCorps helped a community that could not pay for professional preservation work, and, in this process, AmeriCorps members gain practical experience, learned new skills, and developed their leadership abilities. Such work experience makes them more confident about tackling new projects and starting businesses.

When Erin started last December, she did not know much about plastering and was not ready to lead her team. Now she knows what materials are needed, how much time it will take, and how to plan the next phase of the restoration project. Erin and her team have made our first floor ready for historic tours, and now they are starting to prepare second floor rooms as offices. In addition to her plaster work, Erin has photographed and researched the historic furniture in the house, and she will help us to establish the dates and styles of the original furnishings. All these experiences will help Erin if she continues to pursue an interior design career.

AmeriCorps member Hannah Wroton is working in conservation at the US Forest Service as her primary assignment, but she is interested in education as it relates to the natural sciences. She has created a nature study curriculum for the Forest Service to use with school children.

This week Hannah helped with the Kump Education Center Summer Science program for YMCA Day Campers. The Y Camp theme of the week was Color, and we introduced year 5 and 6 year-old children to different scientific concepts of color. Day Campers learned how prisms refract light waves causing the rainbow effect, and they made their own color wheels.

Hannah showed the children how dyes are made from berries, leaves and other things found in nature. She mixed up a beautiful array of colors, and let the children use these dyes to paint designs on paper plates with the various natural dyes.

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