By Hayley Johnson
Hello! My name is Hayley Johnson, and I am one of four AmeriCorps Interpretive Naturalists at Deception Pass State Park. The second to last week in March was certainly the busiest week of my service term to date. I hosted or helped with four different programs that all focused on different subjects and engaged with both young children as well as adults. Thankfully, not every week is as chaotic as this, but I believe that this week truly encompasses the scope of the diverse service that we all do as AmeriCorps members here at Deception Pass.
In 1983, Washington state legislature created Washington Service Corps (WSC) to promote community service and support youth employment around the state. A decade later, the federal government created AmeriCorps as a national service program and looked to WSC as a model for the federal program’s design. Through the help and resources of the Deception Pass Park Foundation, the state park has welcomed 16 different AmeriCorps service members from WSC to assist in educational programming and environmental protection since 2011. Our members have joined the park from all around the country and have each chosen to serve with AmeriCorps for a variety of personal reasons. One thing we all have in common though is that all of us have committed our time to providing visitors and local community members with unique experiences that foster personal connections to resources within the state park.
This year is actually my second service term with WSC. Last year, I served as a Student Engagement Specialist at Edmonds College in Lynnwood, WA. I created virtual engagement opportunities centered around environmental justice, and I helped manage our campus Food Pantry to serve the Edmonds College community. In September 2021, I moved to Anacortes to begin a new term with three other AmeriCorps members to help the park’s Interpretive Specialist, Joy Kacoroski, create fun and engaging interpretive programs that celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the state park. One major goal our team has this year is to connect specifically with our Whidbey and Fidalgo Island community members, and we’ve all worked hard to build new programs that do just that. Just since January of this year, we have already made over 2,300 connections with visitors and community members through our educational programs like the Morning Bird Walks, Spring Speaker Series, Northern Elephant Seal Sitting, Family in Nature, and our school field trips.
I knew that signing up to serve as an AmeriCorps Interpretive Naturalist at Washington’s busiest state park would mean challenging myself to work harder and more efficiently than I ever have before, but I am thrilled to have found something that so clearly aligns with my passions and personal career goals.