Reflecting on a Year Gone By

Story of service submitted by WSC AmeriCorps member Kathleen McKeegan, who just recently completed her 2017-18 term of service.

 

My name is Kathleen McKeegan and I am an AmeriCorps Washington Service Corps member serving at NOAA’s Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary (OCNMS) in Port Angeles, WA. Today is my final day of service here at OCNMS and it is incredibly bittersweet. As an AmeriCorps member here, I served students K-12 in the local Port Angeles area, as well as along the outer Washington coast. It is unbelievable that my time at OCNMS has come to an end; I have grown so close to my fellow AmeriCorps member and OCNMS coworkers, and have loved every second of my service at OCNMS. As I begin to clear out my desk, it is truly staggering and amazing to look back and see how much I have been able to accomplish as an AmeriCorps member. In the past ten and a half months, I served a total of 1,839 hours and reached 2,530 unique students and teachers across the Olympic Peninsula. With my fellow education team members, we reached an estimated 8,009 community members through various educational programs and community outreach events. Furthermore, I helped orchestrate two coastal beach cleanups in partnership with Washington CoastSavers, whose efforts enlisted over 1,945 volunteers that were able to remove at least 20 tons of marine debris from approximately 1,000 acres of Washington’s outer coast.

These numbers and statistics create an overwhelming sense of pride and accomplishment for me. However, looking back on my time with AmeriCorps and with OCNMS, it is not the numbers but the specific faces and moments that I will hold most dear. There were thousands of brief, beautiful moments throughout my service term, and it was those moments that made this a truly unforgettable experience. I am incredibly grateful that I had the opportunity to serve as a Washington Service Corps member at OCNMS. Thanks to this position, I learned that I want to continue to pursue a career in environmental education and marine conservation.