A San Antonio Tale

This past week, we spent Monday through Thursday in San Antonio, Texas.  What started out as a typical, hot Texas work week, turned into an emergency situation.  The first couple of days, we worked in the Acequias surrounding the San Antonio Missions. Acequias  are irrigation ditches created in the early 1700’s to divert water from the San Antonio river to farmlands surrounding the Missions.  Our job was to cut down and herbicide invasive plant life, such as Chinaberry, Ligustrum, Cat Claw and Arundo species.  Our sponsors and Parks crew for the week, Eric, Greg and Mario were all very knowledgeable and helpful.  All was well for the first two days – though hot and humid, the work was new and exciting because we were in an interesting and historic environment and we had chances to learn more about plant identification in areas outside of Austin.

On Wednesday, the work started off normally, but we soon were thrown into an unexpected situation.  Right before lunch two crew members were using brush cutters to cut down Arundo in an overgrown area near the San Juan Mission.  The vibrations from the brush cutters disturbed a hive of Africanized honey bees which caused them to swarm.  The bees began attacking and we all ran to exit the densely covered Arundo patch as quickly as we could.  The two members using brush cutters were hit the hardest and needed medical attention.  Luckily, we were surrounded by great people who were really helpful and got everyone the attention that was needed as quickly as possible. It was quite the experience, but definitely bonded us as a crew and we will now be more aware of the dangers presented by Texas wildlife.

Molly Coffman and Calla Gentiles, ECorps Members

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Another Year With E-Corps

Coming into another year with E-Corps is very exciting for me, I am returning for a second term for good reasons. Last year I learned how to run a chainsaw and how to fell trees that I never thought I would be able to. I helped lead volunteer based recovery efforts for the Joplin, MO tornado as well as the Central Texas Wildfires. I learned about Texas ecology, got to spend some time in the desert (being from Iowa this was very exciting), and was able to be one of the first people to enjoy a trail that my crew built. Aside from the exciting work I really got a opportunity to push myself. Being in a leadership role and acting as a role model for my crew was tough, but extremely rewarding. Physically I pushed myself everyday, including running a saw in 100+ degree heat (this is no easy feat!). Last year through all the good and bad was a really wonderful experience for me and I have no doubt that this next year will be just as good, if not better.

John Messina

John (in blue) with his crew from 2011.