DES MOINES - Iowa's Keepers of the Land AmeriCorps members have been deployed to help in flooded areas along the Missouri in the coming weeks, participating in sand bagging, managing volunteers and assisting homeowners with evacuation.
The DNR's program is the only state AmeriCorps program in the nation that has a cooperative agreement with FEMA, the Governor, the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Services, and the Corporation for National and Community Service to provide disaster response and assistance. In recent years, members have been deployed in response to flooding in Des Moines, Cedar Falls and at Lake Rathbun; to the tornado in Parkersburg and other disasters, such as the Lake Delhi damn break.
"Our AmeriCorps members are specifically trained to help with disaster situations," says Dawn Stohs, KOLAC program director. "And unfortunately, they have been called upon to use these skills several times in the last few years."
Members helping in western Iowa will be working out of the Siouxland Volunteer Center in teams of 15 for week-long periods. They will be working at least the next three weeks and may be through early August.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Keepers of the Land AmeriCorps program, with its nearly 100 members, normally focuses on caring for and engaging in environmental stewardship and awareness in Iowa's state parks, forests, fisheries and wildlife areas. AmeriCorps members work to link urban populations to nearby fishing opportunities, help state park visitors participate in healthy activities, engage school children in activities designed to connect them to their environment, improve water quality, restore wildlife habitat and construct new outdoor recreation trails.
Iowa's Keepers of the Land AmeriCorps program is part of the national AmeriCorps program established in 1994. AmeriCorps engages nearly 75,000 adults each year in service to meet critical needs in education, the environment, public safety, homeland security and other areas. In return for their 10- to 12-month period of service, AmeriCorps members receive an education award that can be used to pay for college or to pay back qualified student loans.