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AmeriCorps Members Organize Habitat Restoration Volunteer Service Project for Rare Native Bird
Posted: 05/06/2014

On a recent spring morning, three AmeriCorps members with the Iowa DNR caught the attention of a pair of trumpeter swans as they were organizing and leading a volunteer service project.

Many state, national, and private programs like the Iowa DNR and the Trumpeter Swan Restoration Committee exist to increase awareness and provide conservation efforts for the magnificent birds.

One of the known nesting locations for these swans lies just a few blocks east of Clear Lake in northern Iowa. The small pond sits adjacent to Clear Creek Elementary School and provides local school children with a rare opportunity to view wild swans at a close distance.

In the last decade, however, the pond had become overgrown with invasive plants, shrubs and trees making public viewing difficult. More importantly, the area was becoming unsuitable for nesting swans. Realizing the need for habitat restoration around the pond, three AmeriCorps members, Vaughn Wassink, Ryan Wilcke and Ryan Murphy, teamed up to organize a volunteer service project to clear invasive species from the land around the pond.

More than 20 community volunteers helped to cut and pull invasive plants and shrubs from the land surrounding the pond. The pair of trumpeter swans watched intently as AmeriCorps members and community volunteers efficiently cleared the area of any damaging plants and trees. The land around the pond was restored to a healthier, more suitable habitat in only a few hours.

“The volunteers did a great job, working hard and enjoying a little bit of swan biology and recovery history,” said AmeriCorps member Vaughn Wassink. “We were very happy with the outcome. It was the first time this area has been totally cleared of invasive species for about 10 years or more.”

To see photos from the event, check out Iowa DNR AmeriCorps on Flickr at