Shawna spent two Minnesota GreenCorps service years in her adopted city, Duluth. As an Urban Forestry member, she served with Duluth's municipal Parks and Recreation division, where she conducted a complete inventory of the city’s boulevard trees. Accomplishing such a big task involved recruiting, training, and managing 15 volunteers to assist—responsibilities all managed by Shawna.
She oversaw volunteer tree planting events and planned Duluth’s annual Arbor Day celebration. She conducted community outreach about invasive species, such as Emerald Ash Borer, and assisted the city's tree commission on various projects.
She also helped hold street construction contractors in compliance with Minnesota Department of Transportation specifications for tree planting. Her diligence then is helping to improve the survival rate of trees that otherwise would have died from improper planting.
Shawna says that learning how local government works, and Duluth’s in particular, was very valuable. Even more valuable was what she gained personally: "I was able to immerse myself in a community in a way that I would not have otherwise, and really learn about it and take ownership within it.” She added: “I learned how to do a job with an attitude of service. I learned how to incorporate civic engagement into life and will forever be more civically engaged than I would have had I not done Minnesota GreenCorps.”
Currently, Shawna is working two part-time jobs. Her job with the city of Duluth builds on what she was doing with GreenCorps, and involves community outreach and education relating to the city’s urban forest. In her second job, she is the Active Transportation Coordinator for the Healthy Duluth Area Coalition, where she works on community-based bike education, workplace wellness as it relates to bike commuting, assistance to businesses that want to be more bike-friendly, and policy initiatives relating to biking and walking, among others.
“I feel that my GreenCorps service experience was almost solely responsible for getting me my current job with the Coalition,” Shawna said. “I didn’t have the education/degree that was asked for on the job posting, and I lacked some of the skills that were preferable, but I brought skills and relationships that I developed in my GreenCorps service that ended up being more valuable to this organization than those that I was lacking.”
“Moral of the story: Capitalize on the skills and relationships you’ve gained in your service,” said Shawna. “These things are transferrable to any job, so even if a job you like seems completely unrelated to your GreenCorps experience, or any job experience and/or education, it doesn’t mean you are not qualified.”