Volunteering for the Future: Clymer ’11 Lands Job with AmeriCorps VISTA

By schwartzsa | December 6, 2011

Stephanie Clymer ’11 recently landed a position as the AmeriCorps VISTA/Community Liaison at the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership, Inc. (TTF), a local organization focused on improving the health and vitality of the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Creek and its watershed. TTF facilitates, supports, and initiates efforts to restore the health of the watershed through educational programming, community outreach, networking services, and project coordination. In her role, Clymer focuses on education and outreach throughout the watershed, mobilizing community members around issues that affect our waterways, including stormwater runoff, invasive plants, and misuse of green spaces. She has been training for this position for most of her college career.

A Biology major with minors in both Spanish and Environmental Studies, Clymer began her journey as a freshman work study student in the Office of Community Service where she connected with Jeffery Murphy ’07, who pioneered Arcadia’s on-campus recycling efforts. Happy to assist in these efforts, Clymer was inspired to continue his recycling program when he graduated the following spring.

Looking to expand upon Murphy’s initiatives, Clymer began an organization of her own. “I didn’t feel that there was a way to connect to like-minded, environmentally aware students who wanted to make a difference,” says Clymer. “So I proposed a student club that would address environmental concerns both on campus and in the surrounding community.”

The Environmental Network strives to improve upon the health of the environment as well as its people by providing solutions to inefficiency, voicing concerns, as well as making members of the community aware of their behaviors that may be harmful to the planet. Clymer knew that the best way to affect change was by teaming up with another organization with similar goals.

Not long after the club was established, Clymer partnered up with TTF not only to support efforts in the local community, but also to organize events and presentations throughout the watershed. Her involvement built upon the existing relationship between TTF and the University.

In her current position Clymer facilitates the ongoing partnership between Arcadia University and TTF from the TTF headquarters in the Francis Cope House at the Awbury Arboretum. Recently, she led a group of volunteers in planting 23 Philadelphia street trees as part of the Wingohocking Tree Tenders, a tree-tending group established by TTF in partnership with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS).

“I love how happy homeowners are after volunteers plant a tree in front of their house,” says Clymer. “The best part of this job is seeing the positive impact we are having in neighborhoods in Philadelphia and Montgomery counties.”

Since October 2011, she has worked with Arcadia interns, Damian VanHart ’12 and Lauren Suchenski ’12. They volunteer three days a week and work on everything from creating wildlife matching games for kids to fixing office tech issues and distributing information at watershed events.

“Working with Steph in her new role is both fun and interesting at times,” says VanHart. “It is great getting to work with her and the passion she exudes for everything she puts her mind to. It’s a bit different from the club leader I had known before as she has a lot more autonomy to do tasks with her flair. There is a great dynamic that is already built in when you know someone and go work with them.”

After her term with TTF, Clymer plans to apply to Ph.D. programs to study ecology or conservation biology. She is enjoying her year of service before returning to academia.

Clymer will be speaking about her campus and community contributions at the Delaware Valley Green Building Council (DVGBC) Meeting held in the Beaver College Room of the Landman Library on Thursday, Dec. 8, from 8 to 10:30 a.m. The DVGBC will address the challenges of green building financing and valuation, and the opportunities to overcome them.