Community service event at military park Saturday

Published 9:40 am Thursday, December 1, 2016

One way locals can contribute to the community during the giving season is through service.

The Vicksburg National Military Park is hosting a community service event at the park from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday in conjunction with AmeriCorps Crew River 5 Team.

“This event specifically, I think, is really cool because it has this AmeriCorps aspect,” VNMP volunteer coordinator Molly Cadwell said. “Its bringing together two organizations and giving people the chance to interact with these AmeriCorps members and letting AmeriCorps members get to know the community that they are serving in. It’s really important.”

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The main job volunteers will take on this weekend is to remove privet, an invasive flowering plant species.

“It’s an invasive species, so it’s not from here. It crowds out all the other native plants, and there’s not anything that occurs naturally here that could keep it in check. It just takes over really easily and really quickly and crowds out all the native species that are actually suppose to be here,” Cadwell said.

Participants are encouraged to bring a water bottle and wear pants, long sleeved shirts, layers and work boots or sneakers. It is expected to be a dirty job, especially with the recent rain, and participants should anticipate mud.

Safety equipment, tools, training and lunch will be provided for volunteers. The participants will meet at the maintenance building located down the tour road and then left on the service road. The volunteer day will have to be canceled if it is raining, but Cadwell said cold temperatures would not deter the project.

She said there are many reasons why people should spend their Saturday volunteering at the park.

“To me the important reasons are you get to be a part of the community, and you get to meet other people who also care about this community, care about Vicksburg and care about the park service,” she said. “The park is a really great resource, and really we can’t do all the things we do without volunteers.”

Cadwell said the volunteer opportunity is ideal for students because they can work with the AmeriCorps members and learn about the organization.

“The idea behind having it geared toward students was they might one day want to participate in AmeriCorps after graduating from high school or college,” Cadwell said. “I’m hoping this will be a good opportunity for the people of Vicksburg to interact with this crew and get to understand a little bit more about what AmeriCorps is about.”

Even though the opportunity is a good one for the younger crowd, Cadwell said all ages are welcome to be a part of the project because it is for the community.

In addition to helping out the park, people can meet AmeriCorps members and learn about their mission.

“We’re hoping that we’ll get a lot of students, but I do think it’s important that the whole Vicksburg community gets to interact with these AmeriCorps members and get to know a little bit about what they do,” Cadwell said.

This AmeriCorps Crew of 10 is scheduled to work on a couple projects at the park for four weeks.

“Given that their headquarters is here and they’re usually sent out to other places, I thought it’d be a really great opportunity for them to get involved in the community since they are so often sent elsewhere,” Cadwell said.

She hopes to see at least 20 to 30 people at the event Saturday. Registration to participate is preferred as soon as possible for Cadwell to have a count of how much equipment and food to provide, but the deadline is 5 p.m. Friday.

Those under 18 must receive permission from a legal guardian. To register, contact Cadwell at or 601-629-8133.