AmeriCorps Worker Mary Doucette – In Her Own Words

This year the Trust welcomes new AmeriCorps worker Mary Doucette, a native of Brewster.    We interviewed Mary for an article in the newsletter, but the full text printed here in her own words captures much more of Mary’s exuberance and willingness to serve WCT and Wellfleet. 

Growing up on Cape Cod

I was always outside! My mom took me and my siblings to Crosby Beach all the time in the summer, and I spent many weekends hiking through Nickerson State Park. I spent pretty much all my time during my adolescence either at school, in nature, or flipping pancakes at the Brewster Coffee Shop.

Nauset Regional High School Experience

I feel very fortunate to have gone to NRHS, it prepared me so well for college, especially with my writing abilities and techniques (I was a writing tutor at Eckerd College and I think the preparation NRHS gave me was the biggest reason I was able to get that position). I was very heavily involved with the music department, specifically choir, during my time there; I was in concert choir for two years and treble choir for my last two.

Inspirational Teachers

Mrs. Beavan and Mr. Faris were my choir conductors throughout my time at school, and they were very supportive and inspirational individuals. Because of their guidance and support I continued pursuing music in college as an extracurricular activity. I became the president of my college’s a cappella group and during my presidency we were accepted to Carnegie Hall to perform in an international concert (which was sadly postponed due to COVID-19). I was also inspired by Katie Ilkovich, who was my field hockey coach. She is such a memorable part of my high school years, and I always had a great time with her! I think my biggest inspiration however, is my college mentor, Doctor Lisa Miller, who really guided me through my academic journey and has helped me grow as a student and figure out what I want to do with my life.

First awareness of AmeriCorps opportunities

I first really became aware of AmeriCorps while volunteering with the Dennis Conservation Land Trust in the summer of 2018; I worked a few times alongside their ACC placement that year, and then started looking into it myself. In the summer of 2019, I was the intern at the Brewster Conservation Trust and I spent a lot of time with their placement that year, CJ, and got to know more about ACC.

Decision to Join AmeriCorps

I loved working with ACC year 20 and I really enjoyed what I learned about the program itself from seeing it firsthand. I knew I wanted to take a year off between undergrad and grad school, so it really seemed like the best option for me!

Interest in the Environment

Growing up on the Cape definitely influenced my interest in the environment! I am extremely grateful that I was able to grow up in an area where I could go out my front door and be able to walk to the bike path, Nickerson State Park, beaches, and a multitude of trails. I have always been an environmentalist because of this, and my passion continued to grow when I left the Cape for college and was able to experience a wider variety of ecosystems and learn more about the natural world in a higher education setting.

College

I attended Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida and just graduated this past May. I double majored in sociology and environmental studies, with a minor in biology. I love academics and spent a lot of time in the library studying! I am really proud of all that I accomplished in my undergrad career: I was accepted into the Southern Sociological Society’s 2020 annual meeting in a paper session for environmental sociology research I conducted and asked to be the presider for the session; I was part of the American Sociological Association Honors Program at their national conference for a paper on how race and gender influence income in top earners; I was a teaching assistant for Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and for a sociology course; I was a writing tutor; and I was chosen as a research assistant for Doctor Lisa Miller’s work on aging LGBTQ+ individuals. Even with all my academics I still made time for extracurricular activities like a cappella, camping in the Everglades, visiting springs, and adventuring around the St. Petersburg area.

Special Area of ecology

I am really interested in the social aspects of the environment, such as the relationship between human society and the natural world! Aside from that though, I truly enjoy learning about all other facets of ecology. I think it’s crazy how every species has evolved over thousands of years to be just as it is now, and there’s a reason for why it evolved that way! It is just mind boggling.

Accomplishments with the Brewster Trust

Over the past two summers as their intern, I have done a lot with the BCT! I’ve made over 50 maps for them, an environmental education video series, installed a kiosk and a bridge, and have learned to use all the power tools in their shed. I think my top accomplishment though, is the mere fact that over the course of two summers I never got poison ivy, and only had one run in with a tick.

Changes Last March

In March, my college closed the campus, and my two friends and I packed up a Penske truck and drove straight home. I then finished up my last semester of college online, which had its challenges, but I made it through and graduated in my kitchen surrounded by my family!

Work Schedule 

I serve with Wellfleet Conservation Trust on Tuesdays, and then on Wednesdays and Thursdays I am with the Brewster Conservation Trust. On Mondays and Fridays, I partake in group service with my team to help service partners, like the WCT, carry out projects.

Wellfleet Tasks

I will be updating their current Wellfleet Open Space map, and hopefully will be able to do more GIS work for the WCT. I will also be helping update and manage their property books, create new ones, etc. Outside of the office, I will be helping with land stewardship efforts, such as inspecting properties, engaging with volunteers, doing trail maintenance (and hopefully creating a trail).

AmeriCorps Arrangements this Year

This year, AmeriCorps Cape Cod has four houses as opposed to the usual three (now there is one in each section of the Cape). Three other members and I live in the newest addition, the Devine House in Chatham. We combine with the LeHac house in Wellfleet to make up the Outer Cape team! There are also less members, 16 instead of 24. This way we can be evenly spread out across the Cape, with four members in each house and supervisors in two of the houses.

Family

My family is from Brewster, so I am only a ten minute drive away, so I am able to stop by my parents’ house to visit my mom, dad, younger sister, and our two Bernese mountain dog puppies (Ellie, 10 months old; Tucker, 6 months old). I also have an older brother who lives in Boston, and an older sister who is doing a fellowship at the Newport Mansions this year! I am 100% a dog person, so I stop by my parents’ house often to see my dogs; the two pups get so unbelievably excited when I pull into the driveway and I will never get tired of it.

Favorite Activities

I love rollerblading, it’s one of my biggest passions! I try to get out on the bike path as often as I can and skate for miles. Skating is one thing that without fail, puts a smile on my face and puts me in a great mood. I have to admit that I do dance while I’m on my skates, there’s just nothing like popping in my headphones and skating to the rhythm. I also love making music, whether that be singing, playing the ukulele, practicing the drums (I am a beginner still), dabbling on the piano, or writing songs. I may not be the best at any of them, but it’s definitely a creative outlet and so I jam out whenever possible. My team hangs out a lot (safely and socially distanced), and so it has been a lot of fun showing my teammates around the Cape; they make doing tourist-y things fun.

Future plans

I am currently in the process of applying for sociology Ph.D. programs where I plan to study environmental sociology and become a researcher and professor. I particularly want to study environmental inequality and how climate change has and will continue to impact different minority groups (mainly race and gender).

Other facts about MaryI love volunteering! On the Cape, I have volunteered with Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, Eastham WildCare, Dennis Conservation Land Trust, and Sipson Island Trust. I also spent three weeks in Peru building a school in the outskirts of Lima as a service project with my college, which was a humbling and beautiful experience both while working on the school and because we were able to travel around the county, we saw the Nazca lines from a plane, and hiked Machu Picchu!

I have been vegan for almost five years now!

The more dirt and sweat I have on me by the end of the day, the more satisfied I am with my work! I love working in the field and getting into the thick of it, whether it’s crawling through brambles to pull garlic mustard, or trekking through a drainage ditch while dodging poison ivy to get coordinates for a map, I am game for anything.

So there you have it – our hard working, singing, dog-loving, rollerblading, vegan, down in the dirt, vibrant Mary Doucette.

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