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Big Accomplishments from GrizzlyCorps Fellows

July 29, 2022

GrizzlyCorps Overview

GrizzlyCorps is a AmeriCorps fellowship launched in 2020 designed by Project Climate at UC Berkeley’s Center for Law, Energy & the Environment in partnership with CaliforniaVolunteers. The program sends recent college graduates into rural communities across California to promote regenerative agri-food systems and fire and forest resilience.

MWPA has been privileged to host two GrizzlyCorps fellows, Maria Schmitt and Josh Hampshire, this past year. Sadly, their MWPA fellowships are coming to an end, but their accomplishments will last long into the future. We wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors and feel certain that we will be working with them both again soon. Below are some of their contributions over the past year.

Maria’s Contributions  

During her fellowship Maria focused on educational outreach and assisting with both incoming and outgoing grants. She worked to organize two webinars, one on prescribed fire and the other on forest health, as well as a field trip for MWPA’s environmental stakeholders. Maria also created a digital resource library, so that members of the public can see some of the literature that we use to inform our work.

Maria also spent a significant amount of time working on grant writing to help bring additional funding to the MWPA. This included assisting with the authoring and editing of the CalFIRE Fire Prevention grant, which will bring $3.25 million into the MWPA for the creation of the Greater Ross Valley Shaded Fuel Break over the next several years.

Maria has spent months supporting our Community Grant program both through the launch as well as the week to week administration. This program has led to over $100,000 in grant funding being administered in the last seven months. Maria has also completed over 250 hours of external training including a wildland firefighter certification, a wilderness first responder certification, CPR and epinephrine certifications, a 12-week course on community mitigation best practices, and trainings on CEQA, ArcGIS, California biodiversity, prescribed fire, and more.

Josh’s Contributions

During his fellowship, Josh assisted in the development of MWPA’s Work Plan web portal, assisted the smaller West Marin member agencies with project planning, and helped Fire Safe Marin to develop and distribute some of their many forms of outreach.

Each year MWPA and its 17 member agencies must decide how Measure C tax dollars will be allocated towards projects across the 5 zones. The web portal was developed this year to streamline that process, create a more accessible Work Plan and allow the MWPA to track the completion and maintenance of these projects over time. The development of this portal uncovered critical questions in such areas as the allocation of dollars towards environmental compliance, the evolution of projects from planning, to implementation, to maintenance, and the most effective way to collect data while not detracting from member agency resources. This opportunity provided Josh with insight into the mechanics of governmental organizations and the challenges of cross jurisdictional environmental planning.

While helping develop the Work Plan web portal, Josh was able to assist agencies in uploading project proposals to this new platform. He gave presentations to the Advisory Technical Committee on its progress and met with agency staff one-on-one to answer questions and draft proposals. Through this process he was able to apply insights from one project to another and learn from experiences with separate agencies. An example of this is applying the framework used by Panorama Environmental for the treatment prescription of a roadside fuel break in Muir Beach in the drafting of a similar prescription with Stinson Beach. Other proposals he helped curate include Fire Safe Marin’s suite of educational initiatives, many of which he will be working on as a member of the Fire Safe Marin team next year.

Of Fire Safe Marin’s many forms of outreach, the most demanding and rewarding for Josh to assist in was Ember Stomp, Marin’s 1st Wildfire Prevention Festival. This festival brought together community and industry leaders for a day of education and celebration. An estimated 2000 residents were in attendance and partners came away exhausted from a day full of meaningful interactions. Wildfire is an intimidating and sometimes traumatic topic for people all over the world, Ember Stomp softened these topics in the context of music and games and helped reassure residents of Marin that there are few places more prepared.

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