|Getting Things Done - Americorps*NCCC, A Unique Solution to Completing Large Projects
By Sarah Schrader, Goodhue County
In the summer of 2003, eleven energetic volunteers with the Americorps*National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) arrived in Goodhue County and tallied over 1,300 working hours on various projects. Goodhue County had requested an NCCC team to work on projects that were either too large or too time-consuming for the county’s current staff to handle. NCCC offered the solution that Goodhue County needed to get things done and to help staff reach the point of self-sustainability with those projects.
In the photo (non NCCC members) L to R: Commissioners Richard Samuelson (in white shirt), Robert Noah, and James Bryant, County Administrator David Hamilton, and Commissioner Ted Seifert. Team members (not matched to location in photo) include: Brian Gross (in green, Team Leader), Kim Gibbs, Erin Steffan, Rebecca Pizzitola, Ashley Raymond, Dan Koning, Jen Rayl, Caleb Miller, Jason Caratazola, Lauren Smith, and Brooke Pike.
What is NCCC?
Americorps*NCCC is a service program that engages Americans in intensive service to meet the nation’s critical needs in education, public safety, health, and the environment. Team members are between the ages of 18-24, have varying educational backgrounds and are from all over the United States. In exchange for their 10-month commitment to service, each NCCC member receives a $4,725 educational award to go towards school loans or to pay for future schooling.
Being a past NCCC volunteer, GIS Specialist Sarah Schrader understood the benefits for Goodhue County to work with the program. She compiled the request for Goodhue County to be the project sponsor for an NCCC team and organized their work plan. Transportation and some basic tools are provided by NCCC; however, project sponsors are required to provide specialized tools, orientation, training, and technical supervision for the NCCC team. When an NCCC team is based away from their home campus, the project sponsor also works with NCCC to help arrange housing and other logistical needs.
Projects in Goodhue County
During the group’s 4-week stay, they completed projects for the following agencies: Goodhue County, City of Cannon Falls, City of Red Wing, Cannon Valley Trail, and the local YMCA Summer Camp.
Scanning: For Goodhue County, the NCCC team scanned over 600 historical plats, right-of-way maps, railroad maps, and dozens of 36” x 36” pages of imagery from 1938. Once scanned into the system, Goodhue County GIS staff has since been able to archive these images and make many of them available to the public online.
For example, the county’s Survey Department website
currently has the following images available: auditor subdivisions, cemetery plats, condos/CIC’s, county right-of-way maps, Government Land Office plats, Mn/DOT plats, plats, registered land surveys, and city/town roads. Having these documents online has reduced foot traffic in our Survey Office since people can now get the information online and print it on their own.
One of the most valuable projects completed was the scanning of all the hard-copy 1938 imagery files. County GIS staff has since been able to geo-reference that imagery and make the information available to other County departments. In the future, the county would like to add this imagery to its online GIS mapping sites.
The NCCC team also collected GPS coordinates and detailed information for over 270 historical and cultural features in the county such as cemeteries, historical buildings, township and city halls, and churches. This information has since been made available to the county’s Land Use Management and Public Works departments; the public can view locations of township and city halls and historic communities (designated by the Historical Society as ‘ghost towns’) at the Online GIS Mapping Sites
Without the assistance of the NCCC team, these projects would have taken Goodhue County staff many years, if ever, to complete. In times like these when budget belts are tightening, it can be beneficial to research and find non-conventional solutions for your staffing or project problems.
Sarah Schrader served as an Americorps*NCCC member in January – November 2001 and was based in Perry Point, Maryland to serve the northeast region of the United States. Sarah can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org