King County resident profiles – Volunteers’ leader
EarthCorps AmeriCorps staff person Mike Friedhoff leads volunteer events in Kirkland and elsewhere. His co-workers describe him as “charismatic and inspiring.” Thanks Mike for visiting with us, and for everything you do!
Q: How did you get started with EarthCorps?
A: I first began working with EarthCorps in February of 2012 as a Corps member and never thought that I would love working with volunteers. I remember my first volunteer event - it was April at Duwamish Alive, one of the largest events that EarthCorps hosts each year, and I was terrified at the idea that I had to lead a group of 30 volunteers. I was petrified until the moment that I was front and center explaining the work that we were going to do for the day, and then my nerves were settled.
The rest of the event went about the same, thinking I was going to do something hugely wrong, but everything going well in the end. At the end of the event is when it really hit me that working with volunteers was very inspiring. When my program ended I decided to come back for a second year as a Volunteer Specialist, with a greater focus working with and managing volunteers.
Q: How were you inspired when you were younger?
A: I enjoy working with volunteers because I remember one of my teachers, Mr. Finn, and how excited he got me about Marine Biology - the stories he told and the passion that he had. I was inspired to want to help the environment. Now that I am working with volunteers, a lot of the time youth, I just hope that I can be that spark to motivate someone to go into the environmental field.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your work?
A: I really enjoy seeing the amount of work a group of volunteers can get done in four hours. It is especially amazing when a large event such as Duwamish Alive happens and there are 700-plus people all working to clean up a park.
Q: How many communities have you helped?
A: When I first think about that question, I want to say that each park that I work in, I help that community. But at the same time I have to think about all the volunteers and the fact that they may not live in that area, but could also be helping their community as well. It is somewhat of a ripple effect. I could help teach someone how to pull out invasive weeds in one area, and they take their skills and apply it elsewhere.
Q: How can people get involved in outdoor environmental volunteering?
A: There are many different ways that people can join in and help out the environment, and going to weekly volunteer events is only one way to do this. There are many other programs that organizations like EarthCorps have. One option would be to become a Forest Steward for a site. Forest Stewards are trained on how to take care of a park or green space that one feels particularly passionate about, or lives close to. This means that you would be learning how to run and manage volunteer events. You would learn in-depth about the ecosystem of the park, and you would be responsible to help make sure the park is healthy.
(Interview has been condensed and edited)
Updated: May. 13, 2016