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Pathways Newsletter

[Image Description: Two MCC members are walking away on a rocky trail, carrying their packs, surrounded by burnt orange bushes. Through the haze in the background, there are a multitude of mountains, overlapping one another.]

Discovering Versions of Me with MCC

Tents in a meadow

As I enter into the last month of MCC’s 2024 Leadership Development Program (LDP), I can’t help but reflect on all the knowledge, relationships, and tools I have gained from the three-month-long program. This year is my third season with MCC and the third time I have been fortunate enough to go through the LDP. Throughout these terms of service, the LDP has been a benchmark of sorts. It’s a time to reflect on my own personal and professional growth. But more importantly, it’s been a time to reflect on the new version of me I’ve discovered in the past year, and set goals for who I want to become.

The beginning of my first season in 2022 as a field crew leader provided support and training to an intimidated and nervous version of myself who was new to the corps world. I spent a good chunk of time practicing technical skills like running a chainsaw, setting up a bear-safe backcountry camp, and gaining trail-building experience. On top of those skills, MCC helped me dive into the “people side” of leading a crew. This included a four-day, statewide gathering called Summit where we focused on everything from group facilitation to courageous conversations, emotional intelligence, and so much more. By the end of my first LDP, I felt set up for success to lead a trail crew for the very first time.

One year and a successful season later, I found myself sitting in a different regional office, gearing up for another season with MCC. But this time in a new, more senior position. As a Senior Crew Leader, I was given more independence and responsibility. I had a similar feeling of nervousness as I had the first year. What made me qualified to mentor other leaders and crews? But, I reminded myself, I knew the sanctuary that the LDP creates for learning, growth, and self-discovery. I could see how much time and thought went into those three months to teach us all the self-confidence and skills to run a healthy, happy, and effective crew. Even though I had already been through much of the same training and lessons, there was never a day that I went to sleep without learning something new. I once again emerged from the LDP, confident and ready to grow into this new senior role.

Flash forward to today in April 2024. I am back again for my second term as a Senior Crew Leader with just a month to go before crew members show up. Knowing this would likely be my last LDP as an AmeriCorps member, I set an intention early on to get all I could out of it. I promised myself I’d become more of the leader that I know I can be. And, I am working hard to prepare myself for my next career steps, whatever they might be. With healthy challenges from myself and the MCC staff, I have been able to step more into my own unique, authentic leadership style. And, with lots of practice, I’ve built true confidence in group facilitation. I’m excited for the upcoming season and look forward to the challenges ahead.

I wish that that intimidated and nervous girl in 2022 could see how far she has come since then. She would be so proud of where I am now. I‘ve experienced immeasurable personal growth and emerged as a confident and intuitive leader. While there may be many experiences, moments, and people that have contributed to that growth, there is no doubt in my mind that MCC’s LDP has played a huge role in it. For three years in a row, it has given me time and space to stretch, flex, and evolve into new versions of myself. Versions that will empower and bolster me on my next steps as a young leader, wherever they may lead.