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Jan 24

Linn County Sustainability Teams Up With Green Iowa AmeriCorps

Posted on January 24, 2023 at 1:53 PM by Britt Nielsen

Two GreenIowa Americorps members in front of a wall

Linn County’s Sustainability Deapartment continues partnership with Green Iowa AmeriCorps, as both organizations strive to make Iowa a more environmentally friendly state. This Linn County Connection blog post shares background on the program, highlights our current Green Iowa AmeriCorps members Sydney Evans and Lizzie Weems, and some events residents can look forward to participating in to make our community more environmentally sustainable.  

Green Iowa AmeriCorps 

Green Iowa AmeriCorps is part of the larger AmeriCorps program, a federal program connecting individuals with community projects and service work. Specifically, Green Iowa AmeriCorps collaborates with nonprofits and organizations that work to make communities greener, a mission that aligns with many of the overall goals of Linn County Sustainability. 

Two new members from Green Iowa AmeriCorps joined Linn County Sustainability at the end of 2022: Sydney Evans and Lizzie Weems. While working with Linn County Sustainability, Sydney is also currently completing her master’s in public health at the University of Iowa, College of Public Health in the Department of Community and Behavioral Health.

When asked, “what does sustainability mean to you?” Sydney said, “Sustainability is difficult to define concisely because of the concept’s interconnectedness. Sustainability concerns meeting our own needs without compromising future generations’ ability to meet their own needs. This is complicated, clearly, and involves many facets that all work to create thriving, healthy, and diverse communities now and in the future.”

During her 11-month term with AmeriCorps, she plans to focus on strengthening local food systems to improve equitable food access. The Linn County Food Systems Council (FSC) assessment of the local food system has informed the projects Sydney has chosen to work on. The assessment identified education of both consumers and farmers/growers as an opportunity to strengthen the local food system. To address this opportunity for growth, Sydney will be organizing and planning a food systems symposium that will facilitate creating connections and the networking of food system stakeholders.  Additionally, she is organizing a local farm tour with the help of several local businesses and organizations that aim to educate consumers on the importance of buying locally grown and produced foods.

Lizzie Weems graduated this spring from George Mason University with a bachelor’s degree in Government and International Relations and a minor in sustainability. This past summer, she acted as her hometown’s first-ever sustainability intern and helped address the impacts of climate change for the elderly population. Her passions lie in energy equity and understanding local government’s role in combating the climate crisis while simultaneously balancing economic interests. 

“The Green Iowa AmeriCorps Program placement with the Sustainability Department at Linn County is allowing me to gain hands-on experience of the inner workings of the political process,” said Lizzie. “To me, sustainability is creating conditions for a healthy environment, economic prosperity, and social justice that will ensure a high quality of life for all generations.” 

Lizzie is working closely with the Sustainability and Resiliency Advisory Committee to complete the 2019 Community-Wide Greenhouse Gas Inventory and is in the process of completing another inventory that will evaluate all buildings operated by the County. Upon completion of these reports, she hopes to aid other cities throughout Linn County in the process of how to create their own inventories. She plans to expand on inventory findings by offering events and recommendations that focus on ways in which community members and the County can become more energy conscious. 

Both Sydney and Lizzie are working together to plan and host a series of environmental justice events throughout Earth Month in April that will engage climate vulnerable communities. Details on these events and other Green Iowa AmeriCorps events will be share on the Linn County website and via Linn County’s Facebook page and Twitter page.

This Linn County Connection blog post was written by Green Iowa AmeriCorps Members Sydney Evans and Lizzie Weems.