AmeriCorps VISTA Member Joins the Alliance!

By Elena Mederas, Communications Support Specialist
Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Justine Kapitzke, VISTA, AmeriCorps, Spring, Headquarters, Cross Plains
Justine Kapitzke began her year of AmeriCorps VISTA service in April 2021. Photo by Elena Mederas.

The Ice Age Trail Alliance is pleased to welcome Justine Kapitzke as the newest addition to the Alliance communications team! Kapitzke is joining the Alliance as an AmeriCorps VISTA member through Conservation Legacy’s Stewards Individual Placement Program.

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Bemidji State University, Justine Kapitzke, Earth Day, Clean Air, Earth Day March, Students for the Environment
Justine Kapitzke participating in an Earth Day March with Bemidji State University Students for the Environment. Photo by Jordan Morgan.

Kapitzke, originally from Minnesota, was inspired to pursue a career in the environmental field while attending university. As a student employee in the Concordia-Moorhead College cafeteria, she was shocked to witness how much food is thrown out on a daily basis.

This experience was the catalyst for her decision to transfer to Bemidji State University (BSU) and pursue environmental studies. At BSU, she joined the university sustainability club ‘Students for the Environment,’ where she helped coordinate and market events for the club.

The AmeriCorps VISTA position at the Alliance is an opportunity for Kapitzke to apply her passion for conservation and sustainable resource use in a professional setting. She has always been interested in working with an environmental nonprofit, so the Alliance seemed like a perfect fit.

“I’m really passionate about sparking people’s interest in the environment,” shares Kapitzke, “so finding out what inspires people to get out and explore the Ice Age Trail and what inspires volunteers to come back and volunteer for years to help maintain the Trail is really interesting to me.”

As the AmeriCorps VISTA Communications Support Specialist at the Ice Age Trail Alliance, Justine will work closely with the Alliance communications team and assist with the following tasks:

  • Identifying opportunities to promote tourism along the Ice Age Trail, especially in remote areas of the state.
  • Assisting in the preparation and submission of grant proposals.
  • Collaborating with the Alliance’s 19 volunteer chapters to identify gaps in local volunteer needs and skills.
  • Developing best practices in engaging the next generation of volunteers.
  • Cultivating a strong social media presence to better engage the community and raise awareness of the Alliance’s work.

“The core mission of being a VISTA is poverty reduction,” explains Kapitzke. “Even though the Alliance has its headquarters in Cross Plains, it supports the Ice Age National Scenic Trail that goes throughout the entire state and comes into contact with communities at various levels of economic need. And so, the Ice Age Trail has the potential to help provide an economic boost to the communities that it goes through.”

Throughout her VISTA service year, Kapitzke will be supported by both the Alliance and the Stewards Individual Placement Program. As a Stewards VISTA member, she will be able to take part in educational trainings and connect with a nationwide network of fellow AmeriCorps VISTA members.

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Lake Superior, North Shore Lake Superior, Hiking, Justine Kapitzke, IATA Staff
The north shore of Lake Superior is Justine's favorite place to hike and connect with nature. Photo by Matthew Hansen.

Kapitzke is excited to explore the natural wonders of Wisconsin and immerse herself in all-things Ice Age Trail-related. Up next on her list of upcoming adventures is the Devil’s Lake Segment, which she has only seen pictures of.

“The sheer cliff faces remind me of the Superior north shore in Minnesota, which is my favorite place in the world,” shares Kapitzke.

We look forward to working with Justine to conserve, create, maintain, and promote the Ice Age Trail this year.

Welcome to the Ice Age Trail Alliance, Justine!

About AmeriCorps VISTA

The mission of AmeriCorps is to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering. Since 1965, over 220,000 AmeriCorps members in the VISTA program have joined the fight against poverty by helping local organizations expand their capacity to make change. The VISTA program serves in each of the 50 U.S. states and in all U.S. territories.

AmeriCorps VISTA Logo

Through capacity building activities such as fundraising, grant writing, research, and volunteer recruitment AmeriCorps members in the VISTA program serve in an office setting and gain experience and leadership skills. This opportunity prepares members for a life of service in the public, private, or nonprofit sector. Learn more here.

Stewards Individual Placement Program Logo

About Stewards Individual Placement Program

Stewards Individual Placement Program is a program of Conservation Legacy that places individuals across the nation in projects that build capacity, improve access to natural resources, develop and support innovative solutions, develop opportunities for service and economic development, and empower leaders.

Stewards AmeriCorps VISTA Members serve with nonprofits, local governments and federal agencies. Stewards AmeriCorps VISTA Members commit to serving for one year — earning a living allowance of 110% of the poverty wages in the community they serve. These dedicated individuals focus on nonprofit leadership development by building capacity through grant writing and partnership development, conduct outreach and education, promote economic development and foster environmental stewardship. Learn more here.