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FEMA Celebrates Earth Day with AmeriCorps

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FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell (left) and Washington Parks & People Executive Director and President Steve Coleman remove trash from Watts Branch Stream during an Earth Day service project at Marvin Gaye Park April 22.

Each year, Earth Day is an excellent time to remember that Earth is our only home, and we share a responsibility to care for it.

To celebrate Earth Day, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, AmeriCorps Chief Executive Officer Michael Smith and AmeriCorps teams partnered with Washington Parks & People for a service event at the Marvin Gaye Community Center in Washington, D.C. During the event, participants planted a tree, removed invasive species from the park and cleared out debris from surrounding waterways.  The community center is the largest municipal park in the district and is home to over 200 forest plants.

“The community park was a community vision,” said Washington Parks & People Executive Director and President Steve Coleman. “We grow food, grow jobs, and grow hope.”

Washington Parks & People is a non-profit that focuses on communal gardens that eliminate waste and promote community involvement, while developing several urban greening programs in the Washington, D.C. area. They hosted the Earth Day event to help combat the growing litter problem in the district.

Three AmeriCorps teams participated at the community center by cleaning up litter and beautifying the Watts Branch Stream, a tributary of the Potomac River. Team members also participated in removing kudzu, an invasive species from the garden and areas around the recreation center.

“Doing small things like picking up trash in a stream when coupled with other small actions are all important actions in combating climate change,” said AmeriCorps Member Taylor Pehrson, “I’m happy I had the opportunity with AmeriCorps to put time into doing something small that contributed to the bigger picture.”


FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell (far left), AmeriCorps Chief Executive Officer Michael Smith, Parks & People Executive Director and President Steve Coleman (far right) and FEMA Corps team members after the Earth Day service project at Marvin Gaye Park April 22. The team removed trash from the park and planted trees during the event.

During the service event, AmeriCorps members met with Administrator Criswell, as she provided career advice and encouraged the teams to consider working for the government.

 “I appreciated FEMA’s commitment to climate change, and today was a reminder of the new and needed direction FEMA is pursuing,” said AmeriCorps member Matthew Applegate.

The team wrapped up the service event with a discussion held by the new ceremonial tree, planted by Administrator Criswell, Smith, Coleman and various AmeriCorps members earlier in the day.

To learn more about how FEMA is tackling issues related to the climate, including Resources for Climate Resilience, visit  For additional information about the AmeriCorps service program, visit