Serving as an Eco3 Summer Associate

Ecolibrium3 is hosting three AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associates who are serving 10-week terms over the summer months. Wren, Joel, and Kiefer have been working on the Pay It Forward PPE Project, and have agreed to share a little bit about themselves and their experiences thus far.

Wren Leith, Eco3 AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate 2020

Hello, my name is Wren and I am an AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate at Ecolibrium3. I am originally from the Barnum area. Currently, I am studying Geography and GIS at Gustavus Adolphus college. In my free time I like to hike, read, and listen to podcasts. 

The main project I am currently working on is Eco3’s Pay It Forward PPE initiative. The main goals of the project are:

  • Organize volunteer groups to produce 340,000 face-shields. 
  • Sell face-shields to local hospitals and businesses
  • Donate profits from face-shields to local nonprofits in sums of up to $1,000 

My main responsibilities in this project have been assisting volunteers with assembling face-shields, packaging shields to be distributed to local hospitals and businesses, and brainstorming ways to improve volunteer sessions.

My favorite part of the Summer Associate Position thus far has been chatting with all of the community members who have come out to volunteer. I have learned a lot both about individuals in our community and generally about many local groups and organizations.

Joel Bransky, Eco3 AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate 2020

My name is Joel Bransky and I’m an AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate at Ecolibrium3. I was born here in Duluth and as a kid I played baseball in my backyard and football in my side yard, went mountain biking in Hartley, and swam in the big lake. I attended Chester Park, Woodland, and Central, all of which are now closed. My family jokes that when it comes to schools I have the kiss of death.

After graduating from St. Olaf College (still apparently open) in 2014 I’ve been lucky to work and travel around the United States, and I recently got back from two years teaching English at a middle school in South Korea. That was an interesting and memorable experience. It also gave me an appreciation for where I’m from, and I decided I wanted to spend a year doing service in Duluth. The timing of the Pay It Forward PPE project was perfect. I’m glad Ecolibrium3 took me on.

For the past couple weeks the PPE project has been firing on all cylinders. My job there, as I see it, is to keep the machine running. I show volunteers how to make face shields, I bring them supplies and cheerful conversation, I choose fun music to play over the PA, and, of course, I package the brand-new shields for delivery to St. Luke’s or Essentia. It’s satisfying to see the raw materials come in, become something useful through volunteer power, and then roll out the door in neatly shrink-wrapped batches of 10,000 shields. 

With the other Summer Associates, Wren and Kiefer, I also worked at Ecolibrium3’s office a few days, recruiting volunteer groups and planting a garden out back. If everything shapes up in the garden, we should have quite a haul come August! Between the PPE project and the garden I’ve been pleased with the variety of the work. These projects have been a great opportunity for me to give back and I’m proud to be a part of them.

Kiefer Marchel-Hoff, Eco3 AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate 2020

Hello! My name is Kiefer Marchel-Hoff, and I’m an AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate with Ecolibrium3! I’m freshly graduated with a double major in GIS and Geography through UMD, and am eager to use my knowledge and skillset to help benefit the community. Currently, I’m working with PPE in order to construct field shields to be distributed to frontline healthcare workers throughout the region. I have plans to use my GIS skills to help analyze and address this project (and potentially others). Outside of volunteering I enjoy playing guitar and creative writing. I look forward to contributing this summer!