Hi, my name is Constantin, 19 years old and I’m from Braunschweig in Germany. I graduated from high school in 2014 and was looking for an opportunity to work in a foreign country and to get to know its culture and nature. My geography teacher in high school showed us a presentation about his “conservation experience” which inspired me to search the internet for possibilities to work with and in nature and for other likeminded young and adult people from all over the world. Quickly I found NATUCATE, the team helped me a lot with the organization of my trip and supported me with my visa application and other aspects. I also had the feeling that the NATUCATE team really cared for me and wanted me to have a good time (most of the time I spoke with the founder of NATUCATE).
At my arrival in the US I met someone from the partner organization in North Carolina at the baggage claim and was brought to Asheville with all the other volunteers from Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and New Jersey. After our arrival in Asheville we were given a long presentation about the project. After that our crew leader Jon picked us up to show us the city and some good shops. Since this was my first time in the US I was very impressed by the whole scenery because everything was so different from Germany.
During my first project I was working at a trail-work project in the Cumberland Gap National Park, where the first settlers crossed the Appalachian for the first time. The national park is at the border to Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky. The landscape is overwhelming, especially during fall when all the leaves are changing their color. Being able to enjoy the view from a mountain at the end of a work day makes you feel like a king. After work we usually cooked together, ate around the fireplace and spent the rest of the evening chatting about the day. After two weeks, I started dreaming and thinking in English, because I was also talking English to the German volunteers out of respect for the other volunteers.
My second project was located in North Carolina at Hickory. There we were sent cross country equipped with a machete and a spray bottle to remove the invasive species, which are a threat to the local species. This was a very cool experience. Afterwards I was sent to Arizona.
In Arizona I was living at Flagstaff, which is a very cool city. You can do all sorts of free time activities which are easy accessible by the bikes we could borrow from the project. My project was at the Petrified Forest, a “stone forest”. We had to construct a border fence, because the national park was increased in its size and the neighbor had cows which were roaming free around the new lands of the national park.
Arizona is a cool location: instead of three free days we got six days off, which gave us the opportunity to travel around and visit the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park. There even is a volunteer house in Zion where we could have spent the night, but other volunteers from Flagstaff arrived earlier than us so no room was left.
Conclusion Volunteering US: Overall an amazing experience – I am looking forward to my next trip to the US!