Monthly Archives: January 2019

Alumni Spotlight: Nathan Stahley

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Nathan Stahley was a team leader for the YVC program in Billings, Montana. He helped launch the program in 2008, and stayed with the program until 2012. We caught up with Nathan and asked him a few questions about how working with YVC youth shaped his life. 

What is one of your favorite memories as a member of YVC?

One of my favorite memories was of a unique summer project we did. We had about ten youth volunteers participate, and the project was a week long. It was a video project where the students brainstormed a topic the first day of the week, and then we did everything from story boarding to filming and editing video. It was very interactive and engaging and students were able to select if they wanted to be behind the camera or in front of it. They chose to focus the short film on examining student perspective of what qualities make for a quality teacher. We held interviews of students to capture their voice. The last day of the project we did a small showing of our film to the parents of YVC students, and we also made plans for teachers to watch the short film that fall. It was a fantastic project for different personalities to engage in a creative way and learn the basics of film making. I really saw some bonding between the YVC members that participated, and they were all passionate about the work we were doing.

How did being involved with YVC affect your life/career path?

Being involved with YVC was a wonderful learning and growing experience for me. I was lucky enough to be part of starting the program in Billings, MT, through the United Way of Yellowstone County. From helping write the original grant that kick-started the program to growing the program, I felt lucky to be part of that process. After three, nearly four, years of being part of YVC as a leader I left United Way but stayed in the communities working at the local City-County Health Department. The following two years I continued to work directly with youth, focusing on tobacco prevention and suicide prevention efforts. I continue to work in at the health department on these issues. My positive experience working with YVC students really showed me the potential of engaging youth in positive ways. As I have continued to work in Public Health, I have become more familiar with not only how these positive relationships can impact future citizenship, but also how it can prevent chronic disease in adulthood. It is so important to have someone in a youth’s life that can help them navigate stressful situations in a healthy way, and I believe YVC is doing that through service projects led by positive adult role models.

What is one of your biggest life events from the past five years?

One of the most challenging, but rewarding, changes for me recently has been moving into a management role at the local health department. It has been rewarding to be able to coach and guide a team of five and the work they do to prevent youth tobacco use and address other population-level health concerns. It has been a real change for me, as I have been more removed from the ground level of the work than ever before. I have seen it as an opportunity to apply the different skills I have learned over the years to move programs forward, and I have enjoyed tackling problems with great a great staff. Being able to innovate to address new public health concerns like teen vaping is one of many challenging yet rewarding topics our team has had to address recently.

What’s a unique fact about you that people don’t know?

One thing that not everyone may know about me is that I really enjoy music, and when I am not working I am either making music or listening to it (live or on my headphones). I play percussion in a local band, and this last year we have written almost a dozen original songs and played gigs across the community. The creative process with a group of five has been such a valuable experience and form of self-care to help prevent “burnout” from the stresses of work. We are looking at recording some of tracks in 2019 and hope to establish ourselves in the small but growing music scene in Billings, MT.

Is there anything you want YVC alumni to know about you now?

Since I have stayed in Billings, MT, I have continued to support my local YVC when I have the time. In 2018 I joined the Youth Leadership Council for our local YVC to help foster continued youth leadership in our program.  Volunteering in this way has been a great way to see the progress YVC has made after I left my formal role in 2012. I would encourage all alumni to find ways to continue your YVC journey no matter where you might be now.

Thank you to Nathan for taking the time to speak with us and share more about his life and how YVC has helped him find his path. 

Did YVC make an impact on your life? We want to connect with you! Sign up for our Alumni Network to connect with other alumni and share your story.

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Hasta la VISTA!

Posted by Youth Volunteer Corps on

Jake and Sydney both started at Youth Volunteer Corps as AmeriCorps VISTAs in late November of 2017. As their terms end at YVC, they reflect on their time and how they’ve grown over the year. We have asked Jake and Sydney to share some of their thoughts and memories as they move forward in their professional careers.

 

Check out current career opportunities with YVC! 

 

 

Q: What was the most meaningful experience that you had?

Sydney: Last year for YVC Day, I joined a YVC project in Kansas City at the Kansas City Community Kitchen. I had such a great time! I had been talking the talk but not walking the walk so to speak, and having the chance to join in on a project, meet YVC youth, and see our impact was really meaningful.

Jake: The entirety of Summit was meaningful to me. Since Summit was towards the end of my term, it was really cool to see all of the youth that I had been helping both directly and indirectly for the last year. It really put the scope and importance of YVC into perspective for me.

Q: How did you grow from your term?

Sydney: In too many ways to list. Perhaps the biggest way I’ve grown is my confidence in myself. YVC pushes you to take on new projects and initiatives that help you grow as a professional (and as a person), and I am much more confident in my spectrum of skills and the assets I can bring to a team.

Jake: My skills have grown exponentially since I began my term. I joined YVC fresh out of college with very little experience under my belt, and am now leaving with more new skills than I can even count. I was told by multiple people that I came off as increasingly more confident professionally the longer I worked at YVC.

Q: What is one of your favorite memories during your term?

Sydney: Going to our national Summit conference in Charleston, SC! I loved meeting all of our incredible affiliates and learning more about the work that they do. It was such a fun, exhausting, and exhilarating trip and I’d go back in a heartbeat.

Jake: Definitely making the introduction video for Summit. Sydney and I created the outline and script, and then I was mainly in charge of the filming and editing. We put aside a half-day to get the whole office involved, which was a lot of fun.

Q: How has your VISTA term prepared you for future jobs?

Sydney: One thing that I loved about my VISTA term is that we weren’t treated like interns – we jumped right in and had the opportunity to tackle “big kahuna” sized projects. I have never felt more prepared for an interview, as I have taken on a wide variety of projects and tasks and can talk about them for as long as a person will allow me. YVC truly cares about your personal and professional growth, and I appreciate that in an employer.

Jake: Throughout my VISTA term I have been afforded tons of opportunities to gain the professional experience I have wanted. I plan on moving into a career in advertising after my term has ended, and YVC and VISTA have allowed me to grow whatever skills I need to set me up for success.

Q: What are you most proud of?

Sydney: Writing a grant and being awarded $30,000 from it. The day I opened that letter, I almost fell out of my chair I was so excited.

Jake: It is a tie between creating websites for our seven new programs in Kansas and Missouri, or the summer youth recruitment plan I created for each of these new sites. I created the websites with almost no web design experience, and the recruitment plan allowed me to work with a budget for the first time, so they were both important projects for me.

Q: What will you miss the most when you leave YVC?

Sydney: What I’ll miss most is the office culture and the friends I have made. One of the most important things that I have learned is what my ideal office culture looks like: welcoming, supportive, fun, dynamic, motivational – I could go on! My coworkers have become my friends, and I will definitely miss seeing their faces every day.

Jake: I’m really going to miss seeing the YVC team every day. It is going to be very difficult for my next job to live up to the wonderful environment YVC has offered. On the bright side, I have made friends with everyone I work with here, so I plan on seeing them a lot more in the future.

Q: What advice would you give to new and potential VISTAs who want to work with YVC?

Sydney: Probably the hardest part about living as a VISTA is the living allowance – as one who is helping eradicate poverty, your pay is at a poverty level. However, it IS doable (plus the education award at the end of your term to pay for college is SWEET), and I definitely think it’s ultimately worth it. My year at YVC is one I will never regret; I’ve learned so much and have been surrounded by some of the most amazing people I will ever meet.

Jake: You should be certain the VISTA lifestyle is for you. A VISTA term can be extremely rewarding, but you should always consider if you are able to make the financial and economic sacrifices necessary to be a VISTA.

Q: Any final thoughts you’d like to share?

Sydney: I cannot recommend working at YVC enough. There hasn’t been a day that I’ve woken up in the morning and dreaded going to work, and I think that says a lot. My VISTA term has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences in my life, and I am so happy that I had a chance to work here. Now that my term is up, it’s time for someone new to step in have the same opportunity that I did. That person is you!

Jake: I just want to thank everyone at YVC for not only being so welcoming and inclusive, but also genuinely supportive and caring of my future endeavors and me. It is rare to find such a perfect group of people that all get along and enjoy each other’s company so much, but that is exactly what YVC is.  Everyone at YVC has played a huge role in my professional and personal growth, and for that, I am extremely grateful.

YVC is looking for new VISTAs! We hope you consider joining the team. 

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