Written by Bethany Stoutamire (Former SDSU Extension Aging in Place Coordinator AmeriCorps VISTA Member) under the direction and review of Leacey E. Brown.
I’ve always associated summer with change, undoubtedly because the beginning of summer signals the end of the school year, while August bring about a new school year. This summer, like many others, will be one of impending change. My youngest brother will be graduating from high school and going off to college, officially leaving my parents as empty nesters. In August my position with SDSU Extension will end and I’ll move to North Carolina for graduate school.
While it will still be several months before I leave my position, it is still important to me that we find someone to continue the work Leacey and I have begun during my service. What exactly is my position, then and why might it be a good fit for you?
About AmeriCorps VISTA Positions
My position is sponsored through AmeriCorps VISTA, the stateside equivalent of the Peace Corps. The goal of AmeriCorps VISTA is to alleviate poverty by providing support and building sustainable programs within different organizations throughout the country. As a VISTA member, I committed to one year of service in exchange for a stipend, medical reimbursement, and a couple of other benefits. My responsibilities included co-leading our recent housing survey, creating content for iGrow, and laying the foundation for future projects such as one around positive aging.
My position, however, is more than a way to give back to my community or pay the bills, it is an investment in my future. I know that taking a year off to work at SDSU Extension helped develop my skillset and allowed me to explore my interests. For instance, I had taken a demography class during my last semester in college that I was really interested, but because I was graduating, I didn’t have the opportunity to take more classes on this subject. This position allowed me to not only learn more about demographic trends, but also proved that my interest in this topic was not just a passing fancy. My experience helped me realize that graduate school was the right choice for me while simultaneously making me a more competitive candidate. When I was visiting grad schools, I noticed that many of the higher ranked programs had a large portion of students who had taken a break to work as research analysts or in the non-profit sector after receiving an undergraduate degree. (I also need to note, that I am far from the only one who has used opportunities through SDSU Extension as a stepping stone to further their career).
There is also another benefit from my work that I didn’t foresee when I took this position. There is often this connotation when we try to make positive changes in our community that we are laying the ground work for a better world for our children and grandchildren. Working with older populations, however, means that I have the opportunity to create a more age-friendly community for not only myself to grow old in, but also my parents. My research and work on projects related to positive aging has also made me think critically about attitude and gratitude. I am grateful that at the beginning of my adulthood, I was able to dismantle many negative attitudes about aging and believe that I will have a happier, healthier life as a result.
If this sounds like a position that aligns with your interests and goals, I hope you will consider applying. This position is flexible, adaptable, and can utilize a range of skills from research to curriculum development to event planning. This is a great opportunity to work with great people, create positive change throughout communities of South Dakota, and build your own future in the progress. What could be a better opportunity than that?
- Visit the SDSU Extension AmeriCorps VISTA page to learn more about other VISTA opportunities.
- If you want to learn more about the Gerontology VISTA position, contact Leacey Brown.