2020 Corpsmember of the Year: Bex Love, Vermont Youth Conservation Corps

Every year, at The Corps Network’s National Conference in Washington, DC, we honor a select group of exceptional Corpsmembers from our member Service and Conservation Corps. These young men and women have exceeded the expectations of their Corps by exhibiting outstanding leadership skills and demonstrating an earnest commitment to service and civic engagement. The Corpsmembers of the Year are role models; their personal stories and accomplishments are an inspiration to Corpsmembers nationwide.

AmeriCorps Member, The Corps Network Opportunity Youth Service Initiative

“Bex’s demeanor, humor, and positive personality helped the crew be more light-hearted, excited on harder days (it can be quite cold and rainy in Vermont), and have a good time. Because of Bex’s presence on the crew, it is our belief that the whole crew had a better experience.”

Bex Love has always wanted to change the world. As an AmeriCorps member with Vermont Youth Conservation Corps (VYCC), Bex made a big impression on their crewmates while also making a difference on the public lands of the Green Mountain State.

Bex graduated from college with a degree in theater, hoping to use art to make the world a better place. However, Bex became discouraged upon observing that theater is often inaccessible except for a privileged demographic.

Unsure where to focus their energy, Bex decided to take time to travel, learn and reflect. Bex wandered the U.S., meeting new people and volunteering in communities along the way. It was during this time that Bex learned about VYCC. After spending time as a guest in so many communities, Bex was hungry for an opportunity to be part of a community.

Bex came to VYCC unsure of what kind of experience they wanted. Through the interview process, it was determined a Conservation Spike Crew would be a good fit. Bex didn’t have any experience in conservation work or much experience camping, but jumped into the opportunity. This energy was contagious and led the crew to be one of high spirits and strong communication.

Bex’s enthusiasm to try new things, positive attitude, and willingness to engage in meaningful conversations positioned them as a natural leader. Three months into the crew’s experience, one of Bex’s Crew Leaders left for a full-time position. The remaining Crew Leader challenged Bex to step into a non-specified leadership role. The Crew Leader noted that Bex had the passion, experience, and rapport with the crew to be able to fill this key role and help them finish the season successfully.

Unfortunately, however, Bex was diagnosed with Lyme disease partway through the season. They were out for medical reasons for an extended period of time. They experienced challenges with medical logistics, being away from home, and also missing out on service hours. However, Bex expressed determination and dedication to the crew. Bex’s Crew Leader and peers missed them and also knew how important it was for Bex to complete their hours. The crew rallied to complete more education and add additional projects to their season to support Bex in completing the necessary hours. With hard work and the support of the crew, Bex completed all 900 hours on time.

“With the help of my community around me, I had begun to thrive in an environment that was once scary and intimidating,” said Bex. “The Corps experience pushed me out of my comfort zone, and I was able to expand into a stronger version of myself.”

Bex is excited to use their AmeriCorps Education Award and take time off, without the financial stress of student loans, to volunteer with disaster relief efforts in Puerto Rico. In asking Bex if they would come back to VYCC as a Crew Leader, they said they first wanted to take advantage of another AmeriCorps term before aging out of eligibility. After that, however, VYCC hopes Bex will stick around.

“In our eyes, any Corps would be lucky to have Bex in any capacity,” said Nora Woolf, Member Support Manager at VYCC. “Bex is an incredible agent of change, is excited to continue to build community where they travel and work, and will do great things, without a doubt, no matter where they go.”

Bex on the Power of Community:

“Prior to joining Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, I was aching for community. I was so grateful when I found it in my crew. We shared meals, head lamps and laughs. We celebrated each other’s growth. Our community did not grow without conflict, but I found that we came out on the other side of our struggles even stronger as a unit…I hoped for and expected to build this community when joining the Corps, but I never anticipated that our little family would become part of the larger communities in which we served.”