WVWA Community Pot Luck at Jacob's Well Natural Area
This is an archived article. Enjoy reading about Jacob’s Well, please take note that major changes have taken place since 2013. Current information can be found here.

Members of the E-Corps program of American YouthWorks at work

Community Pot Luck
Wimberley Valley Watershed Association
Sunday June 7, 2009, 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM
Presentation by Parc Smith, Environmental Corps Program Coordinator
Camp Jacob Watershed Education Center

Parc Smith, head of the E-Corps program for American YouthWorks, will present information on the program and the plans for the E-Corps work at Jacob's Well Natural Area this summer at a Community Potluck and Discussion to be held at the Camp Jacob Education Center on June 7, 2009 from 4:30 to 6:30 PM. All community members are invited to attend, bring a dish or prepared food to share, and participate in the discussion of the plans for restoring the land and developing a network of trails.

What is the Environmental Corps? They're young. They're energetic. They're committed to hard work and green living. And they're coming to Camp Jacob this summer.

The Environmental Corps (E-Corps) is a group of young people who will be helping to restore the land surrounding Jacob's Well and developing an extensive trail system for the natural area. They are developing skills and creating career opportunities for their future. The work will be physically challenging, but that is expected by the young people who are members of the work crew for this project. Busting up asphalt, picking up trash, spreading topsoil and reseeding vegetation are the main tasks for the teams working to restore the land in the Jacob's Well Natural Area that was once an RV park.

On May 1, 2009 the work crew began clearing and cleaning up the savannah on a bluff overlooking Cypress Creek. This spot on the creek is blessed with Jacob's Well where the clear water that surges from underground springs forms an enticing aquamarine pool. The savannah above the creek is the new homebase for Camp Jacob. The first day of work found the teams of young men and women hard at work with shovels and rakes and pickaxes while a backhoe scooped up pavement. The remains of driveways and concrete slabs peppered with wires and pipes left from the plumbing and electrical hook ups of the RVs were carted away in wheelbarrows, trailers, and pickup trucks. The piles of peeled back asphalt are now small mountains of dark lumps that will be hauled away, leaving the land closer to the natural beauty of tall grasses rippling in the wind.

The E-Corps is composed of young people working on projects to improve the environment. Some are completing their high school degrees after initially dropping out of school; they now attend classes through the American YouthWorks High School, based in Austin. Other members are AmeriCorps National Service volunteers, college students or graduates who have signed on to volunteer their time and talents to better communities throughout the country. On the work site, they all wear olive green t-shirts and hardhats that identify them as members of the E-Corps.

The E-Corps team that will be restoring the land this summer at Jacob's Well Natural Area will also be camping there, giving the crew a chance to become very well acquainted, not only with the land, but with the community they are serving. In the tradition of the Civilian Conservation Corps, the E-Corps works on projects that promote environmental conservation with a community focus. Their training enables them to do trail construction, chainsaw safety and operation, fence building, tree planting, removal of non-native plants, wildland fire fuels reducation, erosion control, stone carving, building of retaining walls, as well as trash pick up and hauling of unwanted materials from work sites. Upon the completion of their term of service, members earn an education award for college, trade schools or funds to pay off their student loans.

One young woman, a student at the American YouthWorks Charter School who worked at Camp Jacob on May 1 and 2, spending the night in a tent on the savannah, said that she enjoyed being in such a quiet and beautiful place and hoped to return to work in the summer. Another student wanted to discuss the possibility of melting and reusing the asphalt he was throwing into a wheelbarrow. He had been reading about such a process in his schoolwork and now found himself working with the hopefully reusable chunks of tar and gravel. During a break in the work, as team members sat on a small heap of asphalt, one student said this was more comfortable than many places where they rest.

The plans for the summer include bringing a team of 10-12 students out to work on the extensive network of trails that will be part of the Jacob's Well Natural Area. They will also erect fences and gates that designate the boundaries of the natural area. The team will be pitching tents and living at Camp Jacob where the Educational Center has bathrooms and a kitchen to keep them fed and healthy. They will return to their homes for the weekends, but will also spend some time in the town of Wimberley, getting to know the place and some of the people who will benefit from their work.

For more information about the event, please contact David Baker at 512-722-3390 or go to the WVWA website. For questions regarding the E-Corps, call Parc Smith at 512-423-2887.