Katrina French, Jackson, Mississippi
Katrina was an AmeriCorps*NCCC team leader at the time of the BP oil spill, and her team was the first deployed to assist the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service (MCVS)’s volunteer coordination efforts. Katrina recognized the need for the local community to lead and be involved in the response to the oil spill, and she worked tirelessly with her team to identify needs, rally and build capacity for local organizations to engage local volunteers, and keep the community engaged and empowered in their own response. Katrina’s team launched and managed 3 Volunteer Response Centers in the 3 MS Coastal counties, and tracked information to keep officials, as well as thousands of potential registered volunteers from around the world, engaged and informed during the response. Katrina’s team also managed the Coastwatchers program, a volunteer project developed by MCVS to engage local volunteers in providing reports about potential oil washing ashore to Unified Command, as well as the local Emergency Managers to ensure quick deployment of clean-up crews. This program was recognized by Unified Command staff as one of the most effective uses of local volunteers in the response effort.
After her year as an AmeriCorps*NCCC team leader was over, Katrina returned to Mississippi in August of 2010 as an Oil Spill AmeriCorps VISTA. She continues to work to rally the community around recovery, working with local and state agencies, nonprofits, and residents to engage volunteers in economic development, environmental and mental health projects to further the recovery. In April she organized the Love Your Beach Day, a Global Youth Service Day project that engaged over 50 local youth volunteers in environmental service learning projects, empowering local youth with knowledge about their own local ecology, the effects of the oil spill, and how they could help to mitigate further damage.