Energy Corps Alum Spotlight: Becky Roark, Rain Garden Guru

We touch base periodically with former Energy Corps and FoodCorps service members, interns, and folks who have attended our workshops to see what they’ve been up to and how their time with NCAT Southeast impacted them personally and professionally. Read on to hear from former Energy Corps member Becky Roark.

Becky Roark (foreground) learned to conduct home energy assessments during her service term with Energy Corps.
Becky Roark (foreground) learned to conduct home energy assessments during her service term with Energy Corps.

Q: What was your affiliation with NCAT?
Energy Corps Member during 2010-11 at the University of Arkansas Applied Sustainability Center in Fayetteville, Ark.

Q: What are you doing now?
Since October of 2011, I have been employed with the Illinois River Watershed Partnership (IRWP), a local non-profit, watershed organization. The IRWP and Beaver Water District, our local drinking-water supply, each received a grant to install 30 demonstration rain gardens in each respective watershed. I was hired on as the Rain Garden Resource Specialist, overseeing tasks such as the design and installation of rain gardens, development of educational materials, coordinating Rain Garden Academies, and providing technical assistance to those seeking to install a rain garden on their property. To date, we have installed 40 of the 60 gardens, under this three-year grant period. We have held five Academies and our education and outreach efforts, including working with schools, churches, cities and organizations, have reached over 6,000 people.

Rain gardens are landscape features that allow stormwater to infiltrate the ground and replenish groundwater, along with having the capacity to remove pollutants from stormwater such as phosphorus, nitrogen and heavy metals. We primarily use native plant species which are adapted to our region and attract beneficial wildlife.

Q: How did serving with NCAT have an impact on you?
I believe it was the best possible career move and a great transition from college to professional practice. Learning about sustainability and best practices through Energy Corps has proved to be invaluable to me. In fact, it inspired me to dig deeper and want to learn more! Energy and water sustainability awareness have carried on to my current career and I will continue to strive towards learning more and teaching others, and I hope to continue to make a difference in our community.

For more about Energy Corps, visit www.energycorps.org.

To learn more about the Illinois River Watershed Partnership, visit www.irwp.org. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a website devoted to information and resources about watersheds: http://water.epa.gov/type/watersheds/index.cfm.

For more updates about the continuing positive impacts of NCAT Southeast’s programs, visit www.ncat.org/ncat-southeast-regional-office.

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