Hi! I’m Will Southard, an AmeriCorps member serving with Richland Creek Watershed Alliance as the Outreach Coordinator. I will be assisting with the Riparian Renewal Program, restoring the Richland Creek’s habitats through eradication of invasive plants and re-planting of native species in riparian buffers. I’ll be doing social media and website content, helping with educational workshops, and planning community outreach activities. You may also meet me representing RCWA with the Nashville Waterways Consortium’s R!VIVE Nashville campaign.
I graduated from the University of Virginia (UVA) this year, studying environmental science with a hydrology focus. I gained additional experience in community programming in college, and interned at the National Parks Services’ National Capital Region working on a study quantifying the hydrologic benefits of urban trees. Throughout my time at UVA, I was very involved in a student group, Sustainability Advocates, which was focused on boosting recycling and composting efforts at the university and educating the student body about sustainability-focused initiatives. My last semester at UVA, I worked with a small group of students creating a stormwater management proposal for a riverside community in Norfolk, VA. They are experiencing increased flooding issues similar to Nashville’s recent flooding. We focused on green solutions to stormwater issues like rain gardens, bioswales, and waterway buffers. I plan to attend graduate school for urban and environmental planning, with a focus on city planning with responsible environmental interaction in mind.
I’m originally from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, located in the western part of the state. Hiking, kayaking, and swimming were a huge part of my childhood, and continue to be important in my life. All of the water in the Shenandoah Valley flows east to the Chesapeake Bay, bringing with it runoff from agricultural fields and paved surfaces. The Chesapeake Bay has been severely impacted by harmful algal blooms (and oxygen dead zones that follow them HABs) as a result of this nutrient overloading. Once I started studying the Chesapeake Bay and its issues, I wanted to work educating people about their interactions with both local and regional waterways. Serving with RCWA is an opportunity to help educate people about the effects of their actions locally, while also continuing my own education about urban streams. I’m very excited to learn more about the unique ecology of Nashville’s local waterways, while simultaneously working to improve the community’s understanding of the issues facing urban waterways. RCWA works on everything from implementing riparian restoration to community outreach, and I’m excited to be serving with an organization that works in so many different spheres to protect and restore a local waterway. I’ll also be helping RCWA and partners with their campaign, R!VIVE! Nashville— a movement to revitalize Nashville’s streams and rivers.
I’m here in Nashville after being selected for the AmeriCorps position through Hands on Nashville. The AmeriCorps program is a community service organization focused on supporting volunteers that work to build capacity for non-profits. I joined AmeriCorps because it was an opportunity to dive right into the environmental issues facing modern urban spaces. As I begin my term of service, I look forward to learning all about RCWA and the Richland Creek Watershed community. Hands on Nashville is still accepting applications for several AmericCorps positions to be filled by October. If you or someone you know is interested, follow this link: https://www.hon.org/americorps
You can find more information about the Rivive! Nashville campaign at https://rivivenashville.org/
I hope you are as excited as I am for the upcoming year, and I look forward to meeting and working with you to help restore Richland Creek!