Heartland Conservation Alliance welcomes our VISTA, Lauren Garrott! Lauren will be serving with us for the next year as our Partnership Coordinator. A worldwide adventurer, Lauren grew up living in several places, led by her mother’s service in the United States Military. Lauren cherishes this experience — the way it broadened her view of the world, and the deep bond it created for her immediate family. She recently studied abroad in Australia, where she spent time with extended family she’d never met before. A committed collegiate athlete, Lauren excelled on the track field. Here is where we see her gritty determination. Her commitment to this aspect of her own life inspired her study at Kansas State University’s College of Architecture, Planning, and Design, where she wrote her thesis, “A WALK IN THE PARK: A study of African American women and opportunity for physical activity”. Lauren graduated in May and is ready to take the world by storm. Lauren is grateful for the opportunity to serve the Heartland Conservation Alliance. She is looking forward to making strong and lasting partnerships by working with communities effected by poverty. VISTA, commemorating 50 years in 2015, was founded as Volunteers in Service to America in 1965 as a national service program to fight poverty in America. In 1993, VISTA was incorporated into the AmeriCorps network of programs. The DOI/VISTA program is a collaboration between the Department of the Interior and AmeriCorps VISTA that is changing the way that federal bureaus support national service. AmeriCorps VISTA is open to U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents age 18 and older. Lauren will serve full time for one year with Heartland Conservation Alliance. During their service, VISTAs receive a living allowance, as well as health care, child care, training, relocation expenses, and liability insurance. After a successful year of service, VISTAs receive either a $1,500 stipend or a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award equal to the maximum amount of the federal Pell Grant. The award can be used to pay for educational expenses at qualified institutions of higher education, or to pay back qualified student loans.