Inside the Launch of DCP’s GatorCorps, an AmeriCorps Program at UF Supporting a Resilient Florida

Thursday, February 22, 2024

A group of UF faculty have launched GatorCorps, an AmeriCorps national service program dedicated to enhancing resilience in Florida through training, education, and impactful service. Operating within the framework of the University of Florida College of Design, Construction and Planning Florida Resilient Cities Program, GatorCorps members are set to make their mark in Gainesville, Jacksonville, and Cedar Key during 2024.

On November 17, 2023, orientation kicked off at the program’s headquarters, the Florida Institute for Built Environmental Resilience (FIBER). The inaugural GatorCorps cohort, many of whom are DCP students, dived into their journey with a team-building exercise. Drawing inspiration from a Picasso sketch, participants embarked on a unique challenge: capturing their partner’s features without the aid of sight and without lifting their hands. The assignment undoubtedly led to some striking imagery and gave momentum for collaborative work ahead.

Executive Director Jason von Meding and Program Director Carla Brisotto curated a day of hands-on activities that allowed these first GatorCorps members to envision what their year of service will look like. The first cohort are playing a crucial role in shaping the mission, vision, and goals of GatorCorps for its inaugural year of operation; the day’s activities allowed them to move things forward as a group. Supervisors from host sites in Jacksonville (Abdul-Hai Thomas, Center for Children’s Rights) and Cedar Key (Savanna Barry, Florida Sea Grant) were introduced, lending important context to the service opportunities in each location. With their involvement, GatorCorps is poised to broaden its reach and meaningful community impact beyond Gainesville.

As the program gains momentum, anticipation is building for the delivery of education and training in each service location. GatorCorps is currently developing a resilience education program for 5th graders, aiming to teach children about the significance of sustainability and resilience in both their community and daily life. This program will undoubtedly benefit both students and broader communities, aligning with GatorCorps’ commitment for direct community engagement — a method through which gradual but enduring change can be initiated.

Additionally, GatorCorps recently launched its Instagram and X (formerly known as Twitter) accounts. The initial posts on the organization’s social media platforms introduce GatorCorps and announce future plans. Moreover, images outlining the member orientation provide a sneak peek into the content that followers can expect from these accounts. Be sure to follow @ufgatorcorps on Instagram and @UFGatorCorps on X!

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