How AmeriCorps influenced our own Ricky Burcat

March 11, 2016 Written by  Comments Print
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As an Employer of National Service, greeNEWit celebrates AmeriCorps Week by sharing one our newest team members' stories, and how he was influenced and prepared to become an energy auditor. Ricky Burcat, was a AmeriCorps volunteer, and here is his story:


"It’s not rocket science” quipped a forester demonstrating how to wind up a fire hose, a trail technician grading the back-slope of a trail, a park ranger cleaning a chainsaw. The phrase was uttered 12 times in total during my two years as an AmeriCorps volunteer with the Maryland Conservation Corps, and each time I could rely on a crewmate to catch my eye or elbow me in the ribs. What our instructors meant to say was “don’t worry—this isn’t that hard.” What they didn’t know was that I could do rocket science. In fact, I had spent the last four years as an aerospace engineer—a real-life rocket scientist—for NASA, and I had come to AmeriCorps and the Maryland Park Service to do, explicitly, “not rocket science”.

So the question is, how did I get here?

Well, to start, I decided I wanted to be an astronaut when I was eight years old. I had more follow-through than most eight-year-old aspiring astronauts, but, three and a half years into a four-year college degree I realized I wasn’t happy with what I was doing. When the time was right—a year after my college graduation—I chose to leave the desk and the lab for the trees and the trails.

So, then, how did I get here? To greeNEWit, a small, but rapidly growing company, two weeks into training to be a home energy auditor? As all good things do, my AmeriCorps contract came to an end. In those two years, I built lifejacket racks and nature playgrounds. I inoculated Hemlocks in Western Maryland, planted native White Cedars on the Eastern Shore, and downed hazardous trees in northern Baltimore County. I taught park visitors how to build safe campfires and led volunteers in maintaining sustainable trails.

But, ok, it ended, and I had to get a “real” job to support my cat.

During a job hunt, it is easy to think of the job offer as the end of a tough journey, but I knew when I accepted greeNEWit’s offer that I was marking a beginning, not an end. While my NASA days provided me with confidence in my technical proficiencies, I have learned that being a home energy auditor requires other vital skills as well. I need to be personable, to convince a customer to trust me as I inspect the nooks and crannies of their home; I need to be resourceful, to come up with creative solutions for unique houses; and I need to be perceptive, to understand a customer’s concerns and tailor options to their individual needs. These other skills, the ones that are sometimes awkward to put in your resume*, these I honed in AmeriCorps.

During this AmeriCorps Week, I’m grateful. I’m grateful for the encouragement, expertise, and guidance of the people I met through the Maryland Conservation Corps, for the time spent exploring the most beautiful areas of my adopted home-state, and for the opportunity to recalibrate and refocus. I’m grateful for my decision to leave the job I had always thought I wanted and, looking ahead, for the opportunity to tackle this one.

*skills: C++, Photoshop, AutoCAD, and uhh, like meeting and talking to people, ya know?


greeNEWit is honored and proud to hire team members like Ricky. We are continuously amazed by people's generosity and charitable sacrifices. so to celebrate this AmeriCorps Week, we salute Ricky and everyone that has been a part of this great civic organization!

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