Submitted by dsong on Wed, 04/20/2022 - 14:23
Jaiden Liggett and Julia Hillengas

Jaiden Liggett, an AmeriCorps member serving with PowerCorpsPHL, was finishing high school when he first heard about PowerCorpsPHL and its national service program. Julia Hillengas, co-founder and executive director of PowerCorpsPHL, spoke with Jaiden about why he chose to come to PowerCorpsPHL and what he found most valuable about his experience. He kept coming back to this idea of the power, the beauty, and the peace that comes from “completing the cycle”. In Jaiden’s words: 

"I was applying to jobs but not getting any. I didn’t have any experience and my time management was not very good. I knew I would be graduating high school soon, but I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do next. My older sister had been through PowerCorpsPHL and thought it would be good for me. She told me all about it. She helped me apply and get to my interview on time. 

I used to watch television, be on my phone a lot, and play video games. Now, I barely play video games at all. Being outside, being in nature, it just feels good; everything around you is beautiful. It’s just so enjoyable that it elevates you as a person. 

At PowerCorpsPHL, I improved my time management, and I was drawn to being able to learn hands-on. I love learning about ecosystems and trees. How ecosystems live and thrive and knowing why is just amazing. And then we get to be a part of it. For example, we plant a lot of trees in PowerCorpsPHL. Those trees take up carbon dioxide, give us oxygen to breathe, food to eat, and they complete this cycle that we need. We then get the beauty of the plants, rivers, fresh air, and that makes us feel good. If we want that feeling, then we must do our part in the cycle to keep the Earth, trees, and us healthy. When we do that, we make beauty. We make peace. Those are the things we need more of."

Jaiden and team teaching about chainsaw use to to a new crew
Jaiden and team teaching about chainsaw use to to a new crew

Jaiden joins more than 1.2 million AmeriCorps alumni who found their passion, and developed life skills, while serving in communities around the country.  

PowerCorpsPHL is a modern-day climate corps designed to engage young people most impacted by environmental, social, and community challenges in projects that address them and connect to long-term economic opportunity in clean energy, green infrastructure, and community-based careers. 

PowerCorpsPHL is powered by EducationWorks and is a proud AmeriCorps program. 

Jaiden Liggett is completing his second term with PowerCorpsPHL as an Urban Forestry Fellow learning arboriculture and tree care. 

Julia Hillengas is the co-founder and executive director of PowerCorpsPHL. Prior, Julia served as the deputy service officer for Mayor Nutter’s Office of Civic Engagement & Volunteer Service. She also previously served as an AmeriCorps member with the VISTA program at SERVE Philadelphia and then as a staff member within the Mayor’s Office of Education, where she coordinated and grew an initiative to engage parents and families as partners in their children’s education.