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Summer AmeriCorps Feature: GCMoA Service Member Aubrie Torhorst

Aubrie Torhorst is a Grinnell College student studying biology and studio art. This year she is serving as a summer AmeriCorps member with the Grinnell College Museum of Art and Drake Community Library as a part of the Grinnell Education Partnership. Aubrie took some time to share a bit about why she’s spending her summer in service, and what she enjoys most about it.

Why and how did you become interested in serving with AmeriCorps or GEP?

This is my first year with AmeriCorps, and I got involved by working with Tilly [Woodward], my site supervisor at the Grinnell College Museum of Art. Tilly was looking for volunteers to host 30-minute virtual drop-in sessions for kids to come learn about art, make art, read stories, or even just talk to someone new about things. This spring, an AmeriCorps member started hosting those sessions with local groups rather than just a drop-in event, and I volunteered alongside her to run those sessions. I really enjoyed the experience and thought this AmeriCorps position could be another step up from what I was already doing. I thought I could build on the relationships and skills that I had formed and have a great summer spending time in Grinnell while doing so!

Why did you decide to serve in a position that focuses on children and education?

While I do not have intentions of becoming a teacher, I think learning how to be an educator and mentor and getting a message across in a positive, impactful manner is an incredibly valuable skill for anyone. Growing up, it was those unexpected mentors and the unique experiences they brought into my life that shaped who I am today and fueled the passions I carry with me in life. To serve in that role for kids in Grinnell the way that others served for me as a child is one driving force for why I wanted to serve in this role. Moreover, I recognize that the last year was hard for everyone, no matter what age. Not only do [kids] need to continue learning, but they also need practice things like social skills, emotional awareness, showing love and compassion to yourself and others. Now more than ever I think those skills need attention as we begin to be together again.

What is the most fun part of your service this summer?

As an artist myself, one of the most enjoyable parts of my service is being part of the creative process for kids, whether that be during an art activity, discussion, or something else. I love talking through the process of building and making which leads to “aha” moments and natural times to have a learning moment. Another thing I really enjoy seeing is the excitement and wonder that stirs in kids when there’s a book that really captures their attention - a moment where a kid scoots forward to see the pictures better and really focus on the reading or talks about the books they are reading on their own and what they are interested in. Getting to know people and the community is an all-around joy of my service, and I am having so much fun getting to be part of these moments with kids in the area.

What are your plans for next year?

I am entering my third year at Grinnell College studying biology and studio art. I hope to continue volunteering with the Grinnell College Museum of Art and encourage others to check out the exhibits and events at the museum and the resources at Drake Library. I do not have any definite plans for next summer, but this AmeriCorps position was an unexpected gem that entered my life not too long ago, so who knows what might be in store!


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