Thielmann helps restore wetlands in California

Works with team to plant 12,000 native plant species

-Submitted photo Austin Thielmann plants native species in the Hamilton Wetlands in California recently.

In just a short time serving in the National Civilian Community Corps, Austin Thielmann has already made a difference.

He and a team of about a dozen others from around the United States recently finished planting 12,000 native plant species in the Hamilton Wetlands in Novato, California.

“We would plant about 40 to 60 plants per day per person, and by the end of our six weeks we actually did meet our 12,000 plant goal,” he said. “That was rather exciting and a well-deserved way to finish off our first round.”

Thielmann, 23, is a 2013 Manson Northwest Webster High School graduate.

He joined the NCCC in 2017 after graduating last spring with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in history from Iowa State University in Ames.

-Submitted photo Austin Thielmann works with one of his team members in the Hamilton Wetlands in California recently.

Thielmann arrived in Sacramento, California, for training in October 2017. He was based out of McClellan Park for his first project, the Hamilton Wetlands.

Thielmann said the wetlands used to be an air base called the Hamilton Air Field.

“It was closed down later in the 20th century and the city of Novato came to the decision to restore it to a wetland as it was before the air base was constructed,” he said.

Thielmann’s job was to help plant species native to that area.

He would leave his camp at about 6 a.m. each day to travel there, which is about a 30-minute commute. Once there, he and his team members were given a digging tool.

“There were certain specifications for what depth plants needed to be at,” he said.

Thielmann said the plant species consisted of salt marsh, salt grass, pickleweed and cattail.

The restoration efforts began as a way to beautify the area and help endangered animals, he said.

“There are a number of different endangered birds and small endangered animals such as the harvest field mouse that have been dwindling in population for some years,” he said.

Thielmann worked about nine hours a day.

When he wasn’t busy in the field, he volunteered at San Francisco City Hall decorating the World Tree of Hope and offering his time to other charity events.

“We did a number of smaller projects on our own,” he said.

Thielmann said working in unfamiliar territory and meeting new people has been invaluable.

“It’s really a learning experience to be out here,” he said. “It’s wonderful to meet new individuals who have a different perspective on life and get to share those experiences with others. It’s been eye-opening to hear other people’s backgrounds and see people overcome tremendous difficulties and look to the future.”

Thielmann’s next round of service is taking him to Florida.

There he will help with recovery and relief efforts following the devastation left behind by Hurricane Irma in September 2017.

“A lot of that will consist of tarping roofs and going into houses and surveying the damage, so other teams can come in for the repair process,” he said. “We will also be doing a lot of those repairs as well. We will also be helping with debris removal.”

Thielmann said he joined the National Civilian Community Corps to help others.

“I wanted to help other individuals and be the act of change to inspire other individuals to make a better place to live,” he said. “I have always been really interested in learning about people and why they are the individuals they are.”

Thielmann’s service in the NCCC will end July 19. After that, he plans to find an opportunity to volunteer internationally.