Participant Story: Phil Yoder

Phil YoderWhile many Pittsburghers settle into their office routine each morning, Philip Yoder is getting ready to head outside to check on the trails. His service placement with Pittsburgh Urban Leadership Service Experience (PULSE) is with Friends of the Riverfront, where he makes sure the trails you walk on are looking good and well-kept.

Friends of the Riverfront is an organization that works to increase awareness and engagement with the rivers and riverfronts in the Pittsburgh region.

After graduating from Eastern Mennonite University with a degree in biology, and an endorsement in secondary education, Phil decided to serve with PULSE because he wanted to work in the non-profit workplace, live in a city, and participate in all that is good about a year of service and intentional community.

Now that he’s served in Pittsburgh for several months, he explains what service with PULSE is like.

Sara Alvarez: Describe a typical day at Friends of the Riverfront.

Phil Yoder: I spend a lot of time out in the field. My position requires me to perceive what ecological issues are occurring on the trail and then figure out how to tend the ecosystems on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. So I do a lot of biking, driving and walking on the trails to check for sign damage, invasive species, and water-landing access.

SA: What do you enjoy most about your placement?

PY: I love that I am not in front of a computer and that I am out in the field. This fall was really pretty! I really enjoy the volunteer tree plantings that we help organize along the trails. It’s enjoyable to meet the volunteers. Only good feelings come from planting trees.

SA: What is the most interesting/fun adventure you’ve had in Pittsburgh this year?

PY: I think becoming an urban biker has been quite the adventure. Before this PULSE year, I hadn’t biked more than 25 miles total in my life, so it has been also a crazy transition and accomplishment for me.

SA: Tell me about something you’ve learned about yourself through PULSE?

PY: In PULSE, you have much more free time than what you have in college. Learning what I do with that time has been educational. I have intentionally spent many evenings this fall being social and going to events in Pittsburgh. But I have also learned how much I like to write, read, and chat with the housemates at home.

SA: What’s your favorite “family meal” recipe for the house?

PY: My house has had fun experimenting with stuffed peppers. All of us have made our own recipes. So far so good.

SA: What surprised you most so far about participating with PULSE and/or living in Pittsburgh?

PY: I think you hear people reflect back on how college friendships are the peak of social life, and while I still loved those friendships and the glory days, I have been surprised by how great the people I am around and living with this year are, and how important their friendships have been to me in Pittsburgh. PULSE friendships are incredible.

Story by PULSE Alumna Sara Alvarez.

Read more stories about the Participant experience with PULSE. If you would like to learn more about the PULSE program, please visit our Serve with Us page.