Pedro Soto Alumni Highlight

July 2016

Rec Hunters Pedro SotoTell me a little about yourself.
My full name is Pedro Luis Soto Jr. I was named after my father. I’m 22 years old, I was born and raised in Philadelphia. I grew up in North Philly, now I live in the Northeast. I’m an easy-going, fun loving person. I’m friendly and patient.

When were you in PowerCorpsPHL?
In Cohort 4 I was a member on Carlos Alvarez’s crew the Nature Chasers. In Cohort 5 I came back as Carlos’ Assistant Crew Leader for the Rec Hunters.

What are you up to now?
I currently work at Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership (TTF) as a Trail Ambassador. I work with Jenicia Smith, another PowerCorpsPHL alumni. We work specifically in Tacony Creek Park.
I found this position through PowerCorpsPHL. I kept in contact with Ms. Margy and the Career Services Team to learn about opportunities while I was an Assistant Crew Leader (ACL). This is the first cohort of fellowships with PowerCorpsPHL. They’re like internships with partner organizations across the city. I’m still an AmeriCorps member, but I get to enjoy the benefits of serving outside of PowerCorpsPHL. This fellowship with TTF I was the only one I was interested in, it was the only one I was gonna take. I live in the Northeast and while I was with PowerCorpsPHL, I worked with TTF on projects. I think I got this position because I networked and established a good relationship with Robin from TTF.
Robin Irizarry is my current supervisor. As Trail Ambassador, my daily tasks are to walk the trail to engage with the community members about Tacony Park and look for illegal short dumping sites, graffiti, or ATV activity. I perform some trail maintenance. I also spend some time in the office conducting daily and weekly reports that are sent to Philadelphia Parks and Recreation and Philadelphia Water. These reports inform them of patterns and trends of dumping, ATV use times, and graffiti times. Jenicia and I help run TTF events like the Nature Walk, 5 K’s, and other events to get the community out and enjoy the park. We take surveys asking what community members use in the park, what they want to see in the park, how they would like to use it. We do this to gauge the community’s interest and involvement in the park. I think my time with PowerCorpsPHL prepared me for this position. I bring my knowledge of plant identification, proper usage of tools, Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI), water conservation, and general ecosystem and watershed knowledge from PowerCorpsPHL. In addition to these technical skills, I learned about community outreach with PowerCorpsPHL and how to manage a project with a team.
Since starting our 6 month long fellowship with TTF, we’ve had a number of trainings. We had a bicycle safety and maintenance training, social media training, training on how to properly conduct a survey, and we’ll have a first aid training soon. I really like the people I work with; it’s a diverse group from all walks of life. It’s a dynamic group, we work very well together.
If you want to keep up with Jenicia and I, you can follow us on Twitter at @TTF_TAs.

What about in your free time?
I spend a lot of time with Jenicia, my partner in crime. Even outside of work we chill. I like to spend time with my friends, roommates, and family. I also play competitive video games on a semi-professional level. I go to events about every other week to either play or be the commentator. I’ve been paid to be the commentator. Kids know my name even, one kid asked me to sign his controler–I didn’t know what to do. I never thought I would get to the point where people wanted my autograph.

What motivates you?
My father and his story motivate me. He came to this area not knowing any English, he worked two jobs to slowly bring his entire family one by one here, and he established the family here. From there, he did everything he could for me growing up. He worked extra shifts to make sure me and my family were comfortable. It’s something I strive to be and do: establish myself and my family, provide for my family.

How did your time with PowerCorpsPHL impact you?
PowerCorpsPHL was the vehicle for me to lay the groundwork and make connections so that I am able to do what I do now. PowerCorpsPHL taught me how to network effectively and they helped me met so many people from different organizations. Because of PowerCorpsPHL, I realized I have more leadership capabilities than I thought. I didn’t used to think of myself as a direct leader, but as ACL I found I have the ability to motivate and to lead. I also didn’t know I had the ability to do as much physical labor as I did; PowerCorpsPHL tested my physical endurance.

Now that you’re an alumni, what sort of involvement would you like to have with PowerCorpsPHL?
I try to be as involved as possible, to help out and give back as much as possible. I have, and will, sit on or run a panel, make personal connections with current members; I still have ACL talks with current members. PowerCorpsPHL takes care of me: they provide me with a gas card, I like the Alumni Meet-Ups, there is constant support and communication, and they keep me involved even though I’m not here anymore.

What do you miss about PowerCorpsPHL? What don’t you miss?
I miss the work, the people I worked with (my Crew Leader, my crews from both cohorts), and the overall experience.
I don’t miss the hit or miss trainings: some were great and really stuck with me, and others didn’t do anything for me.

What do you hope to do in the future?
My dream is to make a living off playing video games; that bliss of not having to work on anything but games–oo!
In general, I want to continue to improve however I can. I want to have a career and a family. I eventually want to go back to school. After I finish this fellowship, I hope to transition into a job and a career. I want to be able to support myself and my future goals.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Shoutout to Mr. Carlos, who taught me a lot of technical skills and was a great supervisor overall!
Shoutout to Nicole B. she’s always there for me when I need someone to talk to, always kept my head up and a positive attitude.
Shoutout to Mr. Goldman, Toriano, that’s my guy; someone who kept me sharp, and always gave me a different perspective I didn’t see originally.


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