Roman Miles

I’m Roman Miles and I’m originally from Ventura, CA. I’ve lived in Maui in the 70’s as a young boy, Oklahoma as a teenager and from there, I enlisted in the Army at 18. Boot Camp in Ft. Leonard Wood changed my life forever. It was very exciting for me. I learned my military occupation specialty (MOS) 25Q – Illustrator in Denver and I was recruited to the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) Ft. Myer, VA. Eventually I was deployed to the Persian Gulf Crisis in 1990/91 and attached to 4th Psychological Operations, Ft. Bragg, NC. While in Desert Shield / Storm, I was 1 of 5 illustrators that drew psychological propaganda. I turned 21 the day the war officially started. When I returned, I was reassigned to Signal Corps and worked at VIC (Visual Information Center) The Pentagon. My 5 year enlistment ended in 1993 but my excitement to explore the world I live in, never stopped. In June 2020, I decided to step away from my previous occupation in Luxury Retail Management and I started my 4,200 mile adventure moving west to Alaska from Washington DC. I always wanted to live in the Last Frontier, at least for a few years anyway. As I am getting settled with the great outdoors, I started seeking opportunities that I could invest my energy, enthusiasm and respect for the environment, by joining an organization that does just that. I found the Mt. Adams Institute! I am thrilled to discover the Fleet Assistant Internship position here in Anchorage, AK with the Chugach National Forest. I expect to learn invaluable skills that will allow me the technical know-how of managing a fleet of 120+ assets! I am starting another chapter in my life with a matching new adventure and eventually, a new career in forest management and preservation. In this day and age of climate issues, Mother Nature needs all the protection she can get. I hope to do my part as I listen to the call of the wild in my heart!

Sarah Russo

My family moved a lot growing up, but we always came back to Oak Harbor, Washington where I spent most of my life. I believe living in Oak Harbor on beautiful Whidbey Island has a lot to do with my love for the outdoors and passion for the environment. I played outside exploring in the woods and on the beaches and hiking has always been my favorite pastime. I joined the Navy as an Information System Technician right out of HS and was lucky enough to have my first duty station in Naples, Italy. As a lover of architecture and history I had a great time traveling all over Europe. After getting out of the Navy I completed my BS in Environmental Management from UMUC (UMGC). During this time, I had my two daughters whom I have been staying home with for 4 years. While I was job searching last year, I was turned down 27 times, each time for not having any relevant work experience in the field. Switching from IT to Environmental Management was a bigger undertaking than I had anticipated. I happened upon an opportunity with MAI from an ad on a job site and once I read more into the VetsWork Environment program I was hooked. Besides needing work experience I also needed to connect back with the PNW. I worked underground in equipment rooms for years as an IT and have been craving an opportunity to work outside and to be a part of a community that I feel like I fit in. I believe this internship will provide all this and more. I am excited to see the tools and principles I learned in school put to work in the real world and to expand my knowledge and skills. I am hoping to get a sense of direction for what I want to do with my career and to feel like I am a part of something bigger.

Mason Boomgarden

My Name is Mason Boomgarden. I have grown up and currently live in Mankato, MN. I grew up in Scouting and going on camping trips every other weekend. I have always loved the outdoors and have spent most of my adult life building up to a job with the DNR or Forest Service. The first time I went camping was with my family at 4 months old. My military service in the Army National Guard was very useful. I was only deployed once to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba as a corrections officer. I will graduate from college after this internship as it is the last requirement I need to fulfill for my degree. The biggest reason I applied for this internship was to satisfy my last college requirement. Needing an internship and that leading me to find Mt. Adams institute was one of the best things college has done for me. This will allow me to start my career working in the outdoors. I am looking forward to living in Alaska and being so close to that much wild space.

Julian Rodriguez

Hi, my name is Julian. I grew up in the Garden State. My military service started shortly after I graduated high school. Post my military service I received a bachelor’s degree in psychology. My love for the outdoors emerged in the Pacific Northwest. I enjoy a tough hike that leads to a scenic view. Through AmeriCorps and the Mt. Adams Institute I have the privilege of serving my country while helping people connect with the outdoors. This is exactly what I want to do in my post college years. The VetsWork tech position in Juneau is really exciting. I look forward to sleeping under the stars on Admiralty Island. Through my internship I hope to further my relationship and understanding of the outdoors.

Joe Simpson

I grew up in a suburb of Akron, OH right outside the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, where I gained a deep love and appreciation for the outdoors. I’ve loved hiking and kayaking since I was a kid, so I decided to study Geology at the University of Mount Union, assuming it would keep me in close contact with the natural world. I joined the U.S. Air Force as a firefighter to gain preference with the federal government when it came to employment with the USDA, DOI, etc. and it has been a great experience all around. I gained perspective on parts of the world few Americans have seen, and learned a lot about myself in the process. I applied for the Mt. Adams Institute AmeriCorps Internship because I saw the opportunity to not only work for a highly desired agency in the USFS, but also an opportunity to live and work in a beautiful part of Alaska. I strongly believe in the mission of the Forest Service, and being an avid traveler and hiker, I definitely needed to see Alaska as soon as possible. I hope to learn about the inner structure and functions of the Forest Service, and see if I am a compatible fit for long term employment with the agency. I am also excited to explore Alaska, hike some of the most scenic parts of the United States, go salmon fishing, and experience a new culture.

Amanda Williams

Hello world! My name is Amanda Williams, and I have the great pleasure of working with the Mt. Adams Institute, VetsWork family as a Public Outreach Specialist in Cordova, AK! I was born and raised in California, spending the first half of my childhood in LA, before moving with my family (I have two younger brothers, we are really close!) to Placerville, an amazing small town in the Sierra Foothills. I have a broad range of interests that include singing (I am also a songwriter), acting, writing, skiing, snowshoeing, surfing, backpacking, wakeboarding, camping and hiking. I have been all over the planet, and am thrilled for this next great adventure in Alaska. I am a Navy veteran and served during Operation Iraqi Freedom as a plane captain, launching FA-18 fighter jets off the flight deck of the USS John C. Stennis (think about the movie top gun) and on the fight line at NAS Lemoore, CA. I was honorably discharged as a third class petty officer. I decided to become a Mt. Adams Institute AmeriCorps intern for a plethora of reasons: I believe the opportunity is invaluable, networking with like-minded individuals and learning more about the U.S. Forest Service and potential career opportunities. I have always had an affinity for the outdoors and working with the public. What most excites me about the program is the chance to live in and experience a place I have never been, and am hoping to gain knowledge that will help set me up for my dream career.

Ryan Toth

My name is Ryan Toth, and I’m from Garden Valley, California. I grew up in a fairly rural environment, hunting, fishing, trapping, camping, and working construction. I joined the Navy in 2008 as an aircraft director/firefighter onboard the USS Enterprise Air dept. V-1 division. After getting out in 2013, I moved back home, where I attended two semesters at Folsom Lake College, exploring potential careers. I have a 2 1/2-year-old son who lives with me in my house in beautiful Carson, Washington.

I have always worked construction and engineering-type jobs and have made good money doing it with the railroad, but I was never happy at work.I look forward to the chance to support the Columbia Gorge National Fish Hatcheries’ mission through facility maintenance.

William Maness

My name is William, but everyone calls me Billy. I grew up in St.Louis, MO, and joined the United States Navy as a Corpsman in 2010 and separated in 2018. I was stationed at Camp Pendleton for six years and spent another two in Sigonella, Italy. I deployed twice, the first one to Afghanistan and the second on the 31MEU. I have a B.S. in Environmental Science with a concentration in Natural Resource Conservation. I completed most of my degree while still active and finished the rest with Southern New Hampshire University. I enjoy spending my time hiking, camping, snowboarding, ice climbing, and trail running. On occasion, I will go rock climbing or bouldering. I also like to volunteer at my local park.

I became a VetsWork Intern because it is an unbelievable opportunity to build upon my knowledge of the natural resources and work with the U.S. Forest Service and other agencies. I am most excited about working and learning from individuals who share the same love of the environment as me. I hope to learn as much as I can as an intern, which will help me discover available career paths.

Yuri Gerber

My name is Yuri Gerber, and I grew up in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. I was in the boy scouts from an early age and earned the rank of eagle scout my senior year in high school. I graduated from Arkadelphia HS and attended Ouachita Baptist University for two years before joining the Army in 2017. I was a proud member of the 101st airborne division and graduated from air assault school in 2018. I enjoy all outdoor activities, especially camping, hiking, and fishing.

I decided to become a VetsWork AmeriCorps intern to gain training and experience in the National Forest Service operations. I am excited to learn more about the day-to-day operations of the Forest Service. I am hopeful that this will turn into a career path and allow me to fulfill my desire to work in the outdoors while at the same time helping to keep our national resources in great shape to be shared for generations to come.

Victor Pinero

My name is Victor Manuel Pinero Pabon, currently 31 years old. I was born in Fayetteville, NC,  and  I moved back to Puerto Rico when I was four years old. I went to the same school from kinder garden to 12th grade. Since I was a child, I participated in sports, including baseball, tennis, soccer, running, and my favorite sport with 13 years of experience –  fencing. I like to compete and enjoy challenges in areas that require me to give my all and better myself. This includes the Boys Scouts of America, where I reached the highest rank, Eagle Scout. After graduating, I completed my bachelor’s degree in Physical Education, specializing in K-12. During this time, I enlisted in the Marines Corps reserve as a logistic specialist and served an eight-year contract with an honorable discharge.

I decided to become a VetsWork intern with Mt. Adams Institute AmeriCorps because I enjoy life in the outdoors. I have to give thanks to my loving parents, who taught and supported me to get involved with nature activities, especially camping. I’m very excited about my intern position because I will be serving El Yunque National Forest’s recreational areas. I will be applying my skills learned in college to grow as a professional.

I am looking forward to becoming an interpreter for our beloved rain forest and take care of it. To welcome visitors and show them all the things one can learn and enjoy when connecting with nature. I hope to keep learning and to know what it takes to be in the US Forest Service and, if possible, work in the US Forest Service in the future or any similar organization related to caring and protecting nature.

Tyler Daugherty

Hello, my name is Tyler Daugherty, and I was born and raised in Crossville, Tennessee. I joined the United States Air Force in 2016 after graduating high school and was stationed at Hurlburt Field Air Force Base in Mary Esther, Florida, for four years. During my service, I worked as an entomologist, which taught me to appreciate the beauty of nature, insects, and animals. I recently got out of the Air Force. Still, my time as an entomologist, combined with my experiences growing up in the Tennessee mountains, has positively impacted my career path. I enjoy camping, kayaking, and walking my dog Neeko. I also have a son named Cruz, who means the world to me. I love being able to teach him about the outdoors and include him in my adventures.

I chose to apply for Mt. Adams Institute AmeriCorps Internship due to how they appreciate, support, and take care of veterans. I am looking forward to expanding my knowledge and sharpening my skills. I am especially excited to learn about controlled burns and fire prevention. I am very thankful for this opportunity, and I am hoping to make the most of it.

Paul Word

I was born and raised in the great state of Texas! I spent most of my early years in the country, roaming East Texas’s woods before tackling big city living in Dallas. Soon after graduating high school, I enlisted in the United States Army. I did 14 years in the army, working my way up the ranks to Staff Sergeant. During my military career, I am grateful for the many different skills and opportunities I could experience, from logistics management to psyops and civil affairs!

Over the years, I have gained a great passion and appreciation for the outdoors. I love hiking, camping, and kayaking. My current background is in education, and I want to go back to school to combine environmental science or forest management. This opportunity would leave me equipped to care for the forest and educate others on nature’s joys. The VetsWork program will give solid hands-on experience and open doors to networking in a less experienced field. I hope to get a full-time position in the Forest Service after the program continues growing in the conservation field.

Patrick Ford

I was born and raised around Hardeeville, SC, where I lived with my mom and two older brothers.  It is a relatively small town where I spent most of my time in school or hanging out with a group of very close friends (I still have today). When I’m outdoors, I enjoy taking photos of wildlife and the environment around me a great deal. When I was growing up, I spent a lot of my time exploring the woods with my dogs. I always wanted to see what new animal I would stumble across that day. I’d search under logs, in creeks, or the deepest parts of the woods and always feel a sense of ease/excitement.


The majority of my time in the Air Force was spent as a military working dog handler. The job was very rewarding and gave me a sense of fulfillment. It is a blessing that I can say I enjoyed the people I worked with just as my K9 counterparts. I enjoyed that the job had a sense of importance while also never growing completely stale. One moment you’re being sent to a U.S. Embassy to make sure it’s clear of potential threats, and the next conducting search & rescue practice drills through the woods.  Being a Military Policeman/K9 handler gave me many credits towards criminal justice after my nine years of service. After high school, most of my education has gone to that, and a small portion went towards a degree in nursing (which I am not currently pursuing).


I decided to be a VetsWork AmeriCorps Intern because I wanted to confirm that I should pursue a forestry career. I’m excited about this internship for a plethora of reasons. I am excited for the opportunity not to be stuck in an office every day (even if there are exceptions to the rule). I’m anxious to meet new people and be taught things I never would’ve otherwise. I’m excited about the opportunity to get hands-on training while dipping my toes into forestry. I like the idea of having knowledgeable mentors to teach me the ins and out’s of their job. I’m excited about the position because it is something new, and I feel like people grow the most when they are out of their comfort zone. This internship will help me become a complete person and hopefully more valuable if I decide to take up forestry.

Jason Holifield

Growing up in Northern California, some of my fondest childhood memories were trips with my grandparents to the redwood forests. I was awestruck to see the world’s tallest trees. This early experience left a lasting impression. After five years in the military as an Intelligence Analyst, I developed a strong desire to lead a simpler life. I took every opportunity to travel. My first adventure was to Australia, where they live very near to nature. While in Australia, I scuba-dived in the Great Barrier Reef and hiked the Great Ocean Road. I then traveled to China to be a volunteer teacher. One of my favorite things about China is the significant role scholars gardens play in Chinese culture. I was fortunate enough to visit several of China’s famous scholars gardens and tea garden cities. After leaving China, I went to Sweden. Sweden, where over 50% of the land is forested. I enjoyed wandering in the woods, picking wild blueberries and chanterelle mushrooms.


I eventually settled back in the U.S. and purchased my little piece of property in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is an old schoolhouse on 5 acres full of old-growth forest trees, small brooks, and a couple of artesian springs. And now I wander my woods and observe nature. I’ve always been enthusiastic about learning and educating others, and I am excited about my second VetsWork internship.  This year as a Land Survey Assistant. I hope to draw inspiration and ideas from this internship that I plan to use as a stepping stone to a fulfilling career in forestry!