Meet David Escarcega, 2020 VetsWork AmeriCorps Intern!

I grew up in Brownsville, Texas and spent my summers on the family farm in Zacatecas, Mexico. I sincerely love hiking in the outdoors and have lost count of how many so called mountains I’ve climbed. They’ve been mostly smaller type hills like Mt. Diablo in California and Mt. Bonnell in Texas. I’ve served both in the Marines and the Army and spent the majority of it in Iraq and Afghanistan respectively. I also have a bachelor’s degree in history which I received between my time in the Marines and Army. I recently married my beautiful wife who I’ve known since my time in college.

I have two goals: be a better husband, and pursue a career in the Forest Service that allows me to fulfill having a profession that has a deep meaning for myself. I chose to become a Mt. Adams Institute intern because it is providing me with the amazing opportunity to work in the outdoors in such a way that I feel I am going to be part of it. What excites me most is that I am going to have a profession where I get to engage with people in a meaningful way in the most beautiful scenery on earth. What I hope to get from this experience is a good understanding of what it takes to be a valuable member of the Forest Service. I hope to see and touch as much of the National Forest I work in. I hope I get to breathe fresh air every day and feel both the sun’s warmth in the summer and even the cold in the winter. It feels good to actually feel the seasons changing and I very much look forward to being a part of it.

Meet Nick Maze, 2020 VetsWork AmeriCorps Intern!

I grew up exploring in the William B. Bankhead National Forest. The forest was quite literally my backyard, and with the help of a vivid imagination, I decided my career choices at a young age. Whether it be acquiring branches as crude weaponry and playing “army”, searching for arrowheads, or tracking down rare salamander species, I was never bored. My love for the outdoors never faded. Joining the Marine Corps in 2015, I had plenty of outdoors and field time in a vast array of climates. From the Mojave Desert to the pine forests of North Carolina stateside, and from the deserts of the Middle East to the lush deciduous forests of Southeast Asia, I still haven’t had my fill.

I lucked upon a job posting for this internship position online and knew instantly it was perfect for me. I look to further my knowledge in anything and everything outdoors, and do my part to preserve that for generations to come, all while having a great potential career supporting my two daughters and soon to be born son.

Meet Michael Zsembik, 2020 VetsWork AmeriCorps Intern!

I grew up deep in the heart of Texas, in the capital Austin. I enjoy mountain biking, bird watching, and as silly as it sounds getting butterflies to land on my fingers. During my Naval service, my ship responded to the 2010 earthquake disaster in Port au Prince, Haiti and sailed through the straights of Magellan at the tip of South America within three months. My family is probably my biggest support system and I truly cherish them for that and try to remind them how much they mean to me more often than not.

I chose to be a Mt. Adams Institute AmeriCorps intern because I can gain valuable real world experience in the field I studied in college and truly make impactful change in the natural world that all life depends on. I also chose Mt. Adams Institute because it helps veterans find new professional pathways where they can apply the sense of service and integrity learned to environmental stewardship. I would say I am most excited about being in the forest and connecting to the land in a more meaningful way far from distractions. I am thrilled to cultivate a professional skill set with a hands on approach.

Meet Jason Holifield, 2020 VetsWork AmeriCorps Intern!

Growing up in northern California some of my fondest childhood memories were trips with my grandparents to the Redwood Forests. I was simply awe struck 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 scholar’s gardens play in Chinese culture. I was fortunate enough to visit several of China’s famous scholar’s gardens and tea garden cities. After leaving China, I went to Sweden. Sweden is made up of over 50% forest land. I enjoyed wandering in the woods, picking wild blueberries and chanterelle mushrooms. I eventually settled back in the U.S., and purchased my own little piece of property in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is an old schoolhouse on five acres full of old growth forest trees, small brooks and a couple of artesian springs. And now I wander my own woods and observe nature.

I’ve always been enthusiastic about learning, as well as, educating others and I am excited to join the Mt. Adams Institute VetsWork program as a volunteer coordinator. I am thrilled to be able to attend the Wilderness Skills Institute, learn about wilderness ethics, and share that knowledge with the public. 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!

Meet Jason Chapman, 2020 VetsWork AmeriCorps Intern!

I grew up in northern Georgia. Shortly after high school, I joined the U.S. Army and became an Airborne Ranger. In 2015 I retired from the U.S. Army with over 21 years of active service as a Special Forces Non-Commissioned officer. Since retirement I have been searching for an opportunity that would enable me to do meaningful work and protect our natural resources while working outdoors.

Being selected by the Mt Adams Institute’s VetsWork program has really given me the opportunity to achieve my goals as a steward of our natural resources. This opportunity gives me a new mission and I am very honored to be selected.