I hail from a small town in central Tennessee where I spent my childhood enjoying the outdoors and our natural environment. After graduating from high school, I enlisted in the U.S. Army as an Air Traffic Controller in order to expand my worldview. The opportunity granted me many wonderful experiences beginning with my first assignment at Ft. Bragg, N.C. and included numerous deployments from the California desert to the Gulf Coast and even briefly to upstate New York. I then traveled to the Republic of South Korea for a year where I watched the September 11th attacks from a small field camp sitting on the North Korean border. During this time, I met my wonderful husband, Leo, who I have now been married to for fourteen years.
Shortly after returning to Ft. Bragg in 2002, my unit received its first combat deployment where I served in Operation Enduring Freedom in Kandahar, Afghanistan in support of the 82nd Airborne Division. It was there that I received more of an education than ever before. I had never seen such poverty and hopelessness in a society and it truly allowed me to appreciate all I was so fortunate to have.
After completing my five-year active duty enlistment, I used my army skills and experience as a military air traffic controller to work as a civilian in Northern Kuwait at Camp Udari, where all units entered Iraq subsequent to the invasion. During these two years, from 2004 until early 2006 I watched the war from only 80 kilometers away and assisted each aviation unit in their final preparations and training before entering combat in Iraq. We also received each unit upon completion of their combat rotation and facilitated their return to the United States. When I, myself, returned to the United States, my husband and I purchased an RV park at the Northern edge of the Missouri Ozark Mountains at the confluence of the Gasconade River and the Little Piney Creek. Here we operated a seasonal campground for three years, including many of the features found in many other private and public parks such as walking and riding trails, a swimming pool, river access with a boat ramp and even a small camp store. This ended with a record flood in the spring of 2008, in which briefly I thought there would be no future for me working outdoors and with our natural environment.
I returned to school in 2010 to pursue a Bachelors of Science in Biology with a minor in Chemistry and I now expect to graduate in the spring of 2015. Having learned about the VetsWork AmeriCorps Program and Mount Adam’s Institute, I applied for and have begun the most exciting internship with the U.S. National Forrest Service here in Missouri. Thus far, the prospect has been enlightening and the opportunities appear endless. My exposure to wonderful people and mentors has already begun helping me apply my previous experiences and education to the goals of the U.S. Forest Service and I expect is only the first step in fulfilling my ambitions to influence the future of our environment for the sake of our children, including my own son and daughter who are turning two and six this year. I envision this chance will allow me to find a place where I can work towards environmental sustainability and appropriate stewardship, something for which I am extremely passionate. I am proud to have the opportunity to continue serving my country in a new capacity thanks to the Mt. Adams Institute and the VetsWork AmeriCorps program.