Placement: Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge
Position: Habitat Restoration Volunteer Coordinator
“I am really excited about taking the experience I get from this position and carrying it over into a full-time job!”
My name is Michael Lotspeich, and I am from a small town in Oregon. I have always had a passion for the outdoors. I think it began as a child. I loved fishing, canoeing, and swimming in the creek behind my house. When I was a sophomore in high school my class was responsible for raising salmon eggs for a local Fish and Wildlife office, and even though our filter plugged, and the fish all died, I knew I wanted to work with fish. My family couldn’t afford to send me to college, so I followed my father’s advice, and joined the military. I decided that if I was only doing one term, I would challenge myself, and join the most difficult branch. So, I joined the Marine Corps. In order to receive the maximum college bonus I had to choose between only a handful of jobs. I ended up picking radio maintenance. After a year of training and schooling, I got to my first duty station in Yuma, Arizona. I spent 3 years there (including 6 months in Kuwait). After my 3 years in Arizona, I went to Okinawa, Japan for a year (including 1 month in South Korea). In Japan I was the radio maintenance chief for my battalion.
Upon completing my 5 year contract with the Marine Corps, I attended a community college near my family. I was there for 3 quarters taking basic, entry level college courses. The next couple years I attended Mt. Hood Community College. From there, I received an Associate’s degree in Fisheries Techniques. I decided I wanted to further my education, so I went to Oregon State University, and got my Bachelor’s degree in Fisheries and Wildlife. I have since completed 2 years of seasonal work in the Fish Biology field, working in Washington, Oregon, and California.
After finishing my 2 years of seasonal work, I decided I was tired of moving around, and wanted to try my hand at a permanent position. I proceeded to apply for positions throughout Washington, Idaho, California, and Oregon, while at the same time volunteering at a Fish and Wildlife Office near my house. I promised myself I would give it 6 months, and if I didn’t have a permanent job, I would reevaluate my goals, and whether or not I needed to go back to school. After 4 months of rejections, I started questioning if I would ever get a permanent position. After talking to several people I worked with, I found that they had been doing seasonal work for 6 – 10 years, and still hadn’t got a permanent job. It really made me question whether I should switch professions. I spent about a month thinking of what else I would want to do, but realized there was nothing else. Then I came upon the VetsWork job posting on Craigslist.
I was instantly drawn to the VetsWork job posting. Although, the position was not permanent, I did feel that the duties of this job would help strengthen my resume for future jobs. Additionally, I was informed that there may be a full-time job waiting for me after my service term. I jumped at the opportunity. The job I applied for seemed to have a wide range of new tasks that I had never performed in a natural resource field, and I was excited for the opportunity. After all, I love to learn.
I think the most exciting thing about this job, is that I get to learn more about how natural resources coincide. Additionally, I will be given the chance to restart a position that has not been filled in awhile. I like the idea of rebuilding a system from the ground up. I am also really excited about taking the experience I get from this position, and carrying it over into a permanent job. I know how hard it can be to get a permanent job, and the more experience I get, the better the chances I have of finding one.