Public Lands Stewards: Staying in the Methow Valley

by | Land Stewards

I recently had a lengthy conversation with my Dad about the future; my plans for it, my goals and expectations. I told him I was planning on staying in the Methow Valley for the winter and was applying for 2019 seasonal positions with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) in the valley working with the wilderness or trails crew.

At the beginning of the season I didn’t have much of an idea of what to expect from this AmeriCorps internship with the USFS or what my plans were at the end of the 6-month term, I just hoped for the best. I largely took this position in the Methow Valley because I knew it was where I had been happiest in the past when I worked here in 2015. My other motivation was that I was thinking about a career working with the USFS and I knew this position would be a great “in”. In the past six months I haven’t just learned the in’s and out’s, duties and expectations of a wilderness ranger. I’ve learned just as much about the culture within the Forest Service, the people I work with in my department and other departments, and their education and backgrounds that have led them to this point. I’ve learned about the landscape and the many uses that occur on Forest Service lands along with the smattering of state parks, U.S. Fish and Wildlife lands, and the North Cascades National Park. All of the experiences and challenges that I have overcome this season have helped me realize that working with the Forest Service is something I see myself doing for quite a while, or at least a few years and now I am beginning to understand a clear path to my goals.

I may realize at some point that this is what I truly want to make a career out of and go back to school to get my masters in order to become a manager of a department for the Forest Service. The seasonal nature of positions that I qualify for certainly introduces some uncertainty to this career field but that is something I’m willing to accept; after all, I have the best, most fulfilling job in the world.

Through networking I was able to find a job in the valley for the next six months doing construction. Though I’ve never done construction I’m excited to learn a new skill but more than that I’m happy to stay in the Methow Valley and get to play in the snow covered mountains and forests until spring arrives. In May I’ll once again get to join my Forest Service friends and coworkers for another successful and fun season of work patrolling the wilderness, talking to visitors, maintaining trails and continuing to ensure the protection of wild places on America’s public lands.