When I started my journey of finding my way after serving in the Navy at the end of 2016, I had no idea the adventure I embarked on was going to be so developmental in my future career in environmental conservation. I took the pledge to, “…get things done for America – to make our people safer, smarter, and healthier…” and became an AmeriCorps Member in March of 2017 hitting the ground running. I could not have asked for better program managers, supervisors, and co-workers to share this with. I am surrounded by a community of people who are just as passionate about our public lands as I am, and this internship has opened the door to becoming a permanent public land steward in the future. The training opportunities that I have been given would not have been achievable without the partnership of my VetsWork Internship and the Forest Service. Just to name a few accomplishments: CPR/First Aid re-certified, chainsaw operation certified, Leave No Trace Master Educator certified, selected as the Leave No Trace SC State Advocate, and working towards my crosscut saw and red card certifications as I am wrapping up my term of service. It is hard to believe that before March I had no idea what Leave No Trace really meant, and now I represent the entire state of South Carolina for the next 2 years. It’s just incredible to think that I, as one person, can truly make an impact on environmental conservation and the preservation of our public lands.
Typically around this time I would be wrapping up my internship, hopefully applying for some job positions, and maybe getting some calls for interviews. But! Instead I have excitedly signed on for another term of service with Mt. Adams Institute and the Forest Service continuing to serve as the Partnership and Volunteer Coordinator for Sumter National Forest in 2018. My primary motive behind signing on for another term is my professional development. 10.5 months sounds long but in reality a short amount of time as well. I have grown so much during these past 10 months, but I still have so much room left to grow and develop new skills working with the Forest Service. There are more training opportunities I want to capitalize on, and another term of service will help me do just that. The secondary reason for my second year is because I have just begun to develop the volunteer program and another year will give me the time needed to really make it blossom and self-sustaining. The goal is once I leave Sumter National Forest and the Volunteer Program one that it is better than I found it, and two that it will be carried forward easily and my replacement will be able to pick up the program and run with it. I will be holding on to the torch for now.
“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.”
― Gary Snyder