VetsWork: Settling in at the Poplar Bluff Ranger District


So far the move to Poplar Bluff, MO to take this internship has been completely smooth. I grew up in a town less than twenty miles from here and have been hunting and fishing on the National Forest in this area since I was child. Being familiar with the area and having numerous family and friends nearby has made the transition a lot easier than I had originally thought it was going to be.


Cave exploring at the Vetswork orientation near Ft Leonardwood, MO.

 Upon arriving here the first thing I noticed was how good the working environment throughout the district is. From my supervisor to coworkers and even other volunteers, everyone seems upbeat and extremely willing to accept a newcomer and show them the ropes. This was a huge relief. Sometimes during my eight years in the Army I learned that when you arrive at a new duty station, people can expect you to instantly know your way around and all the duties you’re responsible for without giving you too much direction. That wasn’t the case here. Everyone so far has been nothing but friendly and helpful.


Largemouth fishing during time off on the Mark Twain National Forest

My actual duties so far with the Engineering group have been a blast. Each day we are out in the field, dealing mostly with the forest roads. From documenting to layout and design, they have a fairly complicated work load but do a great job explaining it all to me. Although I’ve been in a similar job field since graduation, the Forest Service has its own unique challenges and standards on keeping the road system operational. But again, my supervisors have been great teachers and I’m picking up the duty scope well I believe.


These turkeys must know we’re working and not hunting…

It’s Springtime here in Missouri, and the forest is in bloom. The plants and trees are bright and full of color, making the scenery spectacular. However, it presents its own challenges. Line of sight visibility while out doing our work becomes impaired, nats and mosquitos guard the damp areas, and hornets, wasps, yellow jackets, and snakes are some of the other friendly critters lying in wait to greet somebody getting close to their homes. It’s also turkey season in Missouri right now which brings people from all over the country by the waves trying to tag out on one of our “budget birds.” Coincidentally, they tend to pick camping areas in the exact same spots that we may have work scheduled for. But oh well, if I said these were complaints, I’d be lying. I’m having a lot of fun learning the trade, and doing it in some of the most beautiful places in the state are just another bonus to working with the Forest Service.


An out-of-state hunter visiting the Mark Twain bags another one of Missouri’s “Budget Birds…”

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