VetsWork: Learn Something New Everyday, About Yourself or the World Around You

Here we are at the end of spring and at the beginning of summer. As the summer solstice approaches, the days are incredibly long and I am able to enjoy more sunsets. I do not know why, but even though I’ve been in Oregon for 3 summers now, I am still surprised by how late the sun sets here. Being that I am from Florida, the days in the northwest are much longer than the southeast –I believe it’s by a good hour or so. I love long days! They allow me to be outside more on a daily basis and my husband and I are able to enjoy at least a part of the day together after work. Plus, it’s no fun waking up when it’s dark outside.

I have finally found my groove in the office and am even accurately remembering names of the lovely people around here. I still can’t believe how nice everyone is and how willing to help out with things. I have remained quite busy these past few months and have continued to learn something new every day. I truly believe that if a person doesn’t learn something new every day, whether it is about themselves or about the world around them, then they are not living life properly. If you just realized you are one of these people – it’s not too late to learn something today! If you ever want to hear a random and often useless fact, I’m full of them.

Last month we had our Watershed Field Days for the area 5th graders and it was a lot of fun! It was nice to see the results of our work in trying to organize it this year. In total, there were nearly 800 students that were able to participate in learning about everything watershed related. The students were in eight groups and rotated between different stations throughout the day. They learned about water quality, plant identification, macroinvertebrates (as pictured below), wildlife, weather, soils, first foods, and stream stabilization. It was an exhausting yet fun filled week for me.


Another event I was able to participate in was the Salmon Summit held in Kennewick, Washington. This is a celebration and learning day for the area’s 5th graders who have participated in “Salmon in the Classroom”. The kids would release the salmon raised from eggs in their class and release them into the river and afterwards spend the day learning from various presenters about salmon related matters. This was something that was looming since I started in February. At first it was a little intimidating to be asked if I could lead a 20 minute interactive presentation of my choice to multiple groups of kids. That day had come and I prepared a presentation from almost scratch. I decided to do an activity about invasive species of the Columbia River. In the beginning it was going to be how these invasive species affected the salmon, but that was a little easier said than done. It morphed into the most interesting invasive species of the Columbia River. While figuring out how I was going to pull it off, I decided to go with colorful and part interactive and part teaching. I ended up with 6 species and was able to turn it into a game of sorts. I posted the picture of the board I came up with. I’d read a story about the animal or plant and then have the kids in 6 different groups and they’d work together to put up the cards in the correct box. Pictured below is what the finished result would look like. It was fun and I think the kids enjoyed it. The teachers would even come and tell me that they learned something from it. I got help from another VetsWork member – Jonathane Schmitt who does the invasive species work around Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

Overall, it has certainly been an eventful past two months. We are gearing up for Natural Resource Career Camp for Young Women that takes place at the end of the month and then I’m off to Ukiah to tackle the wilderness portion of the internship – which will hopefully include more aesthetic forest/nature photos. I am also scheduled to attend Incident Qualification (a.k.a. red-card) training in a couple weeks and will be working alongside the GreenCorps crew on that.


My husband has been looking all over the western portion of the U.S. for permanent wildland fire positions. The good news is that he got a job! The bad news is that it’s 9+ hours away in Nevada. I want to finish the internship out so we’ll be living in different states for the time being. It’ll be hard but we’ve lived apart before and it probably won’t feel too different than a regular wildland fire season since he’s hardly home during that time anyways. The place he’s going to seems nice. Looks like it’s going to be high desert terrain which is similar to the area we’re in now. I’m looking forward the possible opportunities that I may have down there after the internship!


That’s all I have for now. Thanks for reading!