VetsWork: Where I’m Supposed to Be

Have you ever felt as if you were in the right place? The right time? The correct course and exactly where you’re supposed be? That’s exactly how I felt when I climbed out of my truck for the first day of my internship. Since that time its been a nonstop roller coaster of beautiful views, wonderful people, and hard meaningful work. Exactly where I am supposed to be. Continue Reading…

VetsWork: Adventures of a Lifetime

This internship has been nothing short of amazing. I’ve learned so much in the last two and half months. I’ve met really kind and very helpful people on the Deschutes National Forest. I am taking full advantage of filling my brain with information from staff at the Sisters Ranger District. It’s heartwarming to see how much passion everyone has for their job. I’ve learned that in the forest service, every person’s job serves a major part in the community and natural resources. I’ve taken every opportunity to go in the field with the specialists and see how they do their job.

In this picture, I am snowmobiling on Indian Ford Road on the Deschutes National Forest. I went out with the timber sale specialist and inspected how much snow was on the ground in the Green Ridge planting unit.

Here, I am working at the Clarno nursery. I helped restore the beds and cut dogwood trees for regeneration on the Deschutes National Forest.

This is an image of a finished thinning contract. I went out to the field with the district’s timber sale administrator and inspected the Glaze unit. We inspected the number of trees cut per acre.

One day, I had the opportunity to work with the district’s soil scientist. In this is picture, I am in the process of collecting a soil sample for a planting contract.

Here, we are finishing up an inspection of a planted ponderosa pine tree. I performed a fixed radius plot as per the prescription in the planting contract at the Rooster Rock unit.

On this day, I went out in the field with the district’s fish biologist and surveyed Redband trout spawning beds. In this picture, I am wading in the Metolius River. When I found a spawning bed, I laid a painted white rock at the top of the bed.

VetsWork: A Successful First Month

My first month of being part of the VetsWork program with the Mt. Adams Institute has been a great experience. The first week was member orientation, which was at the Menucha Retreat Center in Corbett, OR. This was a good way to meet the other VetsWork members. After we finished the meet and greet introductions for everyone, we had discussions about what we expected and what was expected from us during our time of service. While in our orientation week, we went for a short hike at Multnomah Falls and took part in a service project at the Mt. Hood Community College. Later in the week, Mt. Adams Institute had our site supervisors come to the Menucha Retreat Center to meet and discuss a general work plan for the upcoming year. At this point my work supervisor for the U. S. Forest Service told me that I would work with several different groups within his District Office. This would give me experience in different areas and help me build a resume to ultimately obtain a full time position working in the Forest Service.

Multnomah Falls hike during orientation week.

In my first month of the VetsWork program, I have been working on gaining a better understanding of the history of the Deschutes National Forest. I have learned a lot reading background material on the historical and current forest landscapes, fire and weather disturbances, biotic and abiotic processes, restoration of stressed sites, and sustainable ecosystem management of eastern Oregon and Washington. I have gotten out in the field snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and performing silviculture surveying of tree sites.

Snowmobiling in the Deschutes National Forest.

Lately, I have been working at the Clarno Hardwood Production Beds harvesting whips to be utilized as live stakes for direct planting.

Pruning whips at the Clarno Hardwood Production Facility.

I started off not sure of what to expect and a little apprehensive but feel much better about what I am doing at this point in the program.

VetsWork: An Awesome Opportunity

It would be impossible to tell you how much I have learned in these past three months. I moved from the city to the mountains in Oregon. I had lived in a large metropolis my entire adult life and now I am living within footsteps of forest. The opportunities that the VetsWork AmeriCorps program has provided for me have given me the experiences I need to find a high paying quality job. I still have seven months left to go to put myself into an even better position to get a job! After I finished my college studies, I was still lacking experience in my given field; the Mt. Adams Institute has facilitated in helping me get this experience.

The key to the experience so far for me is to be willing to learn or take in everything that I possibly can. I believe this program puts you in a situation where you can seek out knowledge from a variety of very smart people to make you a better person and prepare you for working in the environmental conservation field. I don’t believe there is a better internship program out there for veterans that would give us a better opportunity to learn about our natural resources. I have zero complaints about the program and would recommend it to all veterans who have an interest in public lands management.

Odell Lake

Mt. Bachelor

Deschutes River