Meet Jason Chapman, 2020 VetsWork AmeriCorps Intern!

I grew up in northern Georgia. Shortly after high school, I joined the U.S. Army and became an Airborne Ranger. In 2015 I retired from the U.S. Army with over 21 years of active service as a Special Forces Non-Commissioned officer. Since retirement I have been searching for an opportunity that would enable me to do meaningful work and protect our natural resources while working outdoors.

Being selected by the Mt Adams Institute’s VetsWork program has really given me the opportunity to achieve my goals as a steward of our natural resources. This opportunity gives me a new mission and I am very honored to be selected.

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: Enjoying My Experience As A VetsWork AmeriCorps Intern

My name is Colin Crofts, and I am a VetsWork intern assigned to the Conasauga Ranger District of the Chattahoochee National Forest in Chatsworth, GA.  I applied and was accepted for an internship as a forestry technician, which was one of several jobs to choose from in the VetsWork AmeriCorps program with the Mt. Adams Insitute.   Aside from being a Marine I have always wanted to work for the United States Forest Service (USFS).  I came across this opportunity while applying for USFS jobs after retiring from the Marines and it seemed like an excellent way to get my foot in the door and gain much of the experience required for the jobs I had been applying for without success.

I started working here March 13, 2017 and so far I have worked with both the recreation and timber crews.  I have been extremely happy working in the outdoors on a daily basis and knowing I am performing a job that means something to me and everyone else who enjoys recreation on our public lands.  In March I was assigned to the recreation crew, where I helped to maintain campgrounds, shooting ranges, Forest Service roads and hiking trails. The main focus here has been to prepare for the opening of campgrounds for the season.  My work during this time included testing and turning on drinking water; removing leaves and debris from roads, camp sites and picnic areas; building a board walk for a hiking trail; removing hazard trees and blow downs to ensure safety and accessibility of Forest Service roads, trails and facilities; as well as cleaning restrooms and removing trash.

During prescribed burns all the crews join together in this effort.  I was able to assist the incident commander with smoke observation and learn what takes place during prescribed burns.

Additionally I assisted in recording data from the air quality station and replacing the cartridges from the machines that monitor and collect air quality data.

In April I was assigned to the timber crew.  So far I have assisted with the treatment of eastern hemlock which is plagued with the non-native invasive hemlock woolly adelgid.

I also assisted in marking leaved trees “do not cut” to create open forest for a habitat enhancement plot and measured and marked trees for timber sale thinning.


In order to perform some of these tasks I have had to receive special training and certificates.  Thus far I have received training and been certified to operate a chainsaw and a ditch witch, and I received a certificate through an online webinar for treatment of the hemlock wooly adelgid.  One of the major benefits I thoroughly enjoy about this program is the training and certificates that the USFS allows VetsWork AmeriCorps interns to obtain.  I see these training opportunities as assets that will stand out on a VetsWork intern’s resume when applying for USFS, NPS, BLM or similar jobs within the Department of Agriculture or Department of Interior. So far I am having a blast and really enjoying the work I have been performing.

VetsWork: Top 5 Reasons Why My Job Had A Huge Impact

Jarret Griesemer

1. I directly supported forest health assessments on 806 acres.

Forests dominate much of the King County landscape, covering two-thirds of the land area. – King County Rural Forest Commission

Forest health assessment for private forest landowner.Forest health assessment for private forest landowner.

2. I helped to develop stewardship plans that will place approximately 1,020 acres of public land under active stewardship in Snoqualmie, Bothell, and Shoreline.  

About 619,000 acres of forestland in King County are in public ownership.  – King County Rural Forest Commission

Community volunteer at forest restoration event in Snoqualmie, WA.Community volunteer at forest restoration event in Snoqualmie, WA.

3. In a little over 10 months, I helped 3 rural forest landowners to complete comprehensive forest management plans. This will place 5 more acres under active forest management, adding to the over 16,600 acres already participating in King County’s Forestry Program.

There are over 6,000 small forest landowners with holdings of four acres or larger and thousands more who own “backyard forests” on smaller lots. – King County Rural Forest Commission

Forest site visit on Vashon Island with King County Forester, Kristi McClelland

Forest site visit on Vashon Island with King County Forester, Kristi McClelland

4. I educated 351 community members and students about environmental topics, including forest health and restoration, for a total of 1,382 hours.

The three greatest threats to native biodiversity in King County (and most places) are development and associated fragmentation and loss of habitat, invasive species, and climate change (not necessarily in that order). – King County

Volunteers from local Girl Scout troop helping remove invasive blackberry bushes in Snoqualmie, WA.

Volunteers from local Girl Scout troop helping remove invasive blackberry bushes in Snoqualmie, WA.

5. I worked with community volunteers to install 2 Hügelkultur garden mounds that will provide 400 square feet of community garden space.

As a growing portion of the urban open space network, community gardens and gardeners are contributing to land preservation, access to open space, and sustainable uses of usually otherwise vacant land.  – University of Washington

Installing a Hügelkultur garden mound with DigginShoreline in Shoreline, WA.

Installing a Hügelkultur garden mound with DigginShoreline in                   Shoreline, WA.

Picture Quiz – Can you guess if it’s an Urban or Backcountry Forest?
Urban forests in King County are beautiful and often times indistinguishable from backcountry forests. Answers at the bottom.

1. One is from the City of Snoqualmie and one is from the Olympic National Forest. Which is urban forest?


2. One is from the City of Bothell and one is from the Olympic National Forest. Which is urban forest?


3. One is from the City of Redmond and one is from the Olympic National Forest. Which is urban forest?


4. One is from the City of Seattle and one is from the Dome Valley in New Zealand. Which is urban forest?


ANSWERS: (1) A (2) A (3) B (4) B

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