VetsWork: “The Right Stuff”

Michael McGraw

Tbe Right Stuff. Yes, I have borrowed this title from Tom Wolfe’s recounting of NASA’s first astronauts in the U.S. space program. While I may not have the qualities and characteristics described by Wolfe as needed to be a NASA astronaut, I have found another government agency where I might have The Right Stuff required for success.

1In a flight suit and getting ready to go up in the air, but not to space

Working in the VetsWork Environment program with the Forest Service has afforded me the opportunity to pursue my passions and apply my abilities in a fruitful manner towards objectives I consider more than worthwhile. While working on projects to manage our public lands I’ve been able to research, analyze, and write in varying ways to help complete Forest Service projects. There have been opportunities for me to interact with the public by receiving their input and feedback so we could design projects in the best possible way.

3The view from atop Eagle Cap summit

But one of the biggest positives in this experience so far has been the people I’ve had a chance to work with and for in the Forest Service. They have allowed me to take on these responsibilities and roles without hesitation, which have contributed to me developing a knowledge base in the natural resource field. This has absolutely been one of the key aspects contributing to having such a positive and beneficial experience in this program. It is this trust and mentorship I’ve received that now positions me to use my skills and newly acquired knowledge to move forward with a career in the natural resource field.

2Being part of a team

I am most grateful for this present opportunity and try to take advantage of everything it provides. I am excited for what the future holds, and I will always remember where this path started. I have no doubt that this path I have chosen is the right way forward. It is full of The Right Stuff.

4Taking a break while running through the Eagle Cap


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VetsWork: Taking a Leap of Faith

Michael McGraw

Making the decision to become a VetsWork AmeriCorps member with the Mt. Adams Institute could be described as a leap of faith for me. I was at a point in my life where I was in a comfortable routine—I had a good job where I performed at a high level. However, there was not a sense of fulfillment from being passionate and satisfied in my professional life. That lack of completeness drove me to leave a stable and secure life and venture into what could be described as the unknown. There can be a great deal of uncertainty or hesitancy when one makes a grand change in their life but as the saying goes—‘nothing chanced, nothing gained.’


While at the outset this journey may have begun as a leap of faith, it has quickly descended into a landing zone of opportunity. Three remarkable organizations have partnered in a manner that will allow me to grow by learning and acquiring new skills in the natural resource field. From the beginning there have been people willing to help guide me in a way that will allow me to take advantage of a vast array of opportunities provided by the VetsWork internship.


The Mt. Adams Institute, along with AmeriCorps and the United States Forest Service, has provided an opportunity for me to mesh my professional life with the personal values and ethos I embrace. In the Writer Analyst position on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest there is a chance to have an impact on the local community in a healthy and productive way. Additionally, being able to work with the Forest Service allows me to have an impact on our nation’s natural resources. The combination of being able to impact the local community in a way that is harmonious with the natural world is an opportunity that will be extremely rewarding for me personally.


While I am now reassured in the leap of faith I took, there was still the initial doubt that I was making the right call to uproot my entire life to take a job all the way across the country. But with the support of the Mt. Adams Institute staff and the chance to learn with the Forest Service I am continually grateful for taking a chance. Everyday I now look forward to the present opportunities and for what the future holds.

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Meet VetsWork Intern Michael McGraw

Michael McGraw

I am originally from Indiana and have spent the past 5 years living in Georgia. Growing up I played almost every sport that was offered. I graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Political Science and am currently working towards my Master’s Degree in Public Policy. I joined the Navy to be a linguist and spent 5 years working at the National Security Agency in Georgia. I enjoy exploring the outdoors especially through running, mainly mountain and ultra-running. I basically love spending long days in the mountains exploring new places.

I decided to join the VetsWork AmeriCorps program to get my foot in the door in a field that deals with environmental and natural resources issues. It will afford me the opportunity to gain experience in a field that seemed to be difficult to otherwise break into. I will be serving as a Writer Analyst Intern for the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. I look forward to getting to understand how the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Forest Service interact in land management issues. And also to see how competing interests are balanced against each other.

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Meet VetsWork Intern Tyler Glidden

Tyler Glidden

My name is Tyler Glidden. I grew up in Alaska, I love being from Alaska. I did it all, from fishing, snowmobiling and riding dirt bikes. I did four years in the Navy and was stationed in San Diego onboard the USS Pearl Harbor. I did multiple missions in the South Pacific.

I joined Mt. Adams Institute because I felt that it would be a great opportunity for me to network within the U.S. Forest Service. I am extremely excited about my position on the Mt. Hood National Forest. I will be the Facilities & Recreation Intern. I’m hoping that this opportunity turns into a full time position with the Forest Service.

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