VetsWork: Doing More for Less

One of the challenges we face here at the Forest Service is a dwindling budget. It can make upkeep of recreation sites difficult, but also rewarding after completing a project with the bare minimum of supplies or by finding old supplies that others employees no longer use. The purpose of my position is to help increase capacity through my AmeriCorps service, allowing the Forest Service to complete work that otherwise wouldn’t get done under current budget and staffing. Continue Reading…

VetsWork: Recreation in the Forest

A big problem I was faced with after leaving the service was finding a suitable job that I actually enjoyed doing, as well as one that gave me a purpose. I knew I wanted to work in recreation or natural resources, but found that it was more difficult than I thought. To get an entry-level position, you need both experience and education and it’s difficult to get one without the other. After a while it got really discouraging. Finding the VetsWork AmeriCorps program has given me the encouragement I need to keep going after what I want. Every person I spoke with who had a career with the Forest Service kept telling me I needed to be willing to move away from home. So I did. Being from eastern Tennessee there surprisingly wasn’t a whole lot of job options for what I wanted, so at the end of last summer I made the decision to apply for the Ouachita National Forest recreation technician intern position through the Mt. Adams Institute. To my surprise I got it, however, to be honest, I was really skeptical at first; I thought it was a scam (it sounded too good to be true). Now I could not be happier. In the first week I mainly worked alongside a group of volunteers from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

Texas A&M volunteers go mining for crystals in the quartz capital of the world (Ouchita National Forest).

 

After that, my first month has mostly consisted of getting ready for the summer season; that just means a lot of campsite maintenance.

Replacing picnic tables at Hickory Nut Mountain Campground.

Charlton is one of our more popular day use and camping recreation destinations.

 

A big part of the internship I am mostly looking forward to is going to fire school and getting my red card to be able to do wildland firefighting. When I was active duty, firefighting was a big part of being in the navy and I miss it.

Our monthly safety meeting was conducted by firefighters who instructed us on how they control fires from the air.

 

The hardest thing for me so far is being away from my family, but other than that I wouldn’t change anything else. I truly could not be more grateful to be here and it’s just the start into my career that I need.