VetsWork: Escaping the Rat Race & Heading to the Forest

Sonny Tamez

Most people know what they want to be when they grow up. As kids we think of careers such as a Fireman, Policeman, or a Doctor. I never really knew what I wanted to be and just let “future Sonny” worry about that. I never really had a job that I felt like I wanted to do for the rest of my life and spent a lot of time thinking about and searching for different career paths. It wasn’t until I moved to Portland that I started appreciating National Forests and started thinking about careers with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). I just needed to get my foot in the forest and then I found the Mt. Adams Institute (MAI) VetsWork program. After watching some videos and reading some of the past VetsWork member blogs I knew this was my way to escape the rat race and get a foot in the door with the Forest Service. Even though it was going to be a risky, tough road I knew if I didn’t jump at this chance instantly I might not have another.

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From the very start I felt as though this risky decision was filled with many opportunities and support from everyone. The Mt. Adams Institute, along with AmeriCorps and the USFS, has provided an abundant amount of support to help me work in my position and make an impact without the worry of failing. I have never had a job where I felt like work was not work, but a new adventure every day.

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Even though most of my work is office based it is still such an inspirational feeling knowing the work I do here has an impact on the Mt. Hood National Forest. Every day I continue to learn more about processes that preserve the beauty of the mountain. Working in the Special Uses & Recreation department was a great opportunity in itself. I am included in all types of current and future projects on the forest and I have been able to work and communicate with many different departments. For an extra bonus I am learning about all the different activities and places to go during my time off. Every day I look forward to getting up in the morning and making the 45 minute commute to work and I don’t know many people that can say that. I think the hardest part about this job is wanting to go do field work almost every day. I am glad that I took the chance and I look forward to applying all I learn to become successful in acquiring a position working with the USFS.

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