VetsWork: Gaining Elevation

As I look out my window today I find it hard to believe it’s the 25th of January. When my family and I arrived here last April there was more snow on the ground than there is right now, and it seemed a lot colder. Since then I have learned and experienced a whole lot. I am not certain if I would refer to myself as a natural resource manager…however I know that I am definitely no longer a marine maintenance technician! I have had the privilege to work alongside a group of outstanding individuals here in the Monongahela National Forest, and for that I am grateful. My VetsWork AmeriCorps internship is nearing the end, and with it, the final blog. I will be heading west soon as a seasonal firefighter.

This program has allowed me some incredible opportunities and helped to bridge a gap that hasn’t been filled since I left the United States Army. I want to thank everyone who has helped me find my place this year, and given me a jump-start towards an awesome position in Wildland Fire! Without your leadership, guidance, training, and mentorship I would not be looking forward to an exciting new career. As usual I want to thank my family, friends, and especially my wife, who has met every challenge with me along the way. May God bless each and every one of you throughout the year and may you continue to “care for the land and serve people.”

For anyone interested in pursuing ANY future plans, dreams, aspirations, goals, or even whims; I hope that you will follow your instincts! If you feel like you are stuck, perhaps it’s finally time to do something about it. Change is good! It helps to refine us as the people we were meant to become. How will you know who you are unless you try new things and experience different circumstances in your life? Jim Rohn, a motivational speaker, once said, “you cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction.” In my life I have seen a whole lot of both–especially as a full time RV’er. However I have learned throughout the process that everything starts from within. You cannot make a change in your life, no matter how small, unless YOU effect that change. I leave you with some of the many pictures of the district, and the wonderful and wild places I have seen as a VetsWork AmeriCorps member. Thanks again to AmeriCorps, Mt. Adams Institute, the VetsWork program, and everyone on the Monongahela for a great year!

Early morning sunrise over the Gauley River

Fall colors on display at the Cranberry Glades

A giant root ball from a Red Oak that fell during a tornado

Rhododendron, the State flower of West Virginia

Another day done…thanks Lord!

Summit Lake fishing area and campground

Turkey tail fungus on one of the many snags throughout the forest

Falls of Hills Creek (Middle Falls)

Bergamot flower from the Monarda didyma plant more commonly referred to as Scarlet Beebalm

Reflections of West Virginia on the Cranberry River in the wilderness

Training with the White Sulphur Springs Fire Crew

VetsWork: Heritage Work on the Monongahela National Forest

Nathan DameronThe summer field season has been a blur of activity, and although I have periodically checked up on other blogs, composing my next contribution to the Mt. Adams blog has been one of the furthest things from my mind.  In consideration of these facts, I present to you a photo blog of heritage work on the Monongahela National Forest.

Deteriorating historic infrastructure. West Virginia has always been a “resource extraction” state, and many buildings tell the tale of past boom times.

Deteriorating historic infrastructure. West Virginia has always been a “resource extraction” state, and many buildings tell the tale of past boom times.

Multiple civil war forts provide glimpses back in time

Multiple civil war forts provide glimpses back in time.

Limestone and Sandstone have created multiple rock shelters on the Monongahela. Shown here is the deluxe two level variety. These are commonly associated with pre-historic habitation.

Limestone and Sandstone have created multiple rock shelters on the Monongahela. Shown here is the deluxe two level variety.  These are commonly associated with pre-historic habitation.

We had the fortune of being trained by HistoriCorps as part of a project to restore an old cabin on the forest.

We had the fortune of being trained by HistoriCorps as part of a project to restore an old cabin on the forest.

I made this new window ledge. One of many “firsts” for me on the cabin restoration project.

I made this new window ledge. One of many “firsts” for me on the cabin restoration project.

Can you spot the preservation opportunity?

Can you spot the preservation opportunity?

Positive feedback when we cut back the overgrown vegetation at this site was immediate. We received multiple visitors while we worked.

Positive feedback when we cut back the overgrown vegetation at this site was immediate. We received multiple visitors while we worked.

The final photos are before and after shots of a project I had the opportunity of leading.  Although it’s nearly impossible to choose a favorite project of the summer, this vegetation cleanup project was hands down the most fulfilling.  Not only did this put to active use the chainsaw training I had received earlier in the summer, it also provided a unique partnership opportunity with a group that has opposed other aspects of forest service work in the region.

In other words, we did not let our difference of opinions preclude us from working together on common goals.  Although this is wisdom that can always bear repeating, it seems even timelier given the current political climate in the country, and was definitely heartening to me.  Now with just over three months left in my internship, it’s time to see about turning these experiences into a job.

A regional meeting with other VetsWork interns included a train ride!

A regional meeting with other VetsWork interns included a train ride!

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