Placement: Clark County Public Works
Position: Parks and Trails Stewardship Coordinator
I was born in Eugene, Oregon on March 17th 1978, and was raised in suburbs of Portland, Oregon. I am an Oregonian through and through, and proud of it. After dabbling in odd jobs and not being able to figure out a direction for my life, I joined to U.S. Army in September of 2000. After 6 months of training in Oklahoma and Texas, I was stationed in Germany. It was a small base in the quaint village of Babenhausen, Germany. The base had formerly served as a World War 1 cavalry base and then a lesser airfield during World War 2. It had a deep history and culture that I embraced and used as a baseline for the rest of my time in Germany. I spent the next three and a half years exploring Germany and the rest of Europe, particularly noting the differences between where I was and the suburbs of America where I had come from. It was a truly eye opening experience for me and one that I wish everyone could experience, the good and the bad. Between my entrance and discharge I spent four years serving through 9/11, Operation Iraqi Freedom, as a part of Operation Northern Defense in Turkey, and was a member of the color guard, bearing the Army colors, at the 60th anniversary of D-Day. All irreplaceable life experiences.
After my release I tried my hand in mechanical engineering design for several years, but found that this fell short of the passions I held for the environment and environmental sustainability that I had come to embrace through my youth and life experiences. I ultimately decided to go back to school and recently graduated from Portland State University with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Sciences and Management. I had a hard time finding an entry level position in the environmental field. Finally, I stumbled upon the Mt. Adams institute, who was looking for veterans looking to work in the environmental field, and new immediately that this opportunity was likely to be an excellent fit for me. I found a position with the Clark County Parks and Rec. Department as a Parks and Trails Stewardship Coordinator, just a short distance from my home in Vancouver, Washington, and jumped on the opportunity. After meeting the staff there, I knew this was where I should be. With support from my family, I jumped in head long.
Not knowing what to expect, I traveled to the little known town of Trout Lake, Washington, and was blown away by the reception and training I received by the staff of the Mt. Adams Institute. This only further reinforced my thoughts that I was doing the right thing and in the right place. In addition, it invigorated my desire to embrace the new position I will be undertaking with the Clark County Parks Department. I have ambitions to take out of this not only experience in my field, but also hope to make changes and differences in the parks department that they can use from now until, well, forever. I feel the key points of success for me will be increased community volunteerism, improvement in the usability of Clark County Parks and improvements to, and initiation of, existing and new programs focused around environmental sustainability and other issues such as water quality and wildlife habitat.