VetsWork: Archeology on the Ozark-St.Francis National Forest

by | VetsWork


My experiences thus far have been amazing. I have had the opportunity to be involved in a multifaceted overview of the Forest Service and what it has to offer. My daily job entails the collection and management of site reports, contract reports, and Forest Service reports. These reports represent information collected about sites in the forest and projects that are completed by the Forest Service. I am given free range to organize and catalog all the documents and various goodies I find in the downstairs office. While this type of work might seem uneventful to some, I have found it to be an opportunity to read and discover a plethora of knowledge from over 80 years.

However, though file management and deaccessioning are the primary focus of my job, my supervisor affords me the chance to go out several times a week with various job areas throughout the forest. Some of my favorite days are those in which I go out with my section in heritage. On those days my boss Lexie and I visit several sites looking for disturbances or to record newly acquired sites. These sites range from historic to pre-historic. One instance that amazed me was when we visited a site known as the Pool property. On the site sat a house that had been dated in the 1930s to 1940s but later we found evidence that it may have been the site of an even earlier homestead due to the square nails at the site. This type of nail indicates they were hand forged, dating the site the turn of the century. Without the work pertaining to site monitoring, this detail could have been overlooked. I have been able to visit dozens of sites like the one above, each with their own interesting stories. The education that I have obtained has been fascinating. Learning with archaeology how items from the field are acquired, documented, and curated has been eye opening. As I have learned more I have also been afforded the opportunity to teach groups of children about the process at a Forest Service Resource Relay day for surrounding schools. These experiences have given me a closer look at the natural world and allowed me to connect with nature and our own past through heritage training and fieldwork.

A few other opportunities that have arisen have been with the recreation areas in which I have gotten to check several campsites and inventory them for accessibility for all campers with or without disabilities. From the recreation side of the Forest Service, I am going to get a more hands on maintenance training of campgrounds in June when I will be staying at one of Arkansas’ larger sites called Wedington. Culturally, the site is amazing because the Civilian Conservation Corps did a lot of work there. Another aspect of recreation is taking care of the wilderness. I was able to do a 5-mile hike to collect an air quality sample using a wet deposition method, a fascinating method that uses the water to check the quality of the air.

The opportunities I’ve been given within the Forest Service through the Mt. Adams Institute VetsWork program have enabled my growth not only as a person but an individual in the job market. The Forest Service has opened my eyes to what is out there in the forest. The jobs are many and the adventure is boundless.