Like many other organizations and operations, we were put on halt mid-March from doing any field work, engaging with the public and various other operations. We were put on telework orders and given new instructions what seemed like daily. There was a lot of waiting around to hear from our regional office, our district office, and even from our direct supervisors. The important thing I realized, was to just keep going. I have continued communication with my volunteer groups, and still able to reach out to community organizations.
The pandemic has also raised awareness to other future programs. One of the projects I have been working on is establishing virtual communication to our visitors through videos. I noticed a few areas on our forest that may have been getting too much attention. Through reaching out to visitors and some of my other volunteer groups I realized that this was due to lack of information. The general public did not know there was other spots to go, or how to access them. I want to publish these videos with the hopes to answer some of these questions, as well as relieve some stress from some our more populated areas. Another goal of mine is to introduce people to more outdoor activities that people may not get involved in because they don’t know how or lack the necessary information to obtain the equipment they need.
This is my second time participating in the program, and I love it. Since my last VetsWork internship, I have worked for the National Park Service, a youth residential camp, The Honolulu Zoo Society, and MWR (Moral Welfare and Recreation). I joined again so I could build my skills with public lands. I have also been working full time on my degree from Northern Arizona University in Parks and Recreation Management, where I have been able to hold a spot on the dean’s list. I graduated in August! It has been a challenge juggling everything, but its doable. This program provides me with the support and tools necessary to accomplish it.