My name is Dallas Reece Rhinehart. I served 5 years in the Navy as a Hospital Corpsman before transitioning into civilian life, and the Mt. Adams Institute (MAI) VetsWork program. I’m currently serving on the North Fork John Day Ranger District of the Umatilla National Forest and I can’t put into words how thankful I am!
I work in the facilities/engineering department and so far this opportunity has been amazing! I transitioned out of the military pretty recently, in December of 2018, and every plan I’d made up until that point had fallen through. I didn’t get accepted into college, I was unable to do an apprenticeship program, and my terminal leave had been turned down.
I thought long and hard about where I wanted to go in life during that time, and that’s when I stumbled upon MAI via an Instagram ad.
I was raised in a small town in Northern California in between Yosemite and Tahoe and spent a lot of my time outdoors as a result. The area was absolutely beautiful and I couldn’t get enough! This passion for the outdoors grew while I was in the military attached to 1st Battalion 3rd Marine Division; we spent a lot of time outside. I’d never connected my love for the natural world with any career opportunities, even though my Grandpa was in the Forest Service, until stumbling on MAI.
I connected the dots and figured I’d apply—I really didn’t have anything to lose. I had almost zero expectations going into my orientation week and this experience has nothing but go above and beyond those expectations.
So far in the program I’ve been exposed to maintenance/construction projects, as well as attending the S212 chainsaw class, and I’m excited for what’s to come. I’ve got wildldand fire school, engineering projects, recreation projects, and surveying projects to look forward to and that’s just for now!
This whole opportunity has done nothing but broaden my experience and open my eyes to what’s possible in the natural resources realm and for that I am extremely grateful!