VetsWork: Exploring New Territory

by | VetsWork

When I applied to the VetsWork internship I had just finished my bachelor’s degree in exercise science and an internship with a college football team. 

The job market in that field is very limited in my hometown so I began stressing over what I was going to do. After various and extensive Indeed and Monster job searches, I just typed in “veteran” and this perfect headline popped up about a paid internship with the U.S. Forest Service. They were specifically looking for veterans pursuing a career and willing to work outdoors in order to obtain experience in natural resource management. Finally, the dream job had been found. I immediately contacted Mt. Adams Institute for more information and submitted my resume right away. Since the position I applied for was right by my home, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to stop by and introduce myself.  After patiently waiting weeks for a decision, checking in every so often after a couple of delays, I finally got the phone call. I got the position. 

As quickly as everything started, it came to a screeching halt. Due to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus, we were all directed to begin working from home. Working from home had its perks though. I was able to read and study some valuable information regarding wildfire management and even completed several online training courses. I was also able to read up on different wildlife species and their behavior. Fortunately, in the Forest Service, some of the field projects could continue as long as each person drove a separate vehicle and we adhered to the six-foot rule as best as possible. We began projects to relocate wildlife that were not just a nuisance, but would also benefit another project area. We’ve spent days disking fields and planting seed in order to encourage wildlife activity and provide better nutrients for the soil, as well as enhancing the aesthetics of the environment. Other days in the field are spent working on routine projects that enhance my proficiency of skills like that of power tools or learning something new such as tracking bird breeding routes or proper use and application of pesticide and herbicide chemicals. 

It’s strange to think that only three months have passed by. There have been a lot of things that have taken place in such a short amount of time, not only within the internship but in our country and our world as a whole. I’ve been impressed by how my supervisors, colleagues, and even myself have been able to navigate and manage all of the obstacles we encounter, new and old. As the year continues and this opportunity progresses I look forward to seeing new areas in the National Forest, learning a lot more about the native wildlife, becoming Level 1 Wildland Firefighter certified, and seeing a couple bears would be pretty cool.

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