VetsWork: From North to South

by | VetsWork

Hi my name is Adam. I am currently doing an internship with the VetsWork AmeriCorps program through Mt. Adams Institute. I am working as a recreation technician with the Grandfather Ranger District at the Pisgah National Forest in Nebo, NC. Before I tell you what this internship means to me, I want to tell you a little about myself. I am 35 years old, married with two children. I am a veteran of the U.S. Army and have been out for 13 years. Besides my time in the Army, I have lived in Illinois my whole life so moving to North Carolina was an exciting adventure for my whole family. I have had a few different jobs but never a career and that is what drew me to this internship. I was attending college to obtain my degree in science when I was notified of the opportunity for this internship with VetsWork.   My hope when I was going to school was to land a career in the Forest Service, so this was the ideal scenario to be able to get some work experience behind my education.

As a recreation technician, (which from here on out I will refer to as a Rec Tec) I am responsible for many different tasks in the Forest Service. First off the Grandfather Ranger District is 192,000 acres and spreads over five counties. We have two paid camping locations with a total of 40 campsites along with at least that many more free dispersed campsites. There are 300 miles worth of recreation trails used for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and also 34 of which are used for OHV riding. The OHV trails are actually what drew me to this specific location when I was applying for the program. ATV riding is a hobby of my family’s and mine. In western North Carolina, where I am located, there are over 250 waterfalls. Everywhere you go you are sure to find one along your trip. The Mountain to Sea trail travels through the district and ties a lot of the hiking trails together. The Blue Ridge Parkway also travels through which gives access to many of the hiking trails and amazing overlooks which I have provided photos of below. Fortunately for me, many of my different tasks bring me to some of the most beautiful locations in the Eastern U.S. There are several different mountains within our district that I have the privilege to visit on a regular basis that offer outstanding views!!

On to my responsibilities as a Rec Tec; I am a handy man, a plumber, a grounds keeper, a construction worker, a painter, a sanitation specialist, public server, trail crew member, and even a mechanic on somedays. My activities change on a daily basis which is great for me. The Forest Service has been great to work with, they are very flexible in their planning and have allowed me to use my existing talents as well as build and learn new ones. I am getting the opportunity to become certified in wildland fire management (red card), chainsaw training, and first aid certification. As summer approaches my duties will be more focused on the mowing and ground keeping aspect of the recreation areas as this is a very popular vacation destination over the summer and fall months. I am looking forward to the months ahead in this internship and I am very pleased with all I have been able to do thus far.