I am serving as a recreation intern based at the Glacier Ranger District in Girdwood, Alaska for the U.S. Forest Service on the Chugach National Forest. Finding this position came at the perfect time in my life and I am so ecstatic to be here! I was burned out with school and needed a break, if not a change all together and the Mt. Adams Institute VetsWork program was the answer. The two short months since I have started have already been so packed with one new opportunity after another. Most days I am able to participate in a brand new adventure that I would have not gotten to experience otherwise. And the broad scope that I am able to jump in on from time to time is enormous!
So far I have been able to take a trip down to Seward Ranger District to help out with their annual Kids Ice Fishing Day. It was such a special experience to watch 80 sixth graders not afraid to get their hands dirty or wet from the freezing water as they tried to grab their fish to get it off the hook. The kids listened so intently on instructions and information about the different species of fish and were very cognizant of sizing regulations. They were each very careful to not pull the fish out of the water and remove the hook gently if they happened to hook a juvenile Coho Salman.
I have also been able to attend Interpretive Guide Training to be better prepared working with the public and sharing information about the area. These skills will come in handy over the summer since I will be assisting with operations at our visitor’s center and an upcoming Alaska Outdoor School we will be hosting for a group of fifth graders.
Next week I head to Palmer for a week long Guard School to get my Red Card to be qualified and eligible to help fight wildland fires during the fire season.
I have even gotten some graphic design and marketing/advertising experience under my belt working on a double-sided panel that will be displayed in Whittier, a major port city on the Prince William Sound. This kiosk will be seen by thousands of visitors and highlights some of the features of the area, Leave No Trace principles, maps, and other useful information to travelers and locals alike. Along with the kiosk work, I was also able to assist a local non-profit organization, the Prince William Sound Stewardship Foundation, by creating two banners that will be displayed at their talks, clean-ups and events.
These are just a few examples of opportunities that aren’t necessarily in my “job description” however, I have so many interests and there is nothing I don’t want to learn. Luckily, I expressed interest in these experiences and I was able to take advantage. Going in to the summer months my position will be more geared towards facility maintenance and working within the recreation teams. Everything else is just a pleasant bonus to add to my gear bag and gain hands-on experience.