I never knew how many doors could be opened from an internship. Working through the Mt. Adam’s Institute VetsWork program has been the best choice I have made since being in the Marine Corps. I am doing my internship at the Mark Twain National Forest as a Recreation Technician. It was a bit overwhelming at first, because this was the first time in my life ever being involved with the Forest Service, but within two days I hit the ground running. Knowing that they can gain from my experience in construction and me gaining knowledge in their expertise is phenomenal. I have enjoyed everyday and moment. Learning routine maintenance of all the facilities from mowing camp and day use areas to trail maintenance and being part of prescribed burns. Everyday brings a different project needing to be done. It is definitely not for the faint of heart. You need to be motivated and take the initiative, I’ve always been a go getter and I feel like part of the team again. Being able to meet people who visit these beautiful areas and be told what a great job we are doing is very rewarding. I love to see the smiles on their faces and the appreciation we receive.
So far I have helped with a lot of debris cleanup from previous floods, participated in two prescribed burns as road traffic control, moved an existing bathroom to a new foundation and installed a new roof on it, did trail maintained for Earth Day and I am now certified in the crosscut Sawyer training. There are many projects to come as I will be Crew Lead for our Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) this summer. The comradery is amazing with the recreation crew and I never feel like an outsider. I look forward to the rest of my time here and just take in as much knowledge and experiences I can from all these wonderful people.