VetsWork: The Natural State

by | VetsWork

Hello, my name is Shawn Bailer. Ever since I was a little boy growing up in Arkansas, I knew the outdoors was where I felt at home. While I was serving my country in the United States Air Force deployed to Afghanistan and Turkey thousands of miles from home, I still had that same feeling. In early March of this year I got the experience of a lifetime. I became a member of Mt. Adams Institute’s VetsWork Program serving through AmeriCorps on the Ozark St. Francis National Forest.

During my first three months I have experienced a lot of what the United States Forest Service (USFS) does for the community and the national forests as a whole. I have attended various meetings including the Forest Leadership team and a few monthly safety meetings. I spent my whole first month with the Timber markers learning about how important their job is for forest growth and wildlife management. Although I am a heritage intern, I have had the amazing opportunity to branch off to work as a recreation technician going to different recreational sites cleaning up the area for daily/weekend visitor use. I have spent a week at Fire Training Academy learning to become a firefighter for the USFS. I have worked alongside the biologist helping teach over 200 students about Water ecology, macro invertebrates, and tracks and scat at the Dwight Mission Church camp in Oklahoma. This opportunity has been a great advancement in helping achieve my goal of one day becoming a full time Forest service employee.