As 0530 in the morning approached, my alarm clock sounds off my new found Reveille, sounding more like a chirp than an enthusiastic trumpet player. My routine hasn’t changed much from my days in the Air Force. Eager to start my day I roll from my bed hitting the floor where I push out as many pushups and crunches as I can, a fast and effective method for awaking from my eight hour hibernation. Faster than a politician’s promises on Election Day, I dress and groom myself for a day filled with productivity and adventure. With a quick sip of coffee and bite of my breakfast which still sizzles in the skillet, I’m out the door enthusiastically anticipating the events to follow.
While I’m an Engineering & Natural Resource Management Assistant intern my duties vary from day to day. With fire season on our forests doorstep no schedule is concrete. Each day is a new adventure as I pull into my spot at the Ava Ranger District of the Mark Twain National Forest. On the walk from my vehicle to my desk in our building I stand a high chance of being recruited to hop in with another discipline (timber, recreation, ect) and lend a hand for the day before ever reaching the steps into my building. I have yet to experience a day of monotony and find many individuals I have worked with so far to be passionate about what they do, and eager to teach me what they know. Being blessed to have grown up with the Mark Twain National Forest as my backyard, I already have a deep-rooted understanding and appreciation for the forest and all that it has to offer. The opportunities here are endless.
My last few weeks have been filled with a wide variety of things to do and to see. On our tour of the Hercules Glades Wilderness we stopped by to familiarize ourselves with some of the trail-heads and the Hercules Tower. Like many forests there are several of these fire watches throughout each serving as a good reference point to locate were you are on a map.
On one of our down days we also took part in constructing trail head signs to replace some that has unfortunately been vandalized. With years of construction and handyman work under my belt this was something I enjoyed getting to partake in to benefit the Forest and its users.
I really enjoy working in both Engineering and Natural Resource Management, and have been learning a lot from the supervisors in each area. On the Engineering side of the house, road maintenance and construction is a critical part for any operation within the forest from timbers sales, to recreation. A lot of my time in this discipline is done completing road surveys and using a GPS to map roads. This ensures we have accurate data for future maps, as well as safe roads to travel.
Since things are just starting to green up here in the Mark Twain I haven’t had the opportunity to do much on the Natural Resource Management side of things, however I hope to go out and get my hands dirty doing some plant inventory and invasive removal in the near future. I have also found the archeology side of things to be really interesting, especially with my Native American background. With any luck I will be out digging and clearing sites on the Archeology side of the forest in the upcoming weeks. So I leave you with an image I took of a site that represents a deep sense of place for me here in the Mark Twain Nation Forest.