Author: Michaela Aney
As I collected information from our former Excelsior Conservation Corps (ECC) alumni, I saw a trend of people changing jobs at least two or three times within a two year span. When I spoke with other millennials I discovered a similar pattern: We were all quickly switching jobs because we were either climbing the ladder, looking for a change in scenery, a position had ended, or some combination of all three.
When Hannah Doherty (a Year One ECC member) sent me her story, it encapsulated a feeling many people our age have, whether they’re in the conservation world or not. It’s a feeling of trying to find something that makes us happy in the present but which will also fulfill us in the long term, and the ability to find that feeling again after a position ends. It’s a feeling of wanting to continue the uphill climb to succeed in our careers, while satisfying our desire to travel and explore the world, and maintain a social life and a connection with family. There are many facets to this feeling.
Here is Hannah’s journey post ECC and how she is doing what makes her happy while exploring all of her options:
After exiting the ECC, I was in a sort of limbo. I had applied to grad school at SUNY ESF (State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry) and had not yet heard if I had gotten it and I didn’t have a job lined up. On top of all that, I had committed to living in apartment in Syracuse without anything a job or school definitively. I felt lost, and I also felt like I was reemerging as a real human from the very different culture and life that is the ECC. I ended up getting into grad school for a Masters in Professional Studies in Applied Ecology.
As the end of my first semester approached, I did not feel certain about the degree or location or anything else. I also needed to figure out what I was going to do for the summer since I did not have classes to occupy my time. The SCA had been good to me during my two different stints: an internship as a wildlife management intern in St. Louis, MO and as a member of the ECC, so I decided to search there first.
I left Syracuse, NY behind and ended up getting a position in Astoria, OR (on the border of WA and OR, and on the coast) as an Invasive Vegetation Management intern with the SCA and National Park Service (Lewis and Clark National Historical Park to be specific), which is what my crew did in the ECC. It was amazing there, on top of working in a beautiful and amazing place, I got to explore a whole different part of the country and saw the parts in between on the road trip out. My job involved walking through the woods, searching for invasive plants, treating or pulling invasive plants and mapping invasive plants. While living out in Oregon, loving the work I was doing, I decided that I would hold off on going back to grad school and continue working the seasonal life.
After working in Oregon, I got a job back in New York, in my hometown working at a preserve as an invasive species technician. It was nice to be home but still had the adventure bug and wanted a job that was somewhere new. So after I completed my job in New York, I decided to take a job in the Florida Everglades as an Exotic Vegetation Management intern working on the park-wide exotic plant management program and with a wetland restoration project. And that is where I am at now - two months in. It’s been a roller coaster but an exciting one! What’s up next? We’ll see in a few months!