May 10, 2015 was supposed to be the day I walked across a stage in a cap and gown with my classmates to celebrate ourselves and our hard work over the last four years.
Instead, it was the day I moved to the Challis-National Forest to start an internship. Rather than acknowledge accomplishments of the past, I decided to embrace the experiences of the future by skipping my college graduation so that I could serve in the SCA Idaho AmeriCorps program. During my five-month AmeriCorps term, I experienced more time outside than I had in all four years of my undergrad combined. After spending years studying various environmental issues, I was finally able to get my hands dirty and make a difference myself!
With SCA, I learned how to cut hand line in preparation for prescription fires, build fences to protect aspen from hungry cattle, and repair and maintain recreational trails. My longest project was working with a fisheries department where I learned how to monitor, research, and supplement Chinook and steelhead populations. At the time, the project was just an exciting line of work where I had the opportunity to be a part of something important and work outside every day. Now, thanks to that experience, I am a permanent fisheries biologist with the very partner organization I was a volunteer for during my SCA internship. If it were not for my SCA service with Idaho AmeriCorps, my life would be totally different today.
Finding a job in natural resources is tough. I am grateful to SCA and AmeriCorps for providing an all-expenses paid opportunity to gain new skills, receive nationally accepted trainings and certifications, and have the opportunity to work for and network with other agencies. Had it not been for SCA, I would probably be bouncing around from seasonal job to seasonal job, looking for permanency, and questioning my career choices. However, thanks to SCA and the skills I gained during my internship, I have a fulfilling, stable, career. To top it off, I also met the love of my life during my internship and am now happily engaged to my former SCA coworker who also found a job working with our fisheries partner! It’s a dream come true. Thank you SCA and AmeriCorps for dramatically changing my life for the better.