I am a sophomore at Colorado State University pursuing a Watershed Science Degree. I enjoy being outside, going whitewater kayaking, hiking, camping, and climbing. I started work with the Western Colorado Conservation Corps when I was 17 years old; I worked as a crew member for the Corps during the summer of 2015. I am a very outdoors orientated individual and really wanted to spend my summer outside. When I applied for the crew member position the service description sounded like it would suit me well and it did just that. Being only 17, working and living with others who were mostly above the age of 20, really helped me mature and prepare for college. This service opportunity helped me gain experience in leadership, communication, work ethic, and in general most everything that is important in a work and social environment.
During my service with the Western Colorado Conservation Corps I worked with many agencies, including the BLM, the U.S. Forest Service, Colorado State Parks and Wildlife, National Park Service, and many others. When I worked with these agencies, I took the opportunity to ask the employees about their job descriptions, past experiences, how they got to where they were, and how I could get on the right path to what I wanted to do.
"Being only 17, working and living with others who were mostly above the age of 20, really helped me mature and prepare for college."
As a student pursuing a degree in Watershed Science, one particular project caught my attention. This was a climate change project, building rock structures to restore habitats for the Gunnison Sage Grouse. During this project, we worked mainly with the BLM and specifically with the hydrologist Andrew Breibart. I took this chance to talk with Andrew and get as much information as possible. When I finished my service term, I had gotten Andrew’s business card--which I tried to do with every project manager. I kept in touch with Andrew throughout the fall of 2015 because I was still interested in these types of projects. When 2016 came, I started looking for summer employment and I thought it would be an amazing opportunity to work on similar projects based around water. From previously working with the Corps, I knew they offered internships at agencies like the BLM. I continued to check back at the Western Colorado Conservation Corps website (www.wcccpartners.org) looking for opportunities until I came upon a watershed technician internship in Gunnison. Since I had been talking with Andrew, I proceeded to email him about the internship.
"This service opportunity helped me gain experience in leadership, communication, work ethic, and in general most everything that is important in a work and social environment."
I then heard back in May that I was given the position. This summer (2016), I gained a lot of experience in measuring water flow and quality, recording data properly, and inventorying specific data. I couldn’t imagine spending my summer any other way; I spend 10 hours outside a day and enjoy the people and the work I am involved with. Without the start of the Western Colorado Conservation Corps, this opportunity would never have presented itself to me. I am very grateful to the Corps and the staff that makes things like this happen. I encourage others to get involved with a trail crew because it did amazing things for me and to always capitalize on opportunities like I did by talking to project managers because no one ever knows where conversations can lead.