Search and Rescue: A Call to Community Service
My name is Nathan Smithgall, and I served at the Western Colorado Conservation Corps(WCCC) in 2013.
During my time at the WCCC, I became very familiar with the trails and backcountry areas in western Colorado. After finishing my term with the WCCC, an opportunity presented itself to join Mesa County Search and Rescue (SAR) as a grounds team member. My position with the grounds team involves searching for lost or injured people, helping the community and serving the people of Mesa County.
Pictured above: Nathan Smithgall (Photo 1: Dolores River Restoration Partnership, Bedrock, CO, Bureau of Reclamation/Bureau of Land Management; Photo 2: Lands End Fire Fuels Mitigation, Whitewater, CO, United States Forest Service; Photo 3: Rappelling with Mesa County Search and Rescue; Photo 4: MC-SAR)
The WCCC helped educate me about the Grand Valley and much of Mesa County. I just want to give a huge THANKS to everyone at the WCCC!
I grew up in the front range of Colorado (Brighton, Lochbuie), attended Weld Central High School, and graduated in 2009. I attended Collbran Job Corps from July of '10 to July of '12 with trade completions in Building Maintenance and Cement Masonry and many leadership positions. After my time at Job Corps, I was searching for a foundation to make something out of myself, and I found the Western Colorado Conservation Corps. I spent 9 great months building/maintaining trails, fence work and running a chainsaw.
During my time at the WCCC, one of my favorite projects was working on the Colorado National Monument, building fences and maintaining trails. Getting to know the Monument and working there gave me a good idea of the landscape and the trails. Plus, working with the WCCC also gave me a good idea of what the terrain aspect of the Grand Valley had to offer, which plays a huge factor in situational awareness on the Mesa County Search and Rescue (SAR) team.
The one thing that reminds me of the Corps when I'm doing SAR—during training and on actual missions—is the amount of team work you do. At the Corps, when your team or crew gets work assignments, you do the best you can and put in hard work and get the job done plus everyone plays a role in doing something good or getting something accomplished.......and you are serving the community/environment! Search and Rescue is the same thing—the only difference is that we volunteer our time to help those in need.