Public land, while may not be abundant in my home state of Georgia, is plentiful in the western parts of the United States. I have never had a chance to travel west of the Mississippi to see these lands until the summer of 2016. That summer, I had first position within the U.S. Forest Service as a forestry technician on the Ashley National Forest. Stationed in Dutch John, Utah, I was feet on the ground for the recreation department. Different duties included compliance and acting as a river ranger on the Green River. I then worked this past summer on a timber crew in the Medicine Bow National Forest. Working out of Saratoga, Wyoming, duties included timber marking, cruising for sales, forest health surveys, and beetle kill tree removal. This position was more on the path of my degree, which is forestry. Although very different from my first seasonal job within the agency, I loved every second of last summer. Both of my past seasonal jobs made a huge impact on my life and, eventually, led to a career within the agency that I will follow as I go on to graduate this next fall.
I learned a lot from my last two summers within the agency. The most important life lesson I gained is to learn be comfortable with the uncomfortable. For me, it was travelling 1700 miles across the country to work with people that I have only exchanged a few phone calls and emails with. My first summer on the Ashley, I had no idea what to expect. I went in with certain expectations and they were all shattered within the first week. My colleagues were from all different corners of the country and I was working in a place that looked like it belonged on a different planet. Fast forward three months later, I was a changed man. Through that summer, I gained lifelong friendships with my colleagues, dozens of new skills, and a career path that I will be following for years to come. This personal growth I experienced throughout this position took place because I chose to become comfortable with the uncomfortable. Difficult as it was at times, I continued to strive on. I challenge others to do the same. Whether it is working across the United States or in your own backyard, I encourage you to become comfortable with the uncomfortable. You will not regret it.