Pathways Positions with the U.S. Forest Service

If you are interested in working for the Forest Service, enjoy field-work, and desire job 179905EE-642B-4B5D-BEAA-9D54F73273FF-9B2C56AD-9A00-4710-864C-14013D65E8A7 (1)security, this blog post is for you. About a year ago, I was finishing up a seasonal job working for the Forest Service when my boss asked me if I would be interested in a career with the Forest Service. I, personally, very much enjoyed the work and was able to push past the bureaucracy of federal employment, so I said yes. My boss told me about this program within federal employment called Pathways. Basically it works like this: you apply into the program, into any department hiring (I chose forestry/silviculture), and if you’re hired, you sign a contract agreeing to work in your granted position until you graduate and then after graduation as well. It basically guarantees you a full-time job after college (as long as you meet the annual requirements for training). This is a great way to get your foot in the door, and enter a job that is meant for recent grads, meaning you’ll be trained, and not just thrown to the wolves. Of course there are stipulations, and I would recommend a second set of eyes to read your contract (might be time to call your dad), but I found that the requirements were reasonable and your supervisor will help you and have a training plan ready. 

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I just finished up working my first summer in this position as a Silviculture Forester this past summer in John Day, Oregon on the Malheur National Forest. This job was awesome. The majority of my responsibilities included field work, meaning I was paid to hike around a national forest all day! There are office components as well (you’ll never escape GIS) but they help you build the foundation necessary to be successful in your field. I am already anxiously awaiting my return to Oregon after graduation. I am fortunate to have obtained this position and to have a job in crazy COVID times like these. I would highly recommend the Pathways Program (through USAJobs) to anyone interested in similar work and having similar career aspirations. If you have any questions about this process (it can be a little convoluted) don’t hesitate to reach out to me! My email is wade43@purdue.edu. (And my forest is hiring!) Good luck out there guys, hope to see you in the field some day. 

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Emma

Graduating During a Pandemic

Graduating College is supposed to be one of the most important milestones of your life. 2020-05-02_05-00-45_000There are so many memories created and opportunities awaken. But what if when your year to graduate comes and the whole world shuts down due to a pandemic? I never thought it would happen in my wildest dreams, but here it happened to me.

 

Safe to say this year is like no other and it will always be remembered. Classes have been online since March and as the days count down closer to graduation, I can’t help but feel nothing. There’s no senioritis, sadness, or happiness. It just doesn’t feel real. In a little more than a week my college career will be over, but why doesn’t it feel like it?

 

I have my cap and gown and even my diploma, but it still hasn’t hit me. Maybe it’s because I never got to say goodbye to my friends or people I went to class with, I’ll just never see them again. I’ll never get walk across the stage at Elliott Hall of Music with the Class of 2020 and I’ll never get to experience a real senior week.

 

It’s been tough trying to make future plans. Companies aren’t hiring and graduate schools are unsure of what the future looks like. Luckily, I had accepted an internship at Walt Disney World as a backup plan, but even now there is still no certainty that it will still happen.

 

The silver-lining in all of this is realizing that you are not alone in this struggle. Graduates all across the world are in the same situation as you. Companies and schools know what we have been through. The Purdue faculty and staff and Alumni Association have done a great job at still trying to make this graduation special.

 

Even though I won’t be ending this year with a traditional fountain run I am still ever grateful for my time here at Purdue. I know that my education and experiences here will take me to great places. Plus, now when I come back to visit everything will be a little more special to me.

 

Boiler Up and Hammer Down Forever

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-Ashley

#BLM

When I sat down to write a blog post, I initially was going to write about my summer internship. However, considering everything going on, from the protests to the expulsion of Maxwell Lawrence, I felt it would be more beneficial to current and prospective students to address racism at Purdue. This is an issue that a lot of us, myself included, can afford to pretend doesn’t exist. It wasn’t until I read through the Instagram account @blackatpurdue that I truly grasped how big of an issue this is. The sheer number of these instances of racism is staggering. Less than a week after the account began, it had nearly 150 stories directly from students about their racist experiences at Purdue. I hope that as more people begin to acknowledge how prevalent this issue is at our institution, we will begin to work more towards change, equality, and justice.

So, what can we do? First, educate yourself! Find books, movies, podcasts, etc. and begin to learn about persons’ of color experience.  If you struggle with this topic, this can help you understand why we need change. A good place to get started is this document of compiled resources that one Purdue student put together! https://docs.google.com/document/d/19r0VEkEDD-sdTkQ7BIx3LoO7LbWpayq_l7RhY2aBY8M/edit?usp=sharing

You can also start a conversation. It is not POC’s job to educate you, but you can ask if they would be willing to share their experiences, so you have a better understanding.

Next, educate those around you. This can be an intimidating thing, but it is an issue that we cannot be afraid to address. Repost those cool insta graphics, but also tell your grandpa why the joke he just made is racist. Spread information on any platform you have and keep the momentum up!

Finally, hold those around you accountable. If you hear your friends say the n word, hard r or not, singing or stated, then call them out on it! If your professor makes an unfair assumption or racist comment towards a student, defend the student! Put pressure on Purdue to hold students accountable as well. After all, racist students go on to become racist doctors, racist lawyers, racist programmers, etc.

Now more than ever it is important for students to work together and stand up for what is right using whatever platform they have. The expulsion of a student actively demonstrating the exact things a Boilermaker should not stand for shows just how powerful students’ voices are.

*It is also important to note that this issue directly affects our field in instances of environmental racism. If you are unsure of where to start with educating yourself, this could be a good place. A few examples include Flint, Isle de Jean Charles, and Cancer Alley. Reach out to me if you want more resources or have questions!

-Taylor

**Edit from the NRES Co-Directors, Dr. Bowling and Dr. Prokopy: You can also learn more about these issues in our 1 credit class (NRES 498) this fall entitled: “Environmental Justice, Structural Racism and COVID-19”.

Long-term Study Abroad

One of the fondest memories I have of being a Purdue student so far is not on Purdue campus, but on the other side of the world for nearly 7 months in Denmark during my sophomore year. It is difficult to describe fairly and thoroughly how rewarding it was for me to study abroad for a semester. I immersed myself in research at the University of Copenhagen and took classes as part of my concentration in Emerging Challenges: Environmental Microbiology. I enjoyed being a part of Sustainable City, a student group from Studenterhuset and made long lasting friends with people from around the globe. My favorite thing about Denmark was the biking culture and the ease and power a bike gave me in Copenhagen. I could go anywhere I wanted to and felt safe doing so. I was able to visit the historic Christianhavn and track down the hidden wooden giants made from re-purposed wood! Biking allowed me to take my time and drink in the beautiful sights of Copenhagen’s architecture. download (3)

 

I was very inspired by their environmentally conscious way of living and the innovations they came up with to address pollution, food waste, the recycling industry, transportation, climate change, etc. I stumbled upon the Repair Cafe one day as I was biking to the lab and found out that a cafe hosted a repair shop once a month for free. The Repair Cafe is volunteer run and free for anyone to use to repair their broken things or ask a volunteer to fix something for them, be that clothing, electronics, or even toys! I happened to have three pants with holes in them and was able to get them fixed the next time I saw them. Being a study abroad student, I did not have ample sewing resources to do so. The people in the Repair Cafe were also working with their government and the EU to pass laws that would force companies to make their products reparable, rather than disposable, to curb waste. How wonderful it would be if we could do that in the throwaway culture in the United States!

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Los Market, a zero waste grocery store, and WeFood, a reduced waste grocery store, were also some of my places to visit as well. Los Market was made on the principle that food should be bought without disposable packaging to curb waste. WeFood was a volunteer run grocery store selling food that were past the sell by date but in good condition to be consumed. I absolutely loved biking to both places, bringing my jars and containers to Los Market to buy grains, vegan gummy bears, beans, flour, olive oil, mushrooms, salt, vegetables, all without disposable packaging! At WeFood I enjoyed buying cheap bread with the knowledge that I was preventing it from going to waste and that the money was going to countries struggling with famine, such as South Sudan and Ethiopia.

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Europe’s amazing rail system allowed me to travel to Sweden and backpack for a week in their woods on a shoestring budget. I was also able to visit Micropia, one of my favorite museums in the world located in Amsterdam, and taste delicious chocolate in Belgium. In each country I visited I sought for new information and experiences, making connections with people and learning about their background and view points. The views, the cultures, the environments, and the people all deeply enriched my worldview and the experience is something that I’ll hold dearly. In some ways I wish I went for an entire year instead of only a semester to continue to learn from the Danish’s hygge (cozy in Danish) way of living. They’re statistically one of the happiest people in the world living a minimalist lifestyle centered on building friendships and community, so they are definitely doing something right.

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My suggestion to Purdue students is to not be afraid to take a bold giant leap into another culture, learn a new language, build new friendships with people completely different from you, immerse yourself in your studies in another country surrounded by new and wonderful sights. There are many scholarships available to College of Agriculture students to curb the costs of travel and living expenses. In some cases you can even work at the other country. I was given that option in Denmark through my student visa. The preparation may seem daunting at first but once you get there, you may love it so much you won’t want to leave by the end.

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-Silenze

Connection Despite Distance

Jacoby Blog NRES

 

The past couple weeks have brought sudden change to Purdue’s campus. Students just completed their first week of “e-learning” due to COVID-19. For the rest of the semester, I will be accessing my classes 100% online, from my hometown in northern Wisconsin. Though suspending campus-life in the middle of the semester has been a difficult adjustment, the Purdue community has been creating ways to remain strong and connected even while apart.

The most impactful way that I am continuing my engagement with the Purdue community is through my involvement with the Purdue World Water Day Planning Committee, which is led by NRES Director, Dr. Bowling, and ABE professor, Dr. McMillan. During the first half of the semester, we worked on planning a series of events to honor UN World Water Day – a yearly international celebration of freshwater. However, in order to comply with social distancing requirements, we had to come up with an alternative that could administer the same information virtually. Our team’s creative solution was to produce a podcast, titled “Purdue Water and Climate Expert Series”, featuring conversations with Purdue professors who study issues at the intersection of water and climate change.

Over the past two weeks, we have been busy adapting our plan to this new format. I’ve helped produce promotional materials for social media, set up interview logistics, and generated questions to ask the Purdue experts. Yesterday, Grace Filley (undergraduate in ABE) and I spent the day co-moderating conversations with Purdue professors over video calls. This project is turning out to be one of my most unique Purdue experiences, and it has pushed me to step out of my comfort zone and improve my scientific communication skills. Additionally, as a student in NRES with a concentration in Water Quality, these conversations have been invaluable in learning about the complexity of water and climate issues in a wide variety of sectors, such as agriculture, engineering, and social sciences.

It is very inspiring to see the Purdue experts’ dedication to their research and to work on a team that is dedicated to making the most out of an unpredictable situation. We are excited to release our first podcast episode in just a couple days and hope that sharing this knowledge will further conversations about important water issues and help bring the Purdue community together.

-Ally

Cooperative Living

One of the great things about Purdue is the amazing opportunities it is able to offer students. Many are obvious, like the quality of classes/professors, the career center, or the athletics. Others are ones that students sometimes stumble upon or hear about through the grapevine. While every ambassador will gladly tell you about NRES and how much we all enjoy the academic side of Purdue, a key part of what shapes your college career are the other things you become involved in. For me, a major factor has been cooperative living.

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Cooperative houses are a branch of fraternity, sorority, and cooperative living (FSCL). There is a total of 11 houses, 7 women’s and 4 men’s. Cooperatives share a lot of the same values that fraternities and sororities have, like scholarship, philanthropy, and sisterhood/brotherhood. The key difference is that each cooperative house is independently owned and run, so it is unique to Purdue’s campus. We as students (with a little help from an adviser and alumni) run the house and take care of it. This means that there are constant opportunities to hold leadership positions. We also share the responsibilities of cooking and cleaning, which make us the most affordable housing on campus. I pay about $3,200 per year, which includes rent, utilities, food, and all other expenses.

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I heard about coops from some family members who participated when they were students at Purdue. At first, I didn’t really consider going through recruitment because I wasn’t very interested in sororities and figured that it would be the same. My mom pushed me to consider going through recruitment more, mostly because of the financial aspect since I am responsible for putting my self through college. I went through recruitment the January of my senior year and ended up falling in love with the house Ann Tweedale. Getting into AT was actually what helped me make the final decision of where I would go to college.

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Now, I am getting ready to go into my fourth year in the house next year. Some of my favorite things about my house are the friends I have made. I live with 39 other girls and cannot imagine how different my college experience would have been if I hadn’t met them. Additionally, because the cooperative system is fairly small (we make up about 2% of Purdue), the entire community is close-knit. We frequently do things like dinners, philanthropy events, or various social events together. There is never a day on campus where I walk to or from classes without passing someone I know in the coop system.

Another one of the things I appreciate most about coops is the leadership opportunities I have gotten. In Ann Tweedale, I have been able to serve on the executive board as health and safety officer. I have also held various positions like assistant treasurer, philanthropy chair, and served on standards board. I also got to serve on the Purdue Cooperative Council as the Executive Director of Public Relations. All of these positions have helped me gain skills that can be applied to my future career, like budgeting, effective marketing, time management, etc.

Cooperative houses are often referred to as the “hidden gem of Purdue”. I will forever be thankful that I found out about them and was able to join because the experiences I have gained in AT are what truly elevated my college experience. Some of my best advise to any incoming or current student would be to step outside of your comfort zone to become involved. You may stumble upon the organization that helps shape your own personal experience at Purdue.

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-Taylor

Federal Employment

IMG-1539I recently finished up an internship working as a GS-3 Fisheries Technician for the Forest Service in John Day, Oregon. This was my first time working for the government and I definitely noticed a difference between this and my time working for a nonprofit. Unfortunately, most of these lessons were learned the hard way so I’ve outlined three of the biggest differences between working for the government vs private or nonprofit internships to hopefully help others.

 1. The PAPERWORK. My first day on the job I did five hours of paperwork, as well as multiple certifications and two weeks of further training just to work in a government position. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Was it kinda stressful and a pain in the butt? Also yes, so just keep that in mind. Have all your required documents accessible so this process can go smoothly.

2. The hiring process is SLOW. I applied for this position in October, was interviewed in January, offered the position in March, and was not actually hired until May. The background checks and multiple levels of hierarchy that have to approve your paperwork take time so be patient and plan accordingly.

3. There is a lot of hierarchy in working for the government obviously, but even when you’re working on a national forest. All I have to say about this one is to be ready to do a lot of teamwork with different departments and be able to accommodate others in making your daily decisions. It’s difficult and a little stressful but it’s for the best and facilitates your projects. An example would be my stream survey crew working with the archaeology crew on restoration projects. If there isn’t good communication between the departments, the project’s progress is slowed, people get confused, and supervisors get angry. Work together to reach your goal!

Federal work has amazing benefits (monetary, networking, experience, insurance, cross training, etc.) but is also difficult and slow so be ready to tackle those barriers and you’ll have great experiences. Regardless of the difficulties, I would recommend federal experience to anyone, especially working for the forest service, just be open to change and new (sometimes stressful) encounters.

-Emma

Environmental Consulting Internship

As our lovely Midwest weather begins to turn from the beautiful early fall days to the wet and cold (and sometimes snowy!) fall days, my mind begins to wander back to the much warmer summer. In doing this, I’m reminded of the internship I was so lucky to have the privilege of working at. Over the summer, I worked at TecServ Environmental, Inc., a small environmental consulting company in my hometown. I got to do a combination of things this summer, including doing research to assist with our projects, go out to our project sites and see how different projects were undertaken, and just do basic office things like making copies or scanning reports.

This job was definitely unlike any other job I’ve worked before. Some days were pretty typical office days that involved just sitting around the office doing work on the computer or scanning and binding a report. I would sometimes research a site we were planning on visiting later that week, or sometimes I would look up environmental laws in other states to help with a project, or I would even find information on when certain certifications would expire to make sure my boss stayed up-to-date on those. Other days, we were out and about visiting project sites. Not many people can say they’ve visited condemned hotels, old factories, and random houses all in the same job.

Environmental consulting is pretty interesting and important to both human and environmental health, but personally, I can’t see myself staying in the field after college. Despite this, I am still grateful for the opportunity I was given and the experience I gained this summer!

-Katey

Study Abroad 101

This past semester, I took a break from Purdue and flew 8,500 miles to study abroad in New Zealand. Studying abroad for an entire semester was a decision I battled with for awhile, but it was one of the best choices I’ve ever made! Now I am a firm believer that everyone should study abroad. Whether it’s for a week, a month, or an entire semester, the memories you’ll make and the information you’ll learn will be something to treasure for the rest of your life. Here are some tips that I learned along the way.

1. Expand your horizon when looking at places to visit.

I originally set my sights on Europe and only looked at universities there. At my first study abroad advising appointment, the advisor misheard me when I said I was considering Austria. She thought I said Australia and proceeded to tell me how great that country and New Zealand were. By the end, I was convinced and expanded my search. That mishap allowed me to find the perfect university and country for me.thumbnail_2019-10-18 12.02.54 1.jpg

2. Act like a freshman.

Go to all of the orientation events, random fairs, new clubs, and whatever else you can find going on on campus. This is a quick and easy way to make friends and get acquainted with where you are going to live. Plus you could end up with free food/stuff and who doesn’t love that?

3. Apply for any and every scholarship and then make a budget.

There are so many scholarships available for kids who are going abroad. However if you don’t apply, you will never have a shot at the free money. Once you have funds lined up, make a budget and then stick to it. This way you don’t accidentally burn through your money too quick and you can enjoy new experiences throughout your entire trip!

4. Try something new every day.

This was one of my favorite tips I got when I left! It can be easy to accidentally slip in to a monotonous routine of day to day life. Going out of your way to try something new every single day can be an easy way to avoid that. This can be something as big as travelling to see a new sight or something as small as trying a new food you found at the store.thumbnail_2019-09-04 08.15.44 1

5. Travel whenever and wherever you can.

You are studying abroad in an entirely new country, and who knows when you will be able to go back! Make sure you see as much of it as possible. I did this with my friends through small trips on the weekend and longer road trips during study breaks. You can also add on extra travel time before or after your semester!

These are just a few quick tips, but there are many more suggestions out there. Be sure to research and reach out to people who went to regions you are interested in. Firsthand knowledge is a great way to learn about the true experience a country offers!thumbnail_2019-08-30 08.20.00 1

-Taylor

Gearing Up for Graduation

As Commencement creeps closer and closer, the list of tasks piles high. However, eit’s also a time to reflect back on my NRES career. Only three and a half years ago I enrolled in a major that sounded like it would be a good fit for me. I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. All I knew was that both “natural resources” and “environmental science” appealed to me. Thankfully, I stumbled into a program that would allow me to assemble my own concentration, become an ambassador, sit on student panels, study abroad, live close to my grandma, and set me up for a broad range of career opportunities.

My time here at the NRES program has allowed me to explore my love and passion for sustainability. I was able to test the waters of all the concentrations and find the perfect fit for myself. The coursework and advising prepared me for internships with The Nature Conservancy, the National Park Service, and the laboratories on campus. I learned along the way that I wanted to pursue my love for these subjects further, so I will be continuing onto graduate school in the fall.

Even though I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go when I started, my time here at Purdue and NRES led me to determine my path. Graduation may seem scary and far away. Perhaps the scariest part is that my cap and gown cost $75 to rent. But really, the journey here prepares you for this time and the steps that are to come. Enjoy your time at Purdue while it’s here and take advantage of every opportunity. In fact, make your own opportunities. NRES was a great choice for me and I can’t wait to continue learning and seeing the program grow.

-Emily