National Forest relies on seasonal workforce for field season
By Marco Andrade
Summers in Vermont are short and demanding, and the Green Mountain National Forest needs a summer workforce ready to help maintain recreation sites, protect and monitor wilderness areas and help forest visitors. To fill the need many young students, who would like to gain experience working in the great outdoors, pitch-in for the summer season.
All of the summer seasonal employees working with the Green Mountain National Forest contribute in difference ways, focusing on specific aspects of the overall goal of the Forest Service. With several offices, plenty of forest visitors, and supervisors to show them the ropes, these individuals are set and ready to begin their hard work.
Mary Beth Dewey is an intern with the Green Mountain National Forest who works on soil and water research, playing a big role in the forest’s Ecosystem Monitoring effort. Born in Arizona and raised in Illinois, and she spent a lot of time in Connecticut before coming to Vermont. She currently attends Green Mountain College and is a Natural Resources Management major. Mary Beth hopes to continue gaining practical experience, such as classifying wetlands and using Forest Inventory and Analysis Protocols, to evaluate ecosystems by working directly with many scientists and resource managers.
“My experiences in the National Forest as a volunteer over the past year, and as an employee this spring, have helped me to gain both confidence in critically evaluating ecosystems and human-ecosystem interactions and humility as I realize that group problem-solving skills and open-mindedness are just as crucial to success as knowledge and experience,” said Mary Beth.
Mary Beth’s contributions to keep the forest healthy make it possible for other summer employees, like Andrew McFarlin, to maintain the forest’s recreation trails and campgrounds. Andrew is a native to Vermont, born and raised in Rochester. Majoring in Biology, Andrew is a student at the University of Vermont in Burlington, and he plans on going to law school after he obtains his undergraduate degree. He works in the north half of the Green Mountain National Forest, out of Rochester cleaning and maintaining campgrounds, mending trails, and repairing trail structures. Spending many days out in the field, Andrew keeps the condition of the forest’s recreation sites in working order for for hikers and campers to enjoy.
“It's good physical work, and is satisfying to really accomplish something,” said Andrew.
Limor Finkel is also keeping trails in top condition as a Wilderness Ranger. She attends Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, and is interning with the National Forest through the Student Conservation Association. She is working the first half of the summer out of the Middlebury office before moving on to Manchester for the second half. She inventories campsites, records damages, and helps relay information on the conditions of sites for future improvements.
Limor monitors trails; hiking through the wilderness and checking for any blow-downs, illegal cutting and non-native invasive species.
“Another big area of my job revolves around visitor contacts. When we encounter hikers along the trail or at trailheads, we ask them if they are aware of Leave No Trace principles and provide education on using this in the wilderness. We also make sure they are prepared to enter a wilderness area, find out how long they will be hiking, and answer any questions they might have,” Limor adds.
Leave No Trace principles promote keeping wilderness clean and free of garbage, encouraging hikers to carry out everything they bring into the forest, leaving no material evidence of their presence in the area.
Limor, Andrew, and Mary Beth are just a few of the hard-working seasonal employees in the Green Mountain National Forest. The Forest hires about 30 summer seasonal employees for recreation maintenance and upkeep, wildlife habitat restoration, scientific monitoring and other areas. The Forest also relies heavily on groups like the Vermont Youth Conservation Corpswho have several crews working throughout the Forest in the summer months. Most are college students, or recent graduates, hoping to earn a little cash and some experience in natural resource management.
Marco Andrade, a student at Miami Dade College, is currently working as a public affairs intern for the Forest this summer.