Hello! This is CJ – a MHYC alumni (2015-2016)!
I’ve never wrote a blog post before, so here it goes…I currently have a super exciting, rewarding job as a Park Ranger at Roxborough State Park. I can confidently say that my experience at Mile High Youth Corps has led me to this point, and I am so grateful for my time there. I began my journey at MHYC when I was 23 years old, a little more than a year out of college. The previous year had been incredibly dreadful, hopeless and disappointing as I found myself unable to find a job that I thought I deserved. I mean, it can’t be that hard to find a job (in your field) when you are fresh out of college, right? Nah…It was pretty stinkin’ difficult. After a while, I learned that I was not alone in this struggle.
I applied for the AmeriCorps Leadership and Conservation (ACLC) program at MHYC for the year of 2015 thinking that it sounded up my alley. Honestly, at the time I was not super aware of what AmeriCorps was and what it meant to be an AmeriCorps member. The 10 ½ month long program taught me so much about myself and my community. I remember being excited to feel passionate about something again – a feeling that I hadn’t felt in a while and a feeling that has stayed with me since. My experience as an ACLC connected me to my community in a way that I had never felt before and it gave me friends I will never forget! Not to mention all of the skills I learned…how to retrofit low income homes for energy and water efficiency, trail building and how to use a chainsaw are just a few.
After the ACLC term, I was hired back as the Alumni Mentor: Conservation for another 1700 hour commitment. During this year I had the opportunity to serve as a crew leader for two consecutive chainsaw crews. It was so incredibly fun and my crews were AWESOME. This was a huge chance for growth for me…being a crew leader helped me identify my leadership strengths and weaknesses. I had so much fun in this role; I definitely got to connect with some ACLCs and Summer of Service Corpsmembers in a way that would not have been possible if I wasn’t their crew leader. The best part about it, in my opinion, is seeing where they are all at now…most of them with exciting jobs, some of them still in school, but all of them in a better spot than before their time at MHYC. It’s pretty dang inspiring and makes me happy!
Anywho, so my job at Roxborough as a Park Ranger… like I said before and I’ll say it again, there’s absolutely no way that I could have gotten this job if it weren’t for my experience at MHYC. People ask me what I do here and I usually say it’s about half managing the people who come into the park (make sure their safe and happy) and half managing the park itself (trail work, taking care of equipment, etc). Just about all of the park maintenance, I have experience doing because of MHYC. There are only 3 rangers here, and I have the most trail experience out of all of them. That’s one of the reasons why I was hired! I’m the trail lady. I spend my days patrolling the trails-which really means taking equipment with me and working on problem spots or doing corridor clearing. Occasionally people break the rules and you have to write them tickets, but I like to view it as an educational opportunity. I love explaining to people Leave No Trace practices (a training I went through at MHYC) and about the ecological diversity of the area. I like helping them realize the impact their actions make so that they continue about their day with a stronger sense of awareness. A lot of the park visitors are really smart, and I often learn things from them as well!
This August, Roxborough is having a MHYC crew come for a week to help construct a new trail and I will be working closely with them. I can’t wait! (Just had to throw that in here somewhere)
Every day I learn a little bit more about myself, just like I did at MHYC. I don’t think that will ever change either. It is really intimidating being in your low-twenties and trying to figure out who the heck you are, what the heck you want to do with your life and how the heck you’re going to get there. I think the best advice I could give you would be to just keep making one good decision at a time. Don’t get bogged down with all the details, keep taking things one step at a time. It is in those day to day decisions that you will grow.
So, thank you MHYC and my MHYC family for helping shape who I am today. A person I’m proud of! A person an employer can count on. A woman who is more aware, confident and empowered!! Overall just a straight up better person, than who I was before. It’s great!