By: Caroline Fazzio
If I had to draw lines between all the places I’ve been in the last year, the map might look like something from a conspiracy theory. Lines would connect southern Wisconsin with the Minnesota-Canadian border, northern Minnesota with the Twin Cities, northwest Minnesota with southeast Florida, and more lines that I can count within the northern half of Minnesota. After graduating college in May of 2017 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I promptly moved to Minnesota’s northern border to work for Conservation Corps MN and IA (CCMI) as part of their Apprentice Academy program. Three months later found me heading to Brainerd, MN to work for one of CCMI’s field crews. I spent three weeks with the Crow Wing field crew before heading to Florida with a cohort of Northwest, Central, and Southern crew members to help with disaster recovery after Hurricane Irma. When I came back, I worked with a Crow Wing-Fergus Falls hybrid crew for two weeks, a Bemidji-Fergus Falls-Crow Wing hybrid crew for one week, and a Brainerd crew for three weeks.
So what is a recent grad who’s packed enough suitcases in the past seven months to qualify as an amateur mover doing hanging around the Minnesota DNR for a year? Well, that is the golden question.
Hello, my name is Caroline, and I am a new member of the Corps’ Individual Placement program acting as the Aquatic Invasive Species Specialist for the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) based out of St Paul, MN. I join 19 other individual placements (IPs) scattered across the state. I’ve got a few months of Corps experience under my belt, but that doesn’t make this job familiar turf. As a Corps Apprentice, I worked in an office of four people, now I’m working in an office of 400 people. As a field crew member, I worked outside all day, now I work mainly in a cubicle pod. I used to spend my workdays cutting down trees, treating invasive buckthorn, and talking with curious residents, now I spend days organizing data, sitting on conference calls, and previewing invasive species regulations.
Sound dull? Perhaps. But it’s just week two.
I have a whole year ahead full of field work, invasive species inspections, conferences, and projects that are just waiting for someone to grab them and take off running. A lot can happen in a year, and if my experience with the Corps has taught me anything, it’s that you never know what to expect when serving under that little CCMI sapling. I’m excited for that journey, excited for the adventures to come, and excited to share my experience. I invite you to come along for the ride, who knows where the road will take us.