First Impressions

By: Aimee Junget

I have now been a part of Conservation Corps for seven weeks--I can’t believe how it’s flown by! Now, the feeling of hopping in the truck with my crew, firing up the chainsaws in the morning, and snapping on my chaps feels routine. But it wasn’t always that way…

First, a bit of background about myself. I studied accounting and environmental studies in college, with a passion for both business and numbers as well as natural resources and sustainability. Like all college graduates, you have to start somewhere right? I took an accounting office job right out of school and it didn’t take long for me to realize it wasn’t the right fit for me, at least not at the current season I’m at in my life. So I applied to Conservation Corps--knowing it would be way different from my accounting office job life but excited that it was a step into the natural resource field. So here I am, trading in my heels for steel-toed boots and excited to see where my ten-month commitment with Conservation Corps leads me!

Thus far, the last seven weeks have been nothing but a huge learning experience (as I’m sure the rest of my term of service will be). For example, I had never even held a chainsaw until our chainsaw training week. The first time I used one, I was told that I held it out so far from my body, it was as if I was holding a baby with a dirty diaper that I wanted nothing to do with. As the week went on, I became more and more comfortable working with the chainsaw. By the end of the week, I was yelling “Timber!” and felling trees left and right (with the occasional help of wedges and some push poles of course).

A realization I had came while working on a rain garden in Champlin with a non-profit called Metro Blooms. Rain gardens help naturally treat storm water and return it to the earth rather than polluting surface waters. As this was our third day at it, we had fallen into a routine with our shears, shovels, and rakes. As I was coated in dirt and probably had leaves in my hair, a woman walking her dog called, “Hello! Thank you guys for making my neighborhood so beautiful!” I stopped for a second and smiled. Sometimes it’s so easy to put your head down and grind out the work until the day is done but those simple reminders serve to help us remember some of the reasons why we do what we do. Not a bad first impression of rain gardens, I would say.

It’s only been a month and half with the Corps, but what I’ve learned thus far is that you must be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Because whether you’re operating power tools or planting flowers, you will always be learning new things. And you must always stop and appreciate the little things that make this work special. That being said, I’m looking forward to seeing what adventures lie ahead for me! Thanks for the read!