Vital Lessons in Acceptance at MCC By Field Team Member Emily LeGrand

Participating in a conservation corps program like the Maine Conservation Corps (MCC) would be an important, transformative experience for young people at any time in history, but it is particularly impactful right now, at this particular point in history for both the young people who participate and for our communities, because of the ways it demands coming to know the complexity, contradictions and beauty within people different from yourself.

In case you aren’t familiar with how the MCC works, teams of 6 or 7 people, ages 18 and up, from all over the United States are formed in late May, or in late August. They live and work together in the woods of Maine for five or nine days at a time for 3 months. This is an intense environment for sure! We are working from 7 am to 4:30 pm, with 15 minute breaks at 10 and 2 and 30 minutes for lunch. Then, depending on whether you are on a front country or back country hitch, there can be a long list of chores to do at camp, from cooking, sorting and storing food properly, setting up bear hangs, collecting firewood, building a fire, collecting, treating and carrying water, cleaning up, digging sump holes and latrines, and doing dishes. By the time all that is done, you and your team are free to swim, play cards, tell silly stories by the fire, read, explore the area around your camp, or just wind down in your tent and sleep, a lot. This set-up requires that everyone participate in getting all these things done. It means that people are often tired. In the beginning, depending upon everyone’s starting points with social settings, camping, manual work, work in general, and so on, people are in various stages of transition while they get used to life at MCC. And transitions are generally stressful. This creates an environment where people are being perhaps their truest, rawest selves. It’s hard to hide or put up a front when you’re stressed, tired or with the same people 24/7.

I was on a crew that focused on rock work. I think rock work in particular reveals a lot about who someone is and how they function. It can be slow, frustrating, difficult and creative work. It can also be really fun! But when you’re trying to set a rock into thick, wet muck, and you can’t see the bottom of your hole to know what’s in the way of the rock finally settling in properly, or when you discover there’s another giant rock in your way, and getting it out would require two more people, two more tools located a half a mile away, and ripping up the work you’ve already done, you learn about people. You get to know who’s calm and positive, who’s got wacky ideas, who’s edge of frustration is just below the surface, who’s a collaborator, who’s persistent and who’s willing to get really muddy. We might not even know these things about ourselves until we find ourselves navigating these tricky situations.

And it’s this environment where authenticity emerges which is so powerful and important, on both a personal level, and in our society. Everyone’s truest selves, their strengths, weaknesses, quirks and complexities are slowly revealed for all to see. It’s not often in our modern lives where we have a chance to glimpse a stranger so fully. So many situations give us just a slice of someone- in a classroom, in a board meeting, on the school bus, at a café, in the office, as a housemate, on a sports team, on the street. We might know our close friends, or partners intimately because they share their thoughts, hopes and secrets with us. But even then we might not know much about them in terms of how they function in such a demanding and people-neutral environment. MCC and other similar programs provide a way to come to know a complete stranger, one who might be quite different from you, on a fairly intimate level, even if you do not actually become close friends with that person. And then, you must take these strangers on board, and learn to live, work, accept and maybe even love them because there is no other option.

In contrast, in modern life, we have so many opportunities to do the exact opposite. We can and do sort through and discard people from our lives in favour of someone else who is funnier or less intense or who has more in common with ourselves. When we are meeting people and choosing who to become close to, who to follow up with, who to hang out with again, we are in a way sorting and discarding people. At the very least, we are judging them. To be fair to all of us, because we all do this, we must do this. There are simply so many people in the world, and most of us live in urban areas where there are many people flowing through our daily lives. In order to cope, we must sort people and judge people based on our visual knowledge or a few interactions.

But there are deep lessons to be learned and carried on from the intimate knowing and being known by strangers that MCC offers. We can learn to lean in and try new ways of interacting with someone we would have simply backed away from before, and thus discover new parts of ourselves. We have to.  If we are working with that person all day, and we are arguing with them about how to do something and it’s only 9am, continuing to stay engaged and trying to figure it out is the only option available. Or we might be surprised to see a stereotype defied in a person on our team. The most cautious, careful and safety-aware person on my team was the 18 year old guy, for example. Or, the person with the most exuberant, child-like energy was also very thoughtful, self-sufficient and wise. We might see that the thing that we find most annoying about someone is the same trait which causes that person the most challenge and suffering, and so we can learn to have compassion for them instead of (or at least alongside of) feeling simple annoyance. We might get into an interesting debate with our team and learn that a person can have one trait, experience or opinion, and then out of nowhere bring up a completely contradictory opinion in the debate. And it forces us to just allow that to be true in them, and to confront the fact that human beings don’t make sense. We are all contradictory and complicated and surprising. And that’s also what makes each person beautiful. MCC gives us a lived experience in knowing that one thing about a person predicts very little else about that person. We simply have to sit and wait to see what they show us or tell us next to continue learning about them.

I think if each of us who has had this experience can carry it into the world beyond MCC where we can and do sort and judge people, perhaps we can do our sorting and judging more gently and openly. We can bring our knowledge that a person’s skin color, socio-economic class, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or clothing choices predict very little about whether we might find connection, fun, understanding or appreciation in that person. So we might stay open to them longer. Or it might be just a new way of appreciating a random stranger on the bus. We might think “well if each stranger I had the opportunity to get to know well turned out to be pretty complex with many wonderful qualities, I bet it’s probably true for this seemingly grumpy old man sitting next to me on this bus too.” This simple thought process of staying open to the possibilities and contradictions within each person is actually a very tough process, but I think is the key to confronting much of the social and political divisiveness in our country and the world.

To close, I’ll share one of these moments with my crew when true generosity and integrity was revealed. One night, our team leader was putting her backpack into the trailer before bed, and a baby red squirrel happened to jump onto her pack just as she was placing it into the trailer. When I came by to put my last things in the trailer, she’d been working on getting the baby squirrel out for at least a half an hour. Then it was the two of us, working on this conundrum for at least another half an hour. We were getting tired and frustrated. I was convinced we had traumatized the little squirrel, who was sitting with a creepy, frozen stare in the tiny space between the trailer wall and the wooden tool box and that his heart might even have stopped. I decided the only way we were going to know for sure that he was out of the trailer and that we really could go to bed without worrying about the squirrel dying in there or eating all our food was to completely empty the trailer and watch him leave. But since we had been at it for over an hour at that point and emptying the trailer is a lot of work, and it was the whole team’s trailer and food at risk, I suggested we go see who was awake and willing to help us. So we went down to the tent area and explained the situation and a usual suspect kindly came to help us. Yay! Thank you! And then a couple minutes later, we saw the two other guys trudging up the hill toward the trailer. They had both been literally half asleep and had somehow, with great willpower and integrity, finished waking up, decided they should really help out and got out of their cozy tents to offer their help or at least moral support. Wow! Amazing people. It would have been so easy to just stay asleep, and that would have been totally fine and acceptable. Turned out that it was really quick to empty the trailer with five people and our dear squirrel, which we named Left Turn Larry, left the trailer in a matter of minutes, and we all went to bed with peace of mind.

IMG_3422About Emily LeGrand

Emily is a mostly serious person who loves being pulled into silliness and joyful spontaneity. She also loves being outside, getting to know people well, and thinks an MCC-like experience should be available to any and all young people who want it.

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Job Board Resources

Below are some job board resources to help you find your next career adventure!

More information on job opportunities with the Maine Conservation Corps can be found on our website. Consider joining MCC as a Field Team Member or an Environmental Steward! Also considering volunteering with MCC to gain new skills and build a strong resume!

Maine Specific Job Boards

  • Maine Land Trust Network Job Board
    • Listed are current positions available at land trusts and associated entities.
  • State of Maine Natural Resources Job Postings
    • Listed are Direct Hire Job – Vacancy Postings in the following agencies: Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry, Environmental Protection, Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, Marine Resources and Natural Resources Service Center.
  • Nonprofits Job Board
    • Maine Association of Nonprofits hosts the only job board in Maine exclusively for nonprofit and philanthropic employment opportunities.
  • Maine Municipal Association Job Board
    • Job Postings for municipal governments in Maine.
  • Cool Works – Maine Jobs
    • Jobs opening within the State of Maine.
  • Jobs In Maine
    • Connecting job seekers and employers in Maine since 1999
  • My Maine Job
    • Search hundreds of jobs, build your unique profile, and let companies find you!
  • Live and Work in Maine
    • Live and Work in Maine is a private-sector initiative designed to increase awareness about the great career opportunities that exist in Maine, and promote the world-class quality of life Mainers enjoy.

Conservation and Environmental Specific Job Boards

Additional Job Boards

  • USAJobs and Pathways
    • Federal jobs such as the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, Fish & Wildlife Service, Geological Survey, etc.
  • AmeriCorps
    • AmeriCorps isn’t just one program: it’s a family of programs that range from teaching and mentoring children to fighting poverty to wildfire mitigation and just about everything in between. With so many AmeriCorps service opportunities, they are sure there’s something perfect for you. To begin your AmeriCorps adventure, check out their site and get ready for an amazing and fulfilling experience giving back to your neighbors, your community, and your country!
  • The Student Conservation Association
    • SCA’s mission is to build the next generation of conservation leaders and inspire lifelong stewardship of the environment and communities by engaging young people in hands-on service to the land.
  • Conservation Corps Jobs
    • An easy-to-use tool for anyone seeking to gain employment and or are hiring for any type of position at a conservation Corps across the country. From Corps Member positions all the way up to CEO, if you’re looking to get involved with a Corps this is a good place to start!
  • American Conservation Experience
    • An opportunity to Change your Future and Restore our Lands.

Volunteer Opportunities Boards 

  • Volunteer Maine
    • VolunteerMaine.org is a project of the Maine Commission for Community Service. It was launched in 2002 as a means of creating a “one-stop” service for both citizens who want to volunteer and community groups seeking to address local problems through volunteer-powered solutions.
  • Volunteer Match
    • Find a cause that lights you up. Get in touch with a nonprofit that needs you.
  • The Stewardship Network – New England
    • The Stewardship Network: New England is an environmental initiative that empowers generations of outdoor enthusiasts to volunteer for nature, because we know what a community of nature lovers can do to change the world.
  • Volunteer.gov
    • This is a United States Federal Government portal which lists volunteer opportunities on public lands in the United States.

 

Alumni Spotlight: Emily Greene

We love hearing from our Alumni! For this blog post we are putting a spotlight on MCC Alum Emily Greene! From January 2016 to December 2016, Emily was the Environmental Steward at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, US Fish and Wildlife Service. Emily currently works in Biddeford, ME at the University of New England:

“My boss and I have started a project called the Saco Watershed Collaborative.  We are helping over 30 nonprofit, state, federal, and academic organizations create a stewardship network around the Saco River Watershed.  This project encompasses stakeholders from the headwaters in North Conway, New Hampshire to the Saco Estuary in Saco, Maine.”

How did serving with MCC affect your personal and professional growth?

My service with MCC helped me realize that collaboration is a key part of bringing people together to resolve their philosophical, social, political, and environmental differences. 

What is your favorite memory with MCC?

My favorite memory with MCC was understanding how diverse organizations work together to find common values in order to protect Maine’s environment. 

What was your reasoning for joining the MCC?

I joined MCC to gain a better understanding of conservation in Maine so that I can put that knowledge into action in my professional career in environmental conservation.

Why should prospective members join?

Members should join because it is a great opportunity to discover how you can be a part of Maine’s conservation effort.  As an Environmental Steward, you gain a different perspective of conservation because you are in a unique position to observe how different organizations and key stakeholders all play a different but integral role in preserving an environmental-based culture in Maine.

 

Volunteers & Invasives

MCC Environmental Steward Brittany Bivona hosted Invasive Species Workdays and had a few volunteers from the New England Stewardship Network who contributed their time to help pull up oriental bittersweet, buckthorn and burning bush at both parks she is serving at: Fort McClary and Vaughan Woods!

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Brittany stated that parks have an invasive species issue.

            “Fort McClary is just covered with bittersweet especially on the picnic side of the park. This one area that we attacked that was all covered with bittersweet vines and buckthorn; the vines of the bittersweet were wrapped around the buckthorn.”

On August 24, Brittany had three awesome volunteers who she previous knew from the Natural Resource Stewardship Program. She was happy to serve along fellow friends and accomplish some service hours. However, the task of invasive species removal was not easy!

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“We attacked the picnic side of the park to pull up the gigantic bittersweet roots. At this point (I noticed) there was no way of completely eradicating the oriental bittersweet because the root system is too strong and covered underneath the soil. I realized that the bittersweet root doesn’t just grow upwards out of the ground but diagonally across in the soil.”

To mitigate the issue, Brittany alongside the volunteers had to ensure they pulled the entire root by pulling up the root and following it in all directions of its growth. She stresses the importance of removal or the invasive species have the potential to outcompete native species and decrease the park’s biodiversity drastically.

 “If you just allow the invasive species to grow, it will just be a monoculture and oriental bittersweet and buckthorn shows how much it can really take over and outcompete all other trees and plants.”

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On the fort side of the park, where White Ash trees grow through the trails, Brittany had volunteers and herself prune back the bittersweet vines that had been tangled and wrapped around the white ash trees.

At Vaughan Woods the park does not have as big of an invasive species issue and there were not any areas completely covered in invasives.

“(Here) It’s more pulling up individual roots or bittersweet and honeysuckle, so it was much easier before the vines and roots got thicker like it is over at Fort McClary, where it harder to pull up. There was an area of burning bush that is covered, and a couple of years ago there was a group of volunteers that pulled up a lot of the burning bush. Luckily, it was far off the trails but it was still in the park so it’s good to catch it early before it spreads to the trails and outcompetes with other species. Vaughan woods has a tremendous biodiversity value, and we like to preserve that the best we can in the most natural way.”

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Additionally, Brittany mentioned that Vaughan Woods has Hemlock Wholly Adelgrid (HWA), which is an invasive aphid-like insect that feeds on hemlocks.

“A few years ago, there were beetles released in the park that only ate the Adelgrid, and supposedly the population of this invasive insect had declined. There are many hemlock saplings that are clear from the HWA, however the tall hemlock trees we don’t know if they are up there on the needle or not.”

To conclude Brittany states that a consistent group of volunteers is need critical.

“A consistent group of volunteers for invasive species cleanup day is critical to have in regular routine or program throughout the summer to properly manage the erratic growth of these invasive species, it’s especially critical to have volunteers during spring and fall clean ups.”

Trail Crew Diet by Field Team Member Grace Lasota

Performing physical work for nine hours a day takes a lot out of a person. Thankfully, here on the trail crew we can all rely on a hearty meal after work to replenish our bodies and give us energy for the following morning. Here are some of my favorite recipes I’ve adopted this summer season!

*Each meal is portioned to feed six, adjust as necessary

Chili-mac

This is a fantastic meal, jam-packed with everything you could ever want. I learned that it’s good even when cold on an occasion our camping stoves decided to stop working. Compliments go to field team member Nathan Fuller.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans of red chili beans (has chili sauce in it)
  • 2 cans of white chili beans
  • 2 cans of black chili beans
  • 1 large can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 or 2 packets of chili seasoning for extra taste
  • 2 packages of veggie sausage
  • 1 family sized box of Velveeta mac and cheese

Directions:

  1. Boil water and cook noodles, strain, add velveeta cheese
  2. Cut up sausages and throw ‘em in
  3. Add beans, tomatoes, and seasoning
  4. Stir periodically until hot

Cheesy Burritos

One great thing about getting a ridiculous amount of exercise is that you can basically eat whatever you want! I’m know I won’t make this meal often in my everyday life but it was highly requested within my crew and a trail must-have. Compliments go to assistant team leader Joel Kopcial.

Ingredients:

  • Flour tortillas
  • Corn chips
  • 1 jar of salsa (we used verde)
  • 1 large can of refried beans
  • 1 bag of rice
  • 1 32 oz. bag of shredded mexican 4-cheese blend

Directions:

  1. Prepare the rice
  2. Stir in the salsa, refried beans, and cheese
  3. Stir until smooth and hot
  4. Serve in a tortilla or with chips

Portabella Mushroom Burgers

These burgers can wait to be cooked for a few days while in the backcountry, unlike beef. They are an unexpectedly juicy way to complete the day. Compliments to yours truly!

Ingredients:

  • 2 portabella mushrooms per person
  • 2 packages of hamburger buns
  • 1 16oz. bag of cheese
  • 3 peppers of your choice
  • 6 red potatoes
  • Oil

Mushroom directions:

  1. Brown the hamburger buns in a pan and set to the side
  2. Set the portabella face down on it’s stem. You will know when to flip once this side becomes soft and moist
  3. Flip the mushroom on to it’s top and put a handful of cheese into the cooked side
  4. Cover the pan to help with melting. You will know the top side is done when it becomes soft. If juices start to run out of the mushroom, it is definitely done
  5. Serve with a bun

Side directions:

  1. Chop up peppers and potatoes
  2. Put a liberal amount of oil in a pan or pot
  3. Throw the peppers and potatoes in the pot and cook until tender
  4. If you have left over cheese, throw it in there too

 

IMG_0600About Grace Lasota

Grace is a Field Team Member for the Maine Conservation Corps. She is a traveler, environmentalist, and notoriously ungraceful.

Off Hitch Adventures by Field Team Member Grace Lasota

Hitch/on hitch: the period of time spent working on a trail crew, often between five to nine days consecutively

Off hitch: two to five days of unrestricted free time

I find it difficult to explain to my friends and family just how fun being on hitch can be. It’s an honor to be able to spend days at a time outdoors, seeing all the beauty Maine has to offer in its huge forests that are crisscrossed with lakes, streams, waterfalls, dotted with mountains, rock-mazes, cliffs, and absolutely teeming with wildlife. How am I supposed to describe spending 24/7 with a team of people who have become my support system and closest friends? I tell them that working on a project gifts a sense of accomplishment at the end of each day, along with motivation coming back the following day and admiring the progress made. So many memories and inside jokes are made, so you kind of have to be there… 

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Often, when I return to cell-service, the first thing I mention to the people who haven’t heard from me in over a week is what I’ll be doing for the off hitch. As much as I love the work I do, off hitches are a magical time that can bring you places you never expected. If you’re like me, they are usually figured out the day of, texting friends you met in chainsaw training or orientation a variation of “Where are you going this weekend?”.

Over the summer season, I was working in Baxter State Park which housed four MCC teams. We would meet at Taco Tuesday in Millinocket after work, push a bunch of tables together, and catch each other up on the funny/weird/beautiful things we experienced during hitch. The town of Millinocket, just outside of Baxter SP, is a cute little town offering places to brunch, shop, and lodge in order to unwind from a hitch filled with hard physical work. If relaxing isn’t your thing, there are a few places that will take you whitewater rafting or you could climb Mt. Katahdin, the highest peak in Maine, reaching one mile!

I prefer to stray a little farther from the worksite for my off hitches and have visited places all over Maine!

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  • I’ve thrift shopped in Winthrop
  • Ate lunch with some pals in Augusta
  • Explored the college town of Bangor
  • Walked a breakwater, hiked along the bay, and saw two lighthouses in Rockland
  • Swam in Moosehead Lake and camped at Lily Bay State Park
  • Attended the Black Fly Ball (music and arts festival) in Machias
  • Accidentally stumbled upon Fort Knox and toured the fort

Most people on the trail crews are from out of state, which is a great perk when it comes to off hitch plans (and future adventuring destinations). My good friend Keva Pariyar, also an author for this blog, is from Massachusetts and we once road tripped 8 hours to visit her mom, dog, and beloved bunny. It was so nice to have a comfy bed to sleep in and access to television and wifi after living without those luxuries. We also took a day trip to the beaches of Rhode Island where the water was cold and the sand sparkled. I’ve never relaxed more than that day we laid in the sun eating watermelon and chips with hummus.

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My first time traveling to the mid-west was with eight members of MCC to the great state of Indiana. It took 18 hours to get there but the journey flew by as we took turns driving and blasted good music. We were guests in a giant house on a lake and had the best time out on the boat toting four tubes behind us. The nights were spent watching fireworks, as this off hitch landed on the Fourth of July, and solidifying friendships with people I never would have known if I had not joined MCC. I can’t wait to see the adventures I’ll find myself on this fall!

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About Grace Lasota

Grace is a Field Team Member for the Maine Conservation Corps. She is a traveler, environmentalist, and notoriously ungraceful.

Biting the Hand that Feeds by Field Team Member Keva Pariyar

Any amount of time spent outdoors will land even the most prepared with a couple bug bites. The summer brings with it mosquitos, black flies, and all the flies named after mammals with cloven-hooves (deer, horse, and moose). Annoying, painful, and itchy as they are, I would like to think that there is a point to the insects that bite so liberally. Because I am a realist, not an optimist, I decided to research the little buggers in the hope that I would get some answers as to why they bite and the importance of them.

Since most people are bothered by mosquitos and the like, there isn’t much flattering research out there. Most of it focuses on how to control populations without harming other organisms within the ecosystem, but I did scrounge up a few facts. Many people know it is only the females that bite to obtain blood. This blood is used for its protein to help grow and support eggs. I’m not going to go into the detail of how each type of flying annoyance gets to the blood supply, trust me seeing diagrams will not make you feel better about it. Males, on the other hand, sip on nectar rather than humans to get their nutrients. Because of this they do contribute to pollination, so that is one plus.

On top of that, there is always the fall back explanation that I always disliked in school: they are part of a complex ecosystem and food web. As unsatisfactory as that answer is, it’s the truth. Every organism plays its part in the food chain and these bloodsuckers are no different, they are eaten by a variety of bigger (not that being bigger is difficult) predators. As for mosquitos and black flies, the larvae also play a part in the aquatic food webs in the habitat. They eat microorganisms, detritus, and some species eat algae as well (Edwards and Meyer, 1987; Merritt et al. 1992). Fish and birds feed on the larvae, then larger organisms can prey on the fish and birds, and the sun rises and sets, and the earth goes around the sun and everything is all peachy.

Interestingly, one review found that though mosquitos have many functions, there are other organisms that do the same thing could take their place (Fang, 2010). I’d like to think this is true, but no one can really predict what would happen if the entire group of bloodsuckers was removed from their respective ecosystems. Basically, what I found is that no one likes these pests, we just aren’t sure the most effective and safe way to get rid of them. So my best advices is put some bug spray on and get out there and enjoy nature anyways!

Literature Cited

Edwards, R.T., and Meyer, J.L., (1987) Bacteria as a Food Source for Black Fly Larvae in a Blackwater River. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 6, no. 4: 241-250.

Fang, J. (2010). Ecology: a world without mosquitoes. Nature News466(7305), 432-434.

Merritt, R.W., Dadd, R.H., & Walker, E.D. (1992). Feeding behavior, natural food, and nutritional relationships of larval mosquitoes. Annual review of entomology37(1), 349-374.

 

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About Keva Pariyar

Keva is a 2017 Maine Conservation Corps Field Team Member. Massachusetts raised, over caffeinated, hiking and trail enthusiast. Lover of all things bunny or salamander.

 

 

What to Expect during Your First Hitch! By Field Team Member Keva Paryiar

I am a planner, I like to know the when and what of everything I might be doing; I even have three planners. With orientation all wrapped up, I had the basic knowledge of what I was going to be doing, but working on a trail crew is very much a learn on the job kind of experience. Our first team task was meal planning, since everyone takes turns making dinner. We have two vegetarians on MCC 3 which I thought was going to be really difficult for me since I’m basically a carnivore and never grew out of the toddler stage of disliking vegetables. But as the hitch continued it worked out just fine, and it turns out I was hungry enough at the end of the day that I ate all my vegetables without even blinking.

I would be lying if I said my first hitch went off without a hitch (I think I’m funny). The hitch was spent clearing blowdowns in the north part of Baxter State Park; in fact that is what we did for the first 4 hitches. During school, I worked at an accounting office, so the switch from business causal and sitting at a desk to working outside near chainsaws and hiking many miles a day was a big one for sure. Because I was not able to make it to chainsaw training, my job was to pick up all the pieces that one of my certified chainsaw-wielding friends had cut and move it off the trail. Though the concept is easy, it was hard work. One day a group of three of us cleared 101 blowdowns! I know I was sore after my first day, and more so after the second, but it’s amazing how quickly your body adapts to being able work hard every day and by the end of the week I was feeling good. It also feels pretty awesome to be able to pick up trunks of trees bigger than you and drag them into the woods. Not only do you become stronger physically, but mentally as well.

For me, the work was hard, but living and working with the same people constantly was a bigger adjustment. I am an only child, and had the house to myself many afternoons growing up before college where it is easy to get time to yourself. Not so much on hitch. The first couple days were difficult, between being tired from the work and still not knowing team members very well. The beauty of spending so much time together is that you get to know your crew so fast. Not to mention when you have to rely on each other for food, it really brings you together. By the end of the first hitch I couldn’t imagine having anyone else on my crew. We would all read, or talk, or play cards while dinner was getting ready and talk about the cool things we did and saw that day.

Whether you have been on a crew before or not, it doesn’t take long to get into the swing of things and get to know and love your crew members. I hang out with my team off hitch too because they are such a fun group of people! And the icing on the cake is that you get to work with friends all day in some of the most beautiful places; places that people go on vacation to in order to get away from their job.

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About Keva Pariyar

Keva is a 2017 Maine Conservation Corps Field Team Member. Massachusetts raised, over caffeinated, hiking and trail enthusiast. Lover of all things bunny or salamander.

What to Expect When You are Expecting…to go to Orientation! By Field Team Member Keva Pariyar

You were accepted to be a team member, you received your packet of paperwork and packing list, and now you are just anxiously waiting to go to orientation and start your next adventure (and I promise you it is an adventure). Before you hit the trails, MCC has a weeklong intro to all the fun things that you will be doing over the season. Each day you learn components of what will soon become your everyday life.

Every morning starts off with breakfast and making lunch for the day. From there everyone heads to stretch circle, which is a ritual that is continued throughout the term. During stretch circle there is a question of the day (start thinking of some because as the term continues it becomes harder to come up with them). After everyone goes around and gives a stretch and answers the question, the floor is opened up for community concerns. This could be anything that you believe that the entire community should be aware of, hence “community concerns”. After making sure all concerns are addressed the rest of the day begins!

Things that are covered during the days of orientation include:

  • The always thrilling membership agreements
  • First Aid and CPR training
  • Leave No Trace Principles (for a preview, read the article all about them and be super prepared when this day rolls around)
  • Basics of backcountry living
  • Basics of the types of trail work that you could be doing

Don’t worry, although there is a lot of information being thrown at you, there are two breaks and a lunch break and the day is over at 4:30. Every night a group of people are signed up to make dinner for everyone and everyone eats together. After that another group of people are in charge of getting all the dishes washed and ready for the next day. Of course one of the most important aspects of orientation is getting to know each other, and there is plenty of downtime to meet all your fellow field team members before you are all assigned to your respective field teams.

Finally, on the last day, the day everyone is waiting for, you find out who your team leader and team members will be! Once you find out your team, you spend a little time with them and get to find out all the fun projects you will be working on during the term.

From all of us already here, we are so excited to meet you and work with you over the fall!!

 

 

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About Keva Pariyar

Keva is a 2017 Maine Conservation Corps Field Team Member. Massachusetts raised, over caffeinated, hiking and trail enthusiast. Lover of all things bunny or salamander.

Day Pack Essentials by Field Team Member Keva Pariyar

Thankfully it isn’t necessary to bring our backpacking packs with us every day when we are out on hitch (living and working in the woods). Day packs are used to carry just the essentials for each day. So what goes into a day pack in the morning?

  1. WATER! Staying hydrated is extremely important during the work day. Not only because you are hiking, but you are working hard all day. I always bring 3 liters, but some hot days it doesn’t seem like that much. It’s also not a bad idea to bring another way to treat water such as a filter, iodine tabs, or bleach.
  2. Thankfully, this one isn’t too hard to remember. A couple of snacks for breaks and lunch for the day go into my bag every morning. Making sure to be eating enough to keep your energy up though the day is vital to not only being able to work, but enjoying it as well.
  3. Rain Gear. Weather in the mountains can be pretty unpredictable, and working in wet clothes is uncomfortable. Bringing a rain coat, rain pants, and a pack cover help when a rain storm sneaks up on you.
  4. First aid kit. Accidents happen, and if you are me, they happen a lot because I never know where my feet are. Having a first aid kit helps with everything from minor cuts and blisters to sprained ankles. When you are with your crew, someone always brings a first aid kit supplied by MCC full of all sorts of goodies.
  5. Map and Compass. It’s always a good idea to know where you are and where you are going during a work day. Some projects, like when you are remarking a trail, tend to make getting turned around a little more likely. A map is a good safety net for those confusing times.
  6. Personal protective equipment (PPE). Because we work with both hand tools and power tools, we have to make sure that we are properly dressed to limit chance of injury. Gloves, eye protection, ear protection, and hard hats are all worn when working. I have a couple pairs of gloves in my bag in case I want more grip when it’s raining or the handles of the tools are slippery.
  7. Poop bag. Since we are out working in the woods, Leave No Trace principles apply 24/7. Which means when you have to go during the workday, you need to dig a cat hole and pack any toilet paper out with you. A shovel, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and a separate bag for used toilet paper should all be in the bag.

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

About Keva Pariyar

Keva is a 2017 Maine Conservation Corps Field Team Member. Massachusetts raised, over caffeinated, hiking and trail enthusiast. Lover of all things bunny or salamander.

 

An AmeriCorps State Program