Category Archives: Life

Winning the Job Lottery

In the early 19990s I won the job lottery. I became a part of the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) employed through the National Park Service. I learned how to use an auger, annihilate acacia, roll ice plant, and harvest native seeds. It was the best  first job I could have imagined. It led me to get my dream job as a Park Ranger (for a different agency) just a few summers later. My career has taken me places I could have never imagined after that.

In the Youth Conservation Corps high school students submit an application and names are randomly drawn (typically 50% male and 50% female). Getting my first job was pure chance- a lottery. My first summer job started me on a career through  3 different federal agencies (and a couple of other side adventures). It has been a great ride that all started with that one application. I spent three more seasons with the YCC in the National Park Service before I became a Park Ranger.

I hope some other youth this summer take the advantage of this amazing program to jump-start their careers. The Youth Conservation Corps application season is open right now. If you know any youth aged 15-18 in the Bay Area of San Francisco, wanting to live in Yellowstone or Yosemite, or in any other area listed on this website

Apply by April 15th 2014 (some have earlier deadlines… contacts are on the website) the application information is at:

May this be the start of many new careers…. good luck in the most amazing lottery ever.

Standing at the Entrance Sign

Winning the Lottery


Volunteering, What Makes it Work?

Getting involved in a volunteer effort is more than just finding an awesome group you believe in. I’ve discovered that the talents that define some of my desirable traits as an employee happen to be the things people want from me as a volunteer. After being pursued for normal day tasks I’ve finally reached a couple of conclusions:

I’ve come to realize that I don’t want my volunteer hours to mimic my work hours. I don’t want to spend my time stuck doing data entry, creating standard operating procedures for some data set, or sitting by myself in front of a computer. When I  volunteer I want to be participating in areas I enjoy but don’t get to explore in my current job. I want to be sitting talking things through with one or five people. I want to be active, engaged, and creating.

I am opting out of the physical labor efforts. I have picked up my fair share of trash and jumped in many a dumpster. I’ve helped move old rusty culverts from the river beds. I have removed the invasive species and gathered the native seeds.  I now reserve my time with shovels and plants to my gardens at the house. It’s not a general aversion to physical labor it’s just I’m no longer 18 with tons of expendable energy and living in an apartment. I have land to invest my energy into that produces both beauty and sustenance.

In my world, my volunteer hours are different from my work hours… that’s the secret to engaging as a volunteer for me.