Bound for Cape Cod
I prefer to write the entries on this blog with the benefit of hindsight. There are a few reasons for this but chief among them is that waiting a few weeks or a month after an event — be it accepting a new job, moving somewhere new, or completing some novel task — helps me to separate the wheat of the experience from the chaff. The major downside to this strategy is that by the time I decide a set of experiences is actually post-worthy they have faded in my memory. Keeping a journal has helped me a lot with recalling specifics, but it seems like I need a better way of approaching things.
At any rate, its been a few months since I’ve last posted on my whereabouts. In part this is due to the reasons I’ve mentioned above, but its also because between my new job, my current class load, and my desperate desire to sleep on occasion I don’t have a lot of spare time to devote to entries.
I worked at the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife refuge until September of this year. I had a fantastic time as an Island Keeper on Calf Island and it was great to be able to (at the end of the season) use the skills I’ve developed with ArcGIS to create a map showing Calf Island’s invasive species populations.
At the end of August I received an email from one of my bosses at the refuge with a job opening attached. Through a previous boss of her own, she’d heard that the Americorps Cape Cod organization was piloting a new program, a Fire Crew that would be working extensively with the Cape Cod National Seashore, and needed warm bodies to fill the spaces that were remaining.
I jumped at the chance. I’ve always found fire-ecology fascinating, and had long wanted to work as a Wildland Firefighter, but I hadn’t ever really looked into making the jump to explore that sort of work.
I had my initial application in a day after I received the email, was interviewed two days after that, and was tapped for one of the member-level positions not-quite a week later. I packed up and left Westbrook Connecticut for Wellfleet Cape Cod pretty much immediately.
I had never given serving with Americorps much thought as a way to approach gaining conservation experience. Going into this newest job I honestly had no idea what to expect. As it turns out, this was just as well, since the Fire Crew position I filled is apparently fairly different from the typical Americorps Cape Cod experience. While — like the other Cape Cod programs — the Fire Crew is residential, it’s a much smaller and much more focused experience. Instead of living with 13 other people with wildly different projects I live with 5 other young-men, and we work together every day.
The lion’s share of my first two months here were devoted to serving with the Cape Cod National Seashore. Over the course of a month and a half we worked through S-130 and S-190, learning the terms and general strategies used to fight wildland fires while staying safe. We also had chainsaw training, attended the New York Fire Academy to learn how to operate the portable pumps used in Wildland Firefighting operations, and assisted with prescribed burns and fuels reduction work on the Cape.
It’s been awesome.
Over the course of the next few weeks, I’ll fill in the specifics of the last few months. The Cape is a pretty strange place during the fall and winter, and between learning to start fires, living in a small house with five other young-men, and that whole ‘Hurricane Sandy’ thing that happened, it’s been an eventful Fall so far.