Hard Decisions…

Another CLM Internship comes to an end for me. It has been a summer of new friendships, learning opportunities, and experiences. I reflect back on everything with happiness in my heart, but I can’t help feeling a little melancholy at having to say goodbye. Regardless, I look to the future with renewed vigor.

This summer’s projects have been nothing short of amazing. From learning all about endangered sucker fish species and assisting in efforts to restore their populations to helping out with wolves and Oregon Spotted Frogs. I ventured into the most beautiful regions of Oregon and met people whom I hope to have in my life for a long time. My resume grew exponentially and so did I.

Checking wolf cameras in Fremont-Winema National Forest

The same forest after driving 1000 feet higher in elevation! Beautiful!

I graduated college two years ago with the expectation that I would land a full-time, permanent job pretty easily, as I assume most college graduates expect. I mean, I have the shiny degree now, so how could I not easily land a job!? I am everything an employer is looking for!! Was I ever wrong. As thankful as I am to the Chicago Botanic Garden for giving me this incredible opportunity two years in a row, I have found that it is very hard to live when you don’t know what you’ll be doing six months from now. It is a constant stressor. I seek stability.

I have applied and applied and applied and I cannot seem to get even an INTERVIEW. I feel as though I have tried my hardest for the last two years to get a full-time, permanent job in wildlife or botany and that it is time to set that endeavor aside for now. I do believe very strongly in never giving up on your dreams, but sometimes you have to make a decision that is smart and looks out for your future self.

That is why I have decided to re-enlist with the Air Force. The Air National Guard to be exact. I previously served six years with the Kansas Air National Guard, which was a very positive experience and it allowed me to get my degree and graduate debt-free (very thankful for that, I can’t even imagine surviving these last two years with insurmountable debt). There is a guard unit right here in Klamath Falls, Oregon where I did my internship, so I will be staying here for a little bit longer 🙂

I feel very good about this decision. Although I am saddened about putting my dreams of Conservation aside for now, I am looking forward to the future. The career field I am moving into with the Air Force will be in Bioenvironmental Engineering, so I can help the environment in a small way while helping people and getting to do research and science. Things I really care about. This opportunity will be a good one. I can earn veteran status if I deploy (I didn’t deploy in my previous enlistment so technically I am not considered a veteran) so that if I choose to get out after the four year enlistment, I will have preference when applying for jobs on usajobs. I will also receive 12-months of additional school benefits which would pay for half of a Master’s if I decided to pursue that option. A new career field will be opened up to me so I will have even greater options when applying for jobs. I can also choose to be a drill-status guardsmen if I don’t want to work full-time for the military and then I can go work full-time in the civilian world if I wanted to.

All in all, the military is going to give me great stability. I will be able to start putting money towards my retirement fund, which is a big thing that young people really need to take into consideration. I will have extra money to put into investments. I will be able to travel. I am really looking forward to this next chapter in life!

Thank you to the Chicago Botanic Garden for providing me with this fantastic internship two years in a row! I cannot even begin to express all of the thanks that I have.

“At the end of the day, you’re responsible for yourself and your actions and that’s all you can control. So rather than be frustrated with what you can’t control, try to fix the things you can.” -Kevin Garnett

Marissa Jager – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Klamath Falls, OR

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