Notoriously unlucky, Friday the 13th is coming up. On this day, my 10 month term with the Conservation Corps of Iowa will also come to an end. While my future career-wise is currently up in the air, I have nothing but good vibes, despite the odd coincidence. Overall, the Conservation Corps has been a great experience. First off, the people in the program are fantastic. The program managers, especially Chris (my boss), have an incredible passion for conservation work and training future natural resource managers (us)! They are also very considerate and genuinely care about us as people, more so than anywhere else I have worked. On numerous times, Chris was flexible with my schedule, allowing me to go on several incredible trips and also visit home. Though at times they may have gotten on my nerves, my fellow crew members are all great people. They are friendly, hard-working, and down to earth. Busting my ass at work was a lot easier thanks to them. I wish them all nothing but the best. As for the benefits of the program, one of the most important ones was the training. I became skilled in many pieces of equipment that are considered vital to this type of work. I am a capable sawyer, a competent backpack sprayer, a decent invasive species identifier, and a trail building phenom! Ok, maybe the last one’s a bit of an exaggeration, but my point is I have skills that will market me for future jobs in the field. I also have a better appreciation for the value of hard labor. Anyone who knows anything about this program will know that we work our asses off, day in and day out. Another great benefit of the corps was the references we made. In our 6 person crews, we traveled across the Midwest to work with a variety of different entities: The National Park Service, Fish & Wildlife Service, state DNR agencies, County Conservation Boards, non-profits, and private landowners. We worked alongside members of these agencies, became acquainted with them, and made contacts and future references. The corps put you in position to meet people who work in the natural resource management field and possibly score a future position. As a whole, the program not only prepared me for future natural resource management work, it also guided me in the direction of future employment. I am happy with the skills I have learned, the people I met, and the $5,500 bonus at the end! In all honesty, I believe the Conservation Corps was a very positive life experience. I would recommend it to anyone. As my term comes to an end, I am anxious to see what kind of employment the future holds for me. While I am excited that the corps is over, I know I’m going to miss it. I have a lot of great memories and rewarding experiences thanks to the Corps!!!