Michael L.

With no sense of direction post-college, having just received a Degree in Biology which I wasn’t sure “how to use”, I decided to accept a Crew Member position on a Coastal Restoration Crew based in Houston. During my entire term, Texas Conservation Corps provided the guidance I needed to set a course for the rest of my life: from learning about the skills and culture of conservation work, to everything that comes with transplanting to a new city.

While serving a term as a Crew Member in Houston; then leading a crew in Austin – there was never a day I dreaded going to work. Through TxCC I met an incredibly diverse group of thoughtful, thought-provoking people all connected by a compulsion to serve and have fun doing it. I learned how much of an impact working outdoors with my hands had on my mental health — now a critical criterion for any job I apply to. I also learned and practiced a plethora of hard and soft skills, thanks to the support but also freedom and agency afforded by the staff, which is something I’ve found unique to TxCC. But maybe the most important thing was the self-efficacy I gained from overcoming the many types of challenges presented by crew life inside a safe, open-minded, and accepting community.

Following TxCC — and thanks to it — I gained a position as a wildland firefighter on an engine crew with the Oregon Department of Forestry. I’m now working for the Forest Service on the Mark Twain National Forest performing prescribed burns and initial attack, and even have a job lined up for next fire season with the Bureau of Land Management in California. TxCC revealed a career path I never imagined for myself, but it’s everything I was looking for.