When I joined the GulfCorps crew with Texas Conservation Corps (TXCC), I had recently completed undergraduate degrees in Environmental Biology and English, but I didn’t have a specific career direction in mind. I knew that I loved environmental sustainability and I had always been successful in school, however, job searching proved frustrating. When I stumbled across TXCC’s job posting, it sounded like a perfect way to get some experience. The idea of spending so much time in the field restoring coastal prairie habitat was exciting to me, so I applied, hoping I’d be accepted. Even though I couldn’t wait to start my term, I still wasn’t ready for just how incredible the experience was. During my 6-month term I built skills that are crucial for a career in conservation. I learned how to use power tools and hand tools safely and effectively, as well as maintain tools. I pushed myself beyond what I thought I was capable of to pass a pack test and earn a certification in wildland firefighting. I cultivated skills in GIS/GPS technology. I learned how to step back when something inevitably went wrong and problem-solve successfully.
However, these useful hard skills pale in comparison with everything else I gained from my time at TXCC. Every day, I got to work with the most amazing team. My crew made me laugh, inspired me to do better, and altered my perspective on the world. With my crew’s support, my reserved nature gave way to confidence. Although I’d always considered myself a follower, I discovered that I had leadership qualities. I felt at home while I was part of this team, and the relationships I built with members, leaders, staff, and project partners will always be meaningful to me.
I finished my term only a few weeks ago. I wish my term had been longer than 6 months, but I’m excited about the future. Before joining the GulfCorps crew, I had been considering working as an environmental consultant—one of the most lucrative jobs in the environmental field. After this experience, I have different priorities. I know that the skills I gained have prepared me well for a career in conservation, and I hope to find a position where I can continue to learn about ecology while making an impact. Finding my exact career path will continue to be an adventure, but now I feel that I have purpose thanks to the trainings and experiences I had at TXCC.