28 May 2021

First Month as an RA

Written by: Jennifer Hernandez

My first week as an RA was an orientation week in which I felt very welcomed to the Forest Service. The guest speakers and presentations were amazing and covered a range of useful topics. From meeting RAP Alumni to a financial literacy workshop teaching us how to be more organized with our money. The whole orientation week was a great time and an amazing introduction to what the Forest Service can do for us as Resource Assistants. The Greening Youth Foundation leaders were great hosts and thoroughly organized. I was surprised by the fact that there was an app made for the orientation which goes to show how professional and well-structured this orientation was.

During the orientation, the conversation of being an RA while teleworking kept coming up, and recommendations were made on how to make the most out of being an RA during these unprecedented times. In my experience, it has been a bit difficult to meet new people since the only way to interact with staff is through Teams meetings or e-mails. Navigating this new space virtually is a new endeavor for me and many others but I know that it will take time to adjust and create connections with people. Although there is a loss for in-person connections, the staff that I have met have all been very welcoming and kind enough to explain to me the projects that they are working on.

I was a bit nervous to start my first day on the fellowship but I was extremely motivated by the orientation speakers, telling us about the amount of liberty we have in deciding the outcome of our fellowship and that we take out what we put in. With tomorrow being my first full month as a Special Uses RA, I can say that it has been a great experience so far. The Special Uses field seems very complex to me so far and it seems like there are various elements to land use permitting. But just like learning anything new, it takes some time and my supervisor has been very understanding by having me do training and sit in on meetings to absorb information at my own pace. I have also had the opportunity to follow the Recreation Residence Program Administrator on a cabin inspection. This was my first time in the Cleveland forest, and it was great to finally meet someone from the Forest Service in person. Looking towards the future, I am excited to learn new skills such as gaining more work experience and contributing helpful work to the Special Uses team.

Agency: U.S Forest Service

Program: Resource Assistant Program (RAP)

Location: Cleveland National Forest

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