My Position as the Trails System Resource Assistant – Marissa Hurst

My name is Marissa Hurst and I am the Trails System Resource Assistant for the Wayne National Forest in Pedro, Ohio. Located at the Ironton District, I have the privilege to work Environment for the America’s, as well as being partnered with The United States Forest Service. I am a recent graduate with a B.S. in Environmental Science and minors in Eco Art and Photography. Here is what it is like for being a Trails RA for the Wayne National Forest! I will walk you through my process of becoming an RA and what my job currently consists of!


There is a process that you first start called the “Onboarding Process.” This is what helps you become an official RA and will help you in the long run of becoming a potential US Forest employee.

After completing this, you, as well as many other RA’s across the US, will attend a week long United States Department of Agriculture Orientation/ Online Training.

  • Learned about United States Forest History/ Wayne National Forest
    • Benefits
    • Potential Job opportunities
    • Self care
    • … and more!


When joining the Resource Assistant Program, all RA’s are required to attend a weeklong, online training that the USDA and National Forest present. I personally loved this because we covered areas such a US Forest history, the importance of mental/ physical health, background from previous RA’s, inspiring stories from current US Forest employees, the power of meditation, and more!


Once arriving to my site for my first week, I was able to go over a list of certifications that would be offered to me. The first mandatory certification would be:

  • CPR/ AED Certification Renewal
    • I spent a day being able to train and renew my CPR/ AED Certification!

Although I have already done this before, it was a great refresher and was taught by great instructors.

First coming into my position, I was asked to be apart of a team of managers to lead an Americorp team to conduct trail restoration projects on the Forest. Although it was my first week of being in this position as a Resource Assistant, I felt honored to be in this leadership position. I not only was able to help become a better leader out of this, but I made a few lifelong friends along the way! We overall maintained/ restored nearly 20 miles of trails, completed 4 deferred trail projects, inventoried 150 recreation signs, and finished mission critical recreation tasks. Without their help, we would not have been able to complete these trails for a very long time.

Our first trail restoration project! There was a major washout on the Lakeshore Trail and they did such an amazing job restoring it!   


Group photo of us after a day of canoeing!


Our final day! We took our photo in front of the Historical and Famous Furnace Shelter!

While also being a Manager, I was still completing my own tasks, as a Trails System RA, which included:

  • OHV knowledge

  • Canoe Certification

Photo taken at Timber Ridge Lake

Photo taken at Timber Ridge Lake

  • Trail and Tool Maintenance
    • Weed eating/ maintenance
    • Saw maintenance
    • Hand tool usage/ maintenance
  • LOTS of weed eating and maintenance 🙂

  • Trail blazing
  • Timber cruising

If you can’t tell, I love the Lakeshore Trail!


  • Hiking/ using Avenza application to mark and track trails system within the Wayne National Forest – Ironton District
    • Marking new trails to reroute for future usage


  • Recreation Maintenance
    • Restoring erosion on Appalachian foothills
    • Creating natural retaining walls/ steps to restore eroded trails

  • Office work affiliated with the USDA

Although I don’t have much office work in the summer, it is nice to be able to cool down after being in the humidity all day 🙂

  • Non-Native Invasive Species Removal

Spraying for NNIS!

  • Species Identification

This is wild mint! It is one my favorite herbs and it smells wonderful

I believe this is an Imperial Moth! One of the AmeriCorps team members found this gorgeous insect

  • Assisting the Timber Crew to prepare for Timber Sales

One of my favorite photos! 🙂



  • Working towards my fire certifications to become a Basic Firefighter, and eventually a Forestry Police Officer!


I even enjoy spending my off-time on the trails with my puppy, Ivy! I think her and Smoky would be great friends 🙂

Overall, my experience has been a great start to my environmental career. I hope that as I continue this position into the Forest Service, that I will be able to apply this knowledge and restore the environment surrounding me. I enjoy what I do, and I am very excited to see what I accomplish and encounter as I complete the rest of my term as an RA!​

1 Comment
  • Ruby K Peters
    Posted at 12:28h, 30 August

    Marissa is an amazing young woman!!!