30 Aug 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!
THE ONBOARDING PROCESS:
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
- 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.
While also being a Manager, I was still completing my own tasks, as a Trails System RA, which included:
- OHV knowledge
- Canoe Certification
- Trail and Tool Maintenance
- Weed eating/ maintenance
- Saw maintenance
- Hand tool usage/ maintenance
- Trail blazing
- Timber cruising
- 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
- Non-Native Invasive Species Removal
- Species Identification
- Assisting the Timber Crew to prepare for Timber Sales
- 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!