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[l/m 9/7/2004] High tech employment, a romantic notion DW (25/28) XYZ

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Panel 25

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
So you want a job in the backcountry?
What are you doing in computers?
Don't expect to find anything in misc.jobs.offered.
GO visit a job placement office.

	4. There are many senses of the word "wealth," not all of them material.
	I'm not talking about trying to make a deep philosophical point here
	about which is the true kind.  I'm writing about one specific rather
	technical sense of the word "wealth."  What people will give you money
	for.  This is an interesting sort of wealth to study, because it is the
	kind of that prevents you from starving.  And what people will give you
	money for depends on them, not you.

	When you are in a business, it's easy to slide into thinking that
	customers want what you do.  During the Internet Bubble I talked to a
	woman who, because she liked the outdoors, was starting an
		"outdoor portal."
	You know what kind of business you should start if you like
	the outdoors?  One to recover data from crashed hard disks.

	What's the connection?  None at all.  Which is precisely my point.
	If you want to create wealth (in the narrow sense of not starving)
	then you should basically be skeptical about any plan that centers on
	things you like doing.  That is where you idea of what's valuable is
	least to coincide with other people's.
	Hackers & Painters
	Chapter 6 How to Make Wealth
	Paul Graham


This is a common "romantic" idea.  At this stage, the probability of
mixing computers and the outdoors is very remote.  Like the idea of
being a fire lookout or ranger or someting else?  Just telling you
the odds (1000:1 is common).  It helps to have a background in some outdoor
field: geology, forestry, botany, biology, surveying, aerial photo
interpretation, driving trucks, law enforcement, etc.  The work is at times
"back breaking," hot, hard, and sweaty.  Sound discouraging?  Intentionally.
I want to dissuade you from marginal ideas.  Why?  Because these organizations
need real hard working people.  It's scary work in cases.  Consider this
because I've had friends recently lose homes in Santa Barbara, that's a
very real thing, and they need people who realize this on fire lines.
You can't hesistate in that environment.

Next, if you are seeking a summer job with someone like the US Forest Service,
if you are reading this anytime after Feb. 1, you are most likely out of luck.
You need a Standard Form 171 from the US Government.  These jobs come
in the 1s and 2s odds tend to be in the 1:1000.  Pay is low.  Jobs like
these do not involve sitting around.  You must have excellent eye sight,
also remember that most fire towers are lightning rods.  Maybe smoke
jumping?  CA Department of Forestry?

Hints: depending in region, if you are on quarter system, take Spring Qtr. off.
The earlier they can get you the better.
Law enforcement skills for many of these jobs help.
There are sometimes the odd cases of someone not showing.

There is summer camp conuseling and guiding requires some very good skills,
a wide-range of experience, etc. for firms like NOLS, OB, YMS, etc.
If you are young, you have some disadvantages.
Working for a guide service, such services select their staff the year before.
Apprenticeship is typically in order first.
Guiding in National Parks and Forest requires a concessionare's permit.
It's illegal to "simply" guide on public lands.

Other examples of high tech work: snow hydrology (much harder than
backpacking, competition for jobs, extreme avalanche danger [most
resignations]), glaciology (naw, no future), field biologist, field geologist
(petroleum and mineral exploration, compromise environmental values?),
etc.

From: John Cooley <johnc@csupwb.ColoState.EDU>

A backcountry job

Actually, one job is commonly available on a very part-time basis, mostly in
the western US. You can become a wildland firefighter. 

An example of how to get started:
The Larimer County Sheriff's Department (Northern Colorado) gives an annual
one-week training for people wishing to acquire a "Red Card", which means
they are supposedly qualified wildland firefighters.  The training given in
Larimer County is 32 hours (1991), and basically qualifies you to operate a 
shovel or a pulaski under the direction of someone else, and, with luck, stay 
out of trouble.  Written and physical tests are given.  The physical requires 
that you be able to run 1.5 miles in 12 minutes.  They don't like their 
firefighters dying because of heart attacks.

After you do all this, you can be placed on call to fight wildland fires.  If
there are no fires, you don't work.  If you can't be reached, you don't work.
If you are doing something else, you don't work.  If all goes well, ("well"
being a relative term here) you get to go to a fire, get hot and filthy, and
risk your life for the princely sum of $8.33/hour.  

It's fairly easy to get started in the wildland firefighting business.  Contact
your local Emergency Services agency (Sheriff's Department, Forest Service,
etc.) and find out about training. They like to have people up to speed by the
beginning of June, so find out what's going on by the beginning of March, at
the latest.  If you stay with it, you can actually make a career out of it, and 
you'll have some amazing and unusual experiences.



	http://info.er.usgs.gov/doi/avads/index.html
The Department of the Interior Automated Vacancy Announcement System
(AVADS) provides electronic access to notices of job opportunities in
the Department.

TABLE OF CONTENTS of this chain:

25/ A romantic notion of high-tech employment		<* THIS PANEL *>
26/ Other news groups of related interest, networking
27/ Films/cinema references
28/ References (written)
1/ DISCLAIMER
2/ Ethics
3/ Learning I
4/ learning II (lists, "Ten Essentials," Chouinard comments)
5/ Summary of past topics
6/ Non-wisdom: fire-arms topic circular discussion
7/ Phone / address lists
8/ Fletcher's Law of Inverse Appreciation / Rachel Carson / Foreman and Hayduke
9/ Water Filter wisdom
10/ Volunteer Work
11/ Snake bite
12/ Netiquette
13/ Questions on conditions and travel
14/ Dedication to Aldo Leopold
15/ Leopold's lot.
16/ Morbid backcountry/memorial
17/ Information about bears
18/ Poison ivy, frequently ask, under question
19/ Lyme disease, frequently ask, under question
20/ "Telling questions" backcountry Turing test (under construction)
21/ AMS
22/ Babies and Kids
23/ A bit of song (like camp songs)
24/ What is natural?

The following section will likely get thrown out with Jerry's new volunteering
panel (10).

Date: Fri, 26 Nov 1993 20:55:38 -0500 (EST)
From: "Jerry M. Wright" <jmwright@helix.nih.gov>
Subject: Backcountry jobs

A couple of comments on backcountry jobs from someone who used to be
in wildlife management.  I moved on to neurobiology and biophysics.
The pay is better, more jobs are available and the work is much easier.

Are you independently wealthy?  For many professional jobs you are in
competition with people who are and are well qualified to boot.  There is
something nobel about dedicating one's life to reestablishing an endangered
species, restoring habitat, establishing a park, etc. that attracts this
group.

Do you have a skill that you can use to support yourself
in between jobs?  Will your family support you during periods of 
unemployment?  Will your family support you after you get the job?  The
entry pay scale is low.  I know of several rangers collecting food stamps.

Realize that many permanent jobs in the backcountry require lots of
experience.  That means lots of years working seasonal jobs such as
waterfowl banding to get the experience.  One resouce ranger I know in
Hawaii worked nine years as a seasonal employee before a permanent
position opened.  He was a commercial fisherman in the off seasons.
The same holds for most wildlife/resource management positions.  A good
park/forest manager will sometimes manage to open a job at just the right
times for someone they know is skilled and works well with the other 
people already employed.  However, this requires the manager knows you
exist and can perform which takes us back to several years ofseasonal
employment.

Also, realize that your purpose is not to live in the backcountry 
and dust the scenery but to deal with humans who impact the resource.  Not
all people are cooperative about this either.  Poachers by definition are
usually carrying guns and object to being stopped.  You can be mauled
by a mining company with a mad dog lawyer - court room battles can 
be just as deadly as a duel except the dying takes longer.  Certification
by the National Wildlife Federation as a wildlife professional requires 
college level courses in law enforcement and public speaking in addition
to fundamental course work in biology/ecology.

I strongly recommend that folks interested in backcountry work do some
volunteer trail building/maintainance work first to check out what is 
really involved physically.  You get to talk first hand with the 
rangers and managers who just might remember your name on a seasonal
application or even be willing to give you a reference.  This can also 
give you some real insight on the job market.  The American
Hiking Society has quite a few 10 day trips you can sign up for.  Cost 
is $40 plus transportation to the site.  They require good physical
condition and extensive backpacking experience.  If you can't meet 
these qualifications, why are you look for a job in the backcountry?
The Adirondack Mountain Club also has trail maintainance trips from 1 
day to 5 days and sometimes 10 days.  Again nominal cost.  I guarantee
that 5 days in the Adirondacks wrestling with basalt rocks in cold rain,
knee deep mud, and black flies will temper noble ideas.


************************************************************
jmwright@helix.nih.gov

Sometimes it is necessary to grab the bull by the tail and 
face the situation.
************************************************************

Department of Interior WWW Automated Vacancy Announcement System
 
http://info.er.usgs.gov/doi/avads/announcements/index.html

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