Small Gesture, Big Impact


by Chris Stauffer Average snake sightings a day? 3! Today Sean and I saw 4—2 milk snakes, a rat snake, and a copperhead. I’m becoming more and more paranoid walking through the brush around these highways, like, at any minute a wild creature will appear and I’m not talking about an adorable pokemon. The hills are riddled with holes and every time the wind blows the tall grass makes a hissing sound. I think infrared goggles should become part of our PPE… regardless, we’re doing good things.

It’s hard to realize the impact of our work at times. When I signed up for the Emergency Response Team I was thinking I’d be doing a lot more with disasters; thankfully this year has been relatively calm, but this means we have been primarily taking on Nature Conservation projects. These projects can get tedious to the point that it is hard to feel like we are making any sort of difference…but then there are always moments that remind us otherwise. Just the other day we went out for pizza and there was a youth there that was fascinated by what we did. Fighting fires, helping out with disasters, even spraying along the highway—we are constantly doing hazardous work to make this world a better place.

As we were making our way to the truck to return to our housing the kid ran out to us and shook my hand. All I had been doing for the past 2 months was spraying invasives and still this youth thought of me as a hero. That moment meant the world to me—that moment made the months of spraying the endless hordes of invasive plants worthwhile. Thanks kid; our work isn’t always glorious, but when we run into people like you it makes serving our country infinitely better.