by Liana Kopp
Almost two years ago I traveled to the Spanish Peaks Trail in Ennis, MT for my first project with ERT. I knew almost nothing about how the program worked, what to expect, how to saw, how to build trail, or what an invasive plant was. All I knew was how to follow the leadership team into the woods and do what they asked of me.
Last week I went back to Spanish Peaks Trail. My second year with the program is almost over and being back at the place where it all started made me realize how much I have learned. The moment we learned we were going to reroute the trail I knew exactly what tools to grab, how to scratch in the trail, and how to build water features.
I began to think of the other hard skills I have learned- how to fell a snag, how to double bit ax through a log, how to mix chemical, how to change the oil in a truck, how to put up facia on a building, how to muck and gut a home. The skills I am leaving this program with are too many to count.
More importantly, I learned how to be a better friend and teammate, how to lead a group of my peers, how to be flexible in ever changing conditions. I became a more outgoing and capable person. And I made some of the best friends I will ever have. Looking back at that first week at Spanish Peaks it is hard to believe how much I have changed and how much I have gained serving with the ERT.