Story by Elaina Zachos
As Missouri's summer kicks in, the ticks come out of hiding, and heat and humidity soar. At the same time, ERT members can be found out on the trail and the prairie, maintaining hiking paths and removing invasives. It can be hard to stay motivated at this point in the year, when positive attitudes and focus seem to be taken down a couple notches with seemingly mindless and frustrating work. But as members of the general public take themselves away from their computer screens and step outside, our service now is more important than ever. Here are four tips for staying motivated during the service week:
1) Set Goals: When you get out on the trail, set realistic goals for how many miles of terrain you'll be able to clear or build that day. Then, at the end of the week, tally up how many miles you've done and you might be surprised at how much work you've actually completed.
2) Look Forward to Things: Got a new recipe to try out on your teammates, or a story you can share at dinner? Go for it. Looking forward to things can take your mind off complaining about the task in front of you and help you stay motivated for the next day.
3) Consider the "Why?": The service we're doing is making someone else's life a little easier, whether we know it or not. That might mean we're taking stress off someone in the office, or helping a hiker access a trail or appreciate a landscape a little more. As conservation workers, we have the luxury of appreciating a wilder form of nature, and we get to share a sliver of that wildness with other people.
4) Take Care of Yourself: This advice goes for self-care as well as taking care of your teammates. Make sure you and everyone else is drinking lots of water, checking and treating tick and bug bites, and taking sufficient breaks.You'll all be able to make more of an impact when you're rested and functioning at 100%.
One motto I live by is: "Sometimes, things suck, but you have to do them anyway." Sometimes, the work we have to do is taxing, physically and mentally, when the weather is unrelenting and the mosquitoes and ticks are unyielding. But keep your spirits up; the service we're doing is appreciated and important.