Honoring Veterans 2017: Caitlin Liberson – U.S. Marine Corps Veteran with Mt. Adams Institute and the U.S. Forest Service

Meet Caitlin Liberson, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran serving as a Range Assistant with the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest as part of Mt. Adams Institute’s VetsWork Environment AmeriCorps program.

Tell us a bit about your personal background. Where are you originally from?
My name is Caitlin and I was raised in O’Fallon, MO.

Tell us about your military background and why you joined the armed forces.
I am a U.S. Marine. I joined at the age of 17 and became a Helicopter Mechanic on the Huey [nickname for the Bell UH-1 Iroquois – a utility helicopter] and Cobra [an attack helicopter]. In the five years that I served, I deployed twice to both Afghanistan and Iraq. I joined the Marine Corps to challenge myself, serve my country, and take a path less traveled, especially for a female.

What did you do upon initially separating from the military?
I went to college and got a bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology.

How did you learn about this program? What interested you or made you want to join?
I found this program while searching on USAJobs for a position in wildlife biology. When I looked into it in more detail, I found it to be potentially fun and educational.

Tell us a bit about what you’ve done while in the program.
In this program, I have assisted with monitoring/utilization and updating conditions and locations of water developments. I also had the privilege of doing rare plant surveys with the botanist. I also got my RED card for fighting wild fires.

What have you enjoyed about this program? What are the benefits? What have been some of the challenges?
This has been an incredible experience. I love working in the Wallowa-Whitman/Eagle Cap area; it’s absolutely breathtaking. I would have to say learning about rangelands and range management and its different aspects has been the most enjoyable part, along with hiking in this beautiful country.

What are your plans for the future? What do you hope to do after you leave the program?
I have another position after this program and it’s with Missouri Department of Conservation as a technician. I would like to continue with this path of conservation and land and animal management.

What would you say to other recently separated veterans looking to make their next move? What should they know about joining a program like this?
Make sure you are financially sound. If you’re considering a career in conservation or natural resources, I would definitely do this program.