What is it like to work in Alaska?

What is it like to work in Alaska?



Hi everyone, I’m Becky Shufelt, Executive Director of Life in the Wildlands and our purpose is to help inspire and show you great experiences of why you should pursue an outdoor career in public land management agencies such as the Forest Service or BLM (Bureau of Land Management) or National Park service. Today I wanted to share a great story of why I’m here from Montana and here in Alaska.

I took the train here from Anchorage and headed out to Spencer Glacier where I did trail work about 16 years ago. So get ready and i’ll show you an amazingstory of why I love to do this job.

The only way to get out to Spencer Glacier is by train so when i was doing trails it was a logistical challenge, but it was an amazing experience to be able to just take the train out to the work site where we would spend eight days in a row just doing trail work and constructing trail. The train ride itself is completely worth the trip and getting to do that for free was amazing an experience that i will never forget.

So right now i am at Whistle Stop, Spencer Glacier and all of these buildings here that you see right now were not there 16 years ago when I first had my trail crew experience up in Alaska.

Here I am hiking on the trail that I helped to construct about 16 years ago and our primary function was to clea rthe brush running chainsaws through a very thick alder. iI’ll show you what that looks like right now. As you can see here on each side of the trail is filled with alder, willow, and cottonwoods. This was very thick in here when i was here trying to clear this out with chainsaws, so as you can see that was definitely a very hard undertaking; however, what you get to see at the end of this trail is all worth all that hard work.

What I love doing about this job so much in trails is that you get to construct or maintain trail that others can appreciate. It gives access to those that would otherwise not be able to access some really cool vista points. Next I’ll show you the end of this trail at Spencer Glacier.

I’m at Spencer Glacier right now, the focal point of the entire Whistle Stop area here in Alaska. This is where the trails that I worked on back in 2006 lead to and it’s just an amazing experience to see this place again. I had somehow lost all my pictures from that time but here it is.

Now I get to have the opportunity to interview Riley Thomas who is an outdoor education specialist with the Forest Service here on the Chugach National Forest.

“Hi I’m Riley Thomas and I’m a forest interpreter ranger with the Chugach National Forest here in Alaska. I bring out people or help narrate tips along either to glaciers like this or on boats. I also work at Portage Lake in Alaska at Portage Glacier. I’m there to basically bring nature to life.

(Riley Thomas giving an interpretive talk along the trail)

I love to do this job because I like talking to people and bringing past experiences with nature into a whole new experience here in Alaska. I think Alaska is kind of unlike any where else in the world and so it’s important to helping people learn about it and also learn to appreciate it at the same time.”

It is really great to come back to this area after 16 years of being a part of the initial implementation of trail work. It’s been an amazing experience to see what it’s become and just I feel so good that the work that I did is allowing people and tourists from all over the world come here to be able to experience places like this. If it weren’t for that trail crew project, these people wouldn’t be able to come out here and see the beauty and wonder of Alaska at Spencer Glacier.

(Narrator) For more stories about outdoor careers, subscribe to the Life in the Wildlands podcast where I will be interviewing outdoor professionals to discover exciting opportunities in outdoor careers, share professional experiences, discuss the hurdles to federal employment and provide advice on how to overcome these challenges. If you’re interested in outdoor jobs and don’t know where to start, or if you already are a federal employee with an outdoor career that’s struggling to make it to the next level in your career development, Life in the Wildlands can help you on your journey.

Inquire about our career counseling and federal resume development services at info@lorib71.sg-host.com or call (406) 848-1660.