by Kyle Obermiller
The alarm sounded at 6:45 on a cool Monday morning on the 19th of May. It was hard to believe a mere week before, my friends and family gathered at PNC Arena for NC State’s 2014 graduation ceremony. I knew I could walk with pride knowing my future would start just nine days later.
I gathered what I needed for the day and headed from Raleigh to the Irvin Nature Preserve in Orange County to begin my first day with TLC. After singing my own version of Ricky Skaggs Highway 40 Blues, I arrived a few minutes behind to begin Day One. The anguish of the drive quickly went away as I met with Walt (Tysinger), TLC’s Senior Land Manager, and began a hard day’s work treating an invasive pond plant at Irvin before heading to the Johnston Mill Nature Preserve to work on installing fencing and clearing the trail from downed debris. “What a great job,” I thought to myself. “This is exactly what I see myself doing.”
What am I doing exactly? Well, when I’m asked what I do at my job, the reply gets longer every week. So far I’ve dug trail, built a viewing platform and helped with the prescribed burn at Horton Grove Nature Preserve in Durham County. I’ve battled ticks at the White Pines Preserve to help restore the unique ecosystem there, and this is just part of what I do every week. Furthermore, this great job is in many ways not like a job at all. To me, it is like I never left school. Every day is a new experience, a new opportunity to learn the strategies of conservation and experience first-hand the difficult task of conserving land in an ever growing urban environment.
It’s now the 6th week of my job here at TLC. May flew by and June seems to be doing the same. The summer heat has settled in with me as I continue my journey. Every day is a new adventure and new opportunity to grow as a future steward of the land. And although I still may sing the Highway 40 blues from time to time, it all becomes worth it when I sit back and think about the great opportunity this organization has given me.