— Getting a job that involves driving UTVs —

By Tim “Lumpy” Tolleson

— Thanks to my dad, I grew up on dirt bikes and dune buggies and developed a love for the outdoors. I originally wanted to be a pro motocross racer, but my parents told me I was going to college, so I chose the best forestry college in Texas. My first job after college was at an east Texas lumber mill and paper plant. It’s funny that I went from growing trees to cutting them down to using paper to publish OHV magazines. Dad was also a photography buff, and that rubbed off on me as well.

So, for going on 33 years now, I’ve made a career of doing things I love—photographing adventures and writing about the OHV lifestyle. My career could have taken another turn, had I stayed in forestry. My friend’s dad was a Texas congressman, and he could have landed me a civil service job as a forest ranger. Maybe I would have ended up with a government dream job working with OHVs, maybe even running a USFS, BLM or state OHV program.

The National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC) regularly lists state and national OHV-related job openings, and NOHVCC contributor Dave Halsey wrote about “Landing a Job in OHV Recreation” in the March newsletter. Halsey wrote, “Reid Brown and Jaydon Mead got their college degrees in Recreation Resource Management. Kerry Wood’s degree was in Recreation Administration and Forestry.

“These and thousands of other men and women are involved in off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation as land managers, recreation planners, OHV program managers, and other positions with state or federal agencies. Their education and career paths vary widely. Some found their calling early on. Some learned about jobs in OHV recreation in college. Others didn’t learn their current jobs existed until they were out of college. Many believe there is a greater need for informing high school and college counselors about career opportunities in OHV recreation.

“Reid Brown, an OHV specialist in Oregon’s Tillamook State Forest, grew up 45 minutes from the trail system he manages today. He started riding motorcycles at age 3, helped his parents on trail projects early in life and later raced motorcycles. He didn’t know a job like his existed until he met his predecessor, Dave Hiatt. ‘I learned about this job in college and figured it would be pretty much my dream job,’ said Brown. ‘Right after that, I changed my major at Oregon State University. I started with the Department of Forestry in April 2013 in the forest roads engineering unit. When Dave retired, I was fortunate enough to be able to transfer over; that was December 2014.’

“Jaydon Mead also learned about his current job with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) while in college. ‘I grew up riding OHVs and have always enjoyed it. I didn’t know a job like this was available until I started working with the BLM,’ said Mead. After jumping back and forth between seasonal firefighting with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and temporary recreation jobs with the BLM, Mead landed an internship in the recreation program at the BLM Price Field Office. ‘The internship allowed me to work year round in the OHV/Volunteer Coordinator position while I attended school at Utah State University Eastern, where I got a bachelor’s degree in Recreation Resource Management. Once I graduated, I converted into the permanent Recreation Technician job, where I got to continue working with many user groups, improving the trails and recreation opportunities in and around the San Rafael Swell.’

“Kerry Wood is the Wilderness and Trails Program Manager for the Sandia District of the Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands in New Mexico. He got his undergraduate degree in Recreation Administration from Texas State University and a master’s degree in Forestry, with a concentration in Public Lands Recreation Management from Virginia Tech. Following his undergraduate work, he did a summer internship at Grand Teton National Park, saying, ‘That solidified my interest in the land management side of things.’ He worked seasonally for the USFS for another two seasons on a fire crew before heading to graduate school. While in graduate school, Wood volunteered on the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. After finishing his Master’s Degree, he went to work as the Regional Trails Manager for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

“Many colleges offer degrees in natural-resource management, outdoor recreation or related programs. An internet search will reveal some of the most popular. In addition to those listed above—Oregon, Utah, Texas, Virginia Tech—they include the University of Minnesota, University of Alaska, Ohio State University, Idaho U and others.

“As far as finding a job goes, some of the land managers and OHV program managers we talked with started as interns or were hired as equipment operators, trail technicians or other entry-level positions. Volunteering is also an option right out of college. ‘A lot of it is starting as a volunteer and being in touch with agency staff on projects you’d like to help on to demonstrate your skills in that capacity,’ said Reid Brown. ‘When a position does come over, you’re not a stranger.’

“Many colleges have job placement programs, assisting new graduates in search of their first full-time position. In addition, American Trails, a national, nonprofit organization working on behalf of all trail interests, has a job listing on its website. Over 50 jobs have been posted since January 1, 2018. They include a wide variety of positions in motorized and non-motorized recreation. As stated on the website, ‘Trails and greenways employment, careers and seasonal work for conservation corps, trail organizations, state parks and federal agencies’ are available. For more information, go to AmericanTrails.org and click on ‘Trail Jobs.’”

Or, apply for an Assistant Editor position at UTV Action magazine.

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