Starting Cold Engines

By: Nicholas Cox

I’ve gotta give a shout out to Stihl Chainsaws. At -20F it’s tough to get anything running at all, but with just a few pulls those saws were roaring and it was time to get to work.  And so went the winter.

I was hired back for another term with the Conservation Corps field crews, this time as the crew leader of the Metro Roving crew. Between the end of the last term and the beginning of the current term, those of us who were hired back worked as an interim crew on a couple of different projects. You may or may not recall but it was a particularly cold winter, the coldest in about 30 years in fact, and hence the coldest winter everyone on the crew has ever experienced. The fact that we continued to get work done each day (save the few that were called off due to dangerously cold temperatures) is testament to the reputation of the Corps and the ethic that is instilled in Corps members. We work smart and we work hard because we believe that our accomplishments are integral in conserving our environment.

That last thought has been on my mind more and more over the course of the winter and as we transition into spring and the new term. There are countless perks that contribute to the complete awesomeness of this job, but as I start my second Conservation Corps Minnesota term and move closer to a potential career in natural resources, this last thought trumps. Every idea, concept, plan and decision regarding the conservation of our natural resources relies on the physical work that we and others like us do every day. As I work with a whole group of new crew members, I think this is the main takeaway point I’d like to get across: that the work we do is extremely important and influential to the conservation of our environment.

The winter and its bitter cold is finally sputtering out. The new crew members were lucky enough to experience one of the now-famous polar vortex days while on the job. The district managers seemed to take a bit more pity on them than they did on our interim crew, as they changed the schedule on that day so that we could stay warm next to burning piles of buckthorn. With spring and plenty of exciting work ahead, the energy is high and the outlook is good for another successful term for the Conservation Corps Minnesota field crews.