Erin Hardy '12

“They added it to the freezer of dead things.” Erin Hardy had just finished depicting an unusual story. Erin was sitting among several Forest Service employees when the van she was riding in very nearly came to a halt. One of the women sitting beside Erin had signaled the driver to turn around. An animal lay lifeless in the road.

“It was half the size of me,” exclaims Erin. But this was not any ordinary road kill; it was a Great Horned Owl, native to the North American continent. For the next two hours Erin would be sitting with several Forest Service employees and a motionless Great Horned Owl.

The owl was given to the head of interpretation of the forest for use in the children’s education programs. For Erin, this has been an exciting first day working in the field.

Erin has also been affiliated with other Alaska-related adventures including the Eco League. The Eco League is an exchange program affiliated with Green Mountain College and several sister schools, including the Alaska Pacific University. Eco League presents students with opportunities to be a part of unique programs in various settings.

A summer internship in the Chugach National Forest allowed Erin to stay in Alaska to complete a total of 400 working hours, assisting in the Forest Plan.

“The coolest thing I did”, explains Erin, “is researching every single thing that people could do on the roads and trails within the forest.” It didn’t take long for Erin to realize that “I’m really good at this.”

Originally Erin wanted to be a recreation major. She had been involved in few intensive jobs that kindled her love for the outdoors and hiking. As a ridge runner in Acadia National Park, Erin was set to make her way across mountain ridges and report visitor counts, trail conditions and other phenomena. She also recorded trail conditions and fixed kairns. “This opportunity did a good job of linking the ideas of recreation and resources management,” she said.

After searching online for the best possible school to fit her criteria, Erin applied only to Green Mountain College. Soon after, Erin concluded that she belonged in the field of natural resources management.

In December Erin moved to Alaska and she couldn’t be more excited. “They don’t even plow the roads. They just make sure the snow is level,” says Erin with a big grin on her face.

Erin finished her degree requirements last month and will return to Vermont to walk with her class.

“My plans after college involve working as an environmental consultant in Anchorage and then eventually to return to the Forest Service,” she said.

With Erin’s enthusiasm this seems to be of little difficulty.

By Zak Stark '15

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