An Education in the Woods
From Library Staff
Byl recounts the story of her apprenticeship on a national-park trail crew and what she discovers about nature, gender, and the value of hard work.
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I was eager to read this book since I worked as a seasonal fire lookout, field ecologist and forest fire fighter during college and grad school. I wanted to see if it was presented the way I remember seasonal work, and it seemed true to life. I like the way the author started chapters by describing various tools. The differences between the Park Service and Forest Service were very interesting. I wondered how the author would portray the reality that is often left out of such romantic recollections. For the folks who embrace life as seasonal workers, the stark reality includes four months of hard work and a life of poverty. There is no health insurance, eight or nine months a year of unemployment benefits and food stamps, high rates of alcoholism, and other difficulties. She mentioned the appeal of a job with health insurance and the cost of two hernia surgeries. Perhaps the surgeries were covered by workman's comp. I never saw seasonal work as a way of life because of the grim reality of poverty. I felt especially sorry for those seasonal workers who had kids. Some of the appeal of this book was it provided insight into a different point of view. I enjoyed it.
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