For the next two and a half months, “home” is the OSBS, a conservation center and research station located about a half hour east of Gainesville, FL. The site sits on over 9,000 acres of land comprised of a variety of native Florida habitats, perhaps most notably the disappearing sandhill habitat of longleaf pines and native grasses that once covered large areas of the lightning prone southeast before wildfire suppression allowed other trees and plants to take over.
This is the first volunteer gig I have taken, but I always enjoy trying new things. It’s 16 hours a week in exchange for my site and hookups. The work is also different than any job I’ve held on the road thus far: outdoors manual labor sort of things. So far I’ve pulled invasive plants, help map out a planned fire using GPS, and taken down an old fence.
It’s a beautiful and peaceful place, closed to the public and full of natural wonders. I’ve worked my first week and enjoyed it so far, but of course it’s too soon to give an in depth review. Things are a little unorganized and we’re all learning as we go in a way. I am a guinea pig you see, their very first “conservation camper”. I had my choice of the three brand new RV sites when I arrived last Monday, they finished graveling the road out to the little campground a couple days later.
I can already start to understand why full-timers who don’t need to work would prefer to volunteer instead of bring in a few extra dollars with a paying job. The feel of volunteering is quite different from any other gig I’ve held so far.
The environment is more relaxed, there is less counting of minutes, less direct supervision, and more flexibility in my schedule. Or maybe it’s just the OSBS tends to be like this whether the position is paid or not. It’s clear to me that everyone I’ve worked with so far loves their job and wants to do well at it which makes such a huge difference in the feel of a workplace. The work itself even feels better when it’s volunteering, more rewarding somehow.
I could have worked the more traditional four hour shifts for four days a week, but opted instead for two eight hour shifts. This will make it easier for me to pick up a part time job in Gainesville to help cover the rest of my living expenses, a task I was waiting until after this weekend to tackle.
This weekend I was in Atlanta, crossing another thing off of my Dream List. My best friend Julie and I have wanted to perform at a renaissance festival together since we were in college. This year schedules finally aligned to make it possible, and it was uncertain if the chance would be there next year so it was clearly time to jump on it. The audition was on Sunday, I think it went well but it might be up to a week before we hear back yes or no. If it’s a yes, the festival starts mid April, two weeks after OSBS ends, and runs through the first week in June. If it’s a no, I’ll start searching for a summer park job and not be too sad, because even just auditioning was a worthwhile experience and next time we try we’ll be that much better for it.
So now that I have a list of generally what days rehearsals would fall on, it’s time to start job hunting in Gainesville. Those who were following IO this time last year might remember how hard it was picking up a temp job down this way on short notice, but I have one big advantage this time: I’m looking for part-time work, and those are much easier to find that full-time temp jobs. I’m also not losing as much money while I search, since rent and hookups are taken care of.
Aside from that, I’m enjoying all the wildlife I’m seeing out here (I’m even keeping a count), liking the warmer weather, and hoping that the lack of WiFi at my site (I can get on the station’s WiFi at the conservation center building, about 20 minutes away) will mean I get more writing and editing done on that e-guide I’ve been working on. Next post I’m expecting to take a look at what my earnings were at Amazon this holiday season with my bonus check now in (as in my work in the warehouse), and perhaps briefly review 2013 and what I’m looking to do in 2014. Take care all!