Rafting for green jobs



Veterans Green Jobs, Paul Sharp
  • Courtesy Veterans Green Jobs
  • The stretch of the Yampa that Sharp will raft is no more than class III rapids.
On Saturday, June 29, 10 military veterans will embark on a six-day rafting voyage in eastern Utah in an effort to mitigate invasive plants along the Yampa River. Beginning in Dinosaur National Monument, the veterans will remove trees that threaten water supplies, including Russian olives and salt cedars.

This is the fourth consecutive rafting expedition organized by Veterans Green Jobs, a nonprofit organization that aims to “connect military veterans with meaningful employment opportunities that serve our communities and environments,” according to their website.

If all goes according to plan, the 10 military veterans will emerge from the conservation expedition with a renewed sense of purpose.

Greg Snyder, associate director of conservation programs for Veterans Green Jobs, says in a press release that the mission of the trip is not only to protect the environment, but also to provide opportunities for veterans to be physically active and "reconnect with each other."

One adventurer is Paul Sharp, a student at Pikes Peak Community College. Sharp served in the army for six years as a company fire support sergeant, and completed two tours in Iraq. This fall, he will receive an associate’s degree in general science, and then intends to pursue a degree at Colorado State University in natural resources management, recreation and tourism.

Concerning his transition from military life to student life, the most difficult part for Sharp was deciding on a major.

“I originally wanted to study biology, but from what I’ve seen, there just aren’t a lot of jobs,” says Sharp. “I like skiing, I like mountain biking — the outdoor part of being in Colorado. So the natural resources management, recreation and tourism degree would really put me into that world.”

Veterans Green Jobs, Paul Sharp
  • Courtesy Veterans Green Jobs
  • 'Dude, where are my keys?' But seriously, environmentalism is dirty work.

Sharp is also excited to form connections that will further his future career endeavors.

“Working with the National Park Service on this trip will give me some good insight into how it works and allow me to network a little bit,” he says. He also believes that it will be a valuable addition to his résumé because it is volunteer-based.

Ideally, after finishing school, Sharp would like to gain employment with a company that is centered in the outdoors: “Something where I can work outside with people that enjoy the same things that I do."

Sharp, an experienced whitewater kayaker since his youth, says he feels prepared for this rafting journey.

“I’m mostly looking forward to just being on the river.”

You can donate to Veterans Green Jobs here to help them reach their goal to find jobs for 300 veterans.

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