Read about Seth’s experiences during the first two months of service;
What is next? It has been the main focal point in many of our lives. It sure is the topic of discussion as a young professional and student. It seems as everyone is watching you to see what path you chose, like we have any idea. After graduating with my Master’s Degree this past August I decided to embark on a journey to drive through the United States and see what the world has to offer, leaving pretty much everything behind. I had my eyes and heart set on getting to Butte Montana. Now most individuals at this point say “why Montana” or laugh at the illegitimate notion that Butte is pronounced butt. Well since I was a little boy I was fascinated with Montana and always wanted to come here. During my tenure as a graduate student I met a great friend who ended up moving to Butte and he graciously offered an invite for me to come here where I could start fresh.
Okay by now you are asking what has this have to do with Energy Corps, well I am getting to that point so hold your horses 🙂
Keep in mind I had no idea what was next, I had no plan, nor no job opportunity. That is until I was in Cleveland where my friend notified me of the Energy Corps position and application in Butte. As I looked into the background of this organization and what it represents I fell in love and thought how coincidental and amazing this opportunity came about. This was a great opportunity to gain experience related to my recent graduate studies and to actually give back to the community. My heart jumped out and raced when I got the interview even more so when I got the position. I was so ecstatic that the only thing on my mind was to get to Butte and prepare for this position, and all I could think of was what is next.
I have been working with Energy Corps at NCAT for the past 2 months and 2 weeks and I have experienced so much yet so little. By that I mean it has only been a short amount of time to be working on my projects and to explore this great state but at the same time I have had the pleasure of working on some interesting stuff and visiting great landmarks. One of my first tasks as a member here was constructing an 18ftX32ft high tunnel (hoop house) for demonstration purposes on the NCAT sift farm. What an experience that has been, I have never constructed anything like this and it was great to get thrown into the mix. Not to sound boastful but I think I have done a pretty good job on it. I have been creating cost-benefit analysis of vertical (in-door) agriculture in order to see if farmers in Montana can extend their growing season even with the intense cold.
As for the people I have encountered when it comes to colleagues and the locals I have received nothing but the kind gestures of civility. Everyone is so friendly and quick to offer fun and exciting tips in exploring the state of Montana. All the Buttians I work with are quick to offer the locale spots native to the city and offer tours. Thanks to an employee of NCAT I was able to join the local adult history club which tours all kinds of unique buildings and traditions native to Butte. Through the history club I was able to visit the Lady of the Rockies located on the Continental Divide while volunteering to help clean and close the iconic spot for winter. With my fellow Energy Corps members we have been able to explore unique spots like Red Lodge and most recently for me, climbing a mountain in the Highland Range.
In summary my time here has been short but all the more exhilarating. I have been assigned some pretty cool tasks and projects. I have met fantastic people who do not cease to amaze me; I have met a lot of individuals who share the same passion as I do. At this moment I know what tasks I am working on and what deliverables that will come about but I can honestly say with confidence I do not know what will happen next. To be frank I believe that to be the greatest secret in our lifetime and I can attest to that. So the next time when someone asks you what is next you can stand there with a grin on your face and say in confidence I do not know. As they stand there baffled or judge your decisions understand the opportunities are endless in our current realm. And please remember you are as infinite and wondrous as the universe we live in.
Seth Marsala-Bell received his Master’s of Sustainable Development Practice from the University of Florida. He also has a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Florida. He has worked with peasant farmers in Columbia studying their farming adaptation to climate change; food security; and the roles of men and women in agricultural production. Seth is serving at NCAT this year, researching energy inputs and outputs of hoop houses, building based agriculture energy implications, among other projects.