Adam Fletcher started classes at Western Illinois University in the fall of 2007 after serving three years in the military—including a tour of Iraq in 2005-2006. His area of study: Recreational Parks and Tourism Administration. For the next 13 weeks, he’ll serve as the Parks and Lakes intern here in Jacksonville to complete his degree. After this, he’ll be able to pursue his dreams of mountains and being outdoors.
Initially, Fletcher thought he’d study law enforcement due to his military background. But the more he thought about it, the more he started leaning toward something that would truly make him happy—being outdoors. When he was in eighth grade, his family took a trip to Colorado. Once he saw the mountains, he was hooked. “If I can be outdoors working with nature and wildlife, I’m happy,” he said.
During his internship, he’ll be working closely with Parks and Lakes Superintendant Bruce Surratt on projects like the Nichol’s Park pavilion renovation, the Town Brook, and bids for the FutureGen site in Community Park. Some of the more daily tasks include park maintenance and keeping vandalism at bay.
As for his supervisor: “Bruce has been a really good guy to work with,” Fletcher said. “Any time I have a question, he’s happy to take the time to answer and help me out. I’m pretty new at this, and he’s been great.” With Surratt’s more than 30 years of experience to share, Fletcher is in good hands.
After the internship is completed, Fletcher hopes to find a job out West as a park ranger. “I grew up on a farm in Winchester, so if I end up staying around here, I’m okay with that, too. My family is all here.” He went on to explain that it’s difficult to find these types of jobs right now due to cuts in Federal funding and the slowly rebounding economy. Before getting his foot in the door as a park ranger, he’ll need to complete a brief training course to qualify for these types of jobs. That’s first on the list.
Even though he won’t get to experience some of the busier, warmer months for the Jacksonville Parks Department, Fletcher is taking this learning experience very seriously. “I just want to help learn how to manage outdoor spaces,” he said. “If I can help get children, families, and seniors outside, that’s a good thing.”