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FNR Field Report: Lillian Hannon

Students from Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources took their classroom knowledge to the field for summer internships and paid positions across the country, gaining valuable experience, hands-on training and career guidance. The FNR Field Reports series will offer updates from those individuals as summer positions draw to a close.Lillian Hannon holds a garter snake

Lillian Hannon, a senior forestry major from Indianapolis, worked as a forestry recreation technician for the U.S. Forest Service, based at Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington state.

In that role, Hannon was responsible for the maintenance and upkeep around the monument and visitors center, which consisted of tasks like trail work, sign installation, painting and sanding, lawn care, restroom maintenance, and more. 

Getting to spend every day at Mount St. Helens was so awesome,” Hannon said of the position she found through the USAjobs.gov website. “It was so amazing to work at a beautiful place and get to see views of the mountain every single day! The people I met were awesome! It was fun working with people who shared my love of nature and loved the mountain just as much as I did! I also loved being there all summer and getting to see how the vegetation changed from May to August. One thing I learned a lot about was how much the landscape has changed and been altered since the mountain erupted in 1980. Every day we talked about how much the eruption shaped and changed the landscape.”

Hannon and her colleagues experienced landscape change firsthand as a nearby landslide forced visitors as well as workers to adapt their plans.

“On my second day on the job there was a landslide that destroyed the road to the observatory,” HannonLillian Hannon takes a look at the damage caused from a landslide recalled. “This meant that we would not be able to work where we were supposed to, and we had to alter our plans. For about three weeks the monument was completely closed to the public, which caused lots of negative interactions. Eventually we were able to reopen in a different facility than we had anticipated. The landslide made for lots of flexibility and changing of plans, however, it was really cool to get to observe the landslide and watch the construction progress throughout the summer.”

In addition to learning about vegetation and landscape changes, Hannon was able to apply her FNR coursework both on the job and in exploring the locales around her.

“I used lots of the knowledge that I learned in Dendrology and Mammals and Birds Ecology to identify everything that was around me,” Hannon said. “The information we had learned in the Forest Ecosystems course was also very helpful regarding forest policies and ecology.”

Outside of her duties as a forest recreation technician, Hannon was able to see other local sights as well as many others across the country.Mount St. Helens with clouds in the morning

I got to do lots of traveling while I was there and while I drove out to Washington and back,” Hannon shared. “I had an amazing experience getting to explore an entirely different ecosystem that I had only read about!  I was able to travel to Olympic National Park, which I absolutely loved, and that has inspired me to try and work for the Park Service in the future. If not, maybe I will continue with the Forest Service.”

Thus far in her FNR career, Hannon has been involved with various student organizations from the FNR Ambassadors, the Society of American Foresters and the Student Chapter of Environmental Education. She has also served as a teaching assistant for the dendrology class the past two years.

As she looks ahead to life after graduation, Hannon knows she has many options and is looking forward to whatever lies ahead.

“I’m not entirely sure what I want to do for the future, but I hope to continue working different seasonal jobs and traveling and seeing a bunch of cool places.”

A collage of photos from Lillian Hannon's summer at Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. Top row (left to right): Hannon holding a garter snake; a view of Mount St. Helens surrounded by clouds in the morning; Lillian standing in front of Mount St. Helens. Row 2 (L to R): Lillian at the Johnston Ridge Observatory while hiking to get supplies trapped from the landslide; a view of Mount St. Helens at sunset; Lillian and the Forest Service staff on the observation deck of the science and learning center. Row 3: Lillian exploring the landslide; Lillian fishing on Coldwater Lake; Lillian and her coworkers hiking at Mount St. Helens; a banana slug Lillian observed in Washington. A collage of photos from Lillian Hannon's summer at Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. Top row (left to right): Hannon holding a garter snake; a view of Mount St. Helens surrounded by clouds in the morning; Lillian standing in front of Mount St. Helens. Row 2 (L to R): Lillian at the Johnston Ridge Observatory while hiking to get supplies trapped from the landslide; a view of Mount St. Helens at sunset; Lillian and the Forest Service staff on the observation deck of the science and learning center. Row 3: Lillian exploring the landslide; Lillian fishing on Coldwater Lake; Lillian and her coworkers hiking at Mount St. Helens; a banana slug Lillian observed in Washington.

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