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September 9, 2019

The goal is to use 1-2 years to travel and volunteer to determine what I should study in graduate school and ultimately what path I should follow.

I’ve been interested in wildlife conservation for as long as I can remember. So as I’ve been thinking about what exactly to do following the Army, I’ve gone back to my lifelong interest in conservation.

I know I want to travel/volunteer for approximately two years following the military. This will give me some time to reflect before jumping into a new career or graduate school. A gap year with new experiences, new people, and a new environment will bring some clarity in illuminating my path. Ultimately, I want to determine where I can contribute to humanity that is simultaneously personally fulfilling and allows me to earn enough money to live.

So in terms of a five-year plan, that’s about all I’ve had for… a while now. I’ve been too inundated with busy work to really dig into the details. But my initial thought has been to follow wildlife conservation organizations on social media to passively collect information while I’m a company commander. Right now, I don’t really have the time to do a lot of networking or research. By the time I’m nearing the end of my Army career, I’ll hopefully have a solid list of conservation organizations I’m interested in. So as I enter the six-month window to transition, I can begin reaching out to these organizations with the intent to be a short-term volunteer.

While I’ve been monitoring all of these organizations, my interest has grown specifically in anti-poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking interdiction. Ironically, those are pretty closely related to my job in the Army–Military Police (MP). MPs deal with organized crime, host nation police training, and collaboration with foreign law enforcement and/or military organizations to solve complex problems. Sweet.

All that to say, I feel like I have stumbled on a specific path within wildlife conservation where I could leverage my experiences in the Army, my bachelor’s degree in International Relations, and potentially pursue something that I find meaningful and interesting. The fact that I even have the ability to sit here and contemplate what I WANT to do with my life and what would be meaningful for me is a privilege in itself I know most people don’t get to enjoy. So I feel a lot of gratitude. That’s another reason why I don’t take any of this lightly and want to make the very best of the time I have, contribute, serve in some capacity, and have fun while doing it. I see it as an obligation.


Looking more into anti-poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking prevention, I did a bit of a self-assessment and concluded I’m not unique. A LOT of people have military or law enforcement experience. A LOT of people have some management experience. So what can I do to truly distinguish myself? I’ve got to identify opportunities for me to become involved now and contribute in the most significant way possible. At this point, my idea has evolved to researching wildlife conservation organizations what volunteer opportunities I can find. I’m also networking as much as possible to identify anti-poaching organizations I can contact within the next year. The mark on the wall is December 2020, so I’ve got some time, but I need to continue to make progress.