Field Notes: Your opportunity is knocking at the Women in Trades Career Fair!

KC Parks staff Corinna Fuentes (left) and Jessica Brown (right) milling a fallen cedar tree

We are excited to take part in the 34th annual Washington Women in Trades Career Fair this Friday at the Seattle Center’s Fisher Pavillion. This fair features potential employers looking to educate young adults and connect with tradeswomen to fill valued trades jobs such as welding, electricity or carpentry. It’s a great opportunity to engage with King County Parks to learn about the various special skills used by our field staff that operate and maintain all of our beautiful parks and trails.

And when we say that these skills are valuable, we mean that they are really valuable because not just anyone can walk in and install plumbing or mill wood out of thin air, right? Right! Take, for example, these testimonies and on-the-job photos from a couple of tradeswomen currently working for King County Parks. Corinna and Jessica make the job of milling wood look easy to the rest of us desk jockeys, but it’s their trained knowledge and specialized skills that make a challenging project like this one very satisfying.

Name: Corinna Fuentes
Position: Seasonal Field Staff
Time with KC Parks: 4 seasons

The parks system has taught me the craft of trail construction. Working in collaboration with various volunteer organizations often entails the construction of bridges, turnpikes, puncheons, stairs, boardwalks, and other structures that facilitate trail use.  In order to obtain these materials our crews often mill; the trees are obtained from the property of King County and reused to serve King County Parks. The position also requires the ability to operate equipment and machinery. Mowing, trimming, edging, as well as the use of power tools are essential skills in providing safe and clean parks for public use. I find the dynamic use of all these skills to be very rewarding. The nature of the work is very satisfying in that you’re able to see the tangible results of a hard day’s labor and how it serves the community.

My favorite project so far? Building the boardwalk in Grande Ridge Park! As the 2011 season came to a close, we were only at the preliminary steps of gathering materials for the project. When I returned at the start of my next season, six months later, half of the boardwalk had already been built. Seeing the progression from start to finish and knowing the work that goes into such an undertaking made its completion a very proud moment.

In my role, an average day really depends on what work needs to be done. It may be spent hiking trails, brushing the paths to cut

away protruding growth, sharing lunch in the woods, and enjoying the outdoors. One may find themselves traveling to different park grounds, walking the sites and picking up litter, and making sure all areas are maintained for use. Another day might consist of trail work with a group of volunteers that share a passion for the outdoors. Every day offers a new task and keeps the season very interesting.

I would encourage other women to pursue a career in trades with King County Parks because it provides many opportunities. Many new skills are acquired through the job and it is dynamic in that each day entails a different kind of work.  Through its coordination with volunteer groups and other King County employees, one is granted the chance to work with many different people. This also affords the opportunity to learn new skills from other sources. While working with Washington Trails Association, I learned the ins and outs about what goes into building a trail. Other King County employees furthered my knowledge in noxious weeds, operating power tools, and shared their knowledge gained from years of experience. King County Parks is an excellent opportunity to pursue.

King County Parks Women In Trades
Corinna Fuentes (left) and Jessica Brown (right) take a break to smile for the camera
Name: Jessica Brown
Position: Seasonal Field Staff
Time with KC Parks: 5 seasons

We deal a lot with the public, so good people skills are a must.  Organization, attention to detail, and working well in a team are all skills I use day to day. My favorite part about working with King County is my team. We have such a great unit, it makes coming to work everyday so much easier! Also, being outside during the summer is great too!

As tough as it was, bringing all of the materials down to build the boardwalk at Grand Ridge was great. Even though I wasn’t there to help actually build it, coming back the next season and seeing the finished product was awesome.

An average day starts with a meeting in the morning, just kind of to talk about what project you will be doing that day, then hopping in the truck and heading off to whatever location you’re designated to be at. We will either mow, fix trails, pick up garbage, trim back limbs, you know, anything to make the park users’ experience even better.

Working for King County has been such an important part of my life.  Although it may seem intimidating to work with a bunch of guys, it’s really not. Doing some manual lifting, hiking and being outdoors is such a great way to spend your day! I would recommend to any woman, that working for King County is something they should seriously consider.  After all, we could always use some more girls around here!

King County Parks Volunteer
Kelsey Bartlett, Volunteer Program – Short Term Temp (program assistant)

Name: Kelsey Bartlett
Position: Volunteer program assistant
Time with KC Parks: 2 weeks

I attended a career fair at UW and was interested in a position with King County Parks because it is related to my degree in

environmental studies. I really like the variety of my position because I’m not just sitting at a desk all day doing the same thing. Recently, I got to help lead a group of amazing volunteers on “Comcast Cares Day”. We dug up invasive plants at Marymoor Park, and the volunteers were a very motivated hard-working group! Anyone would be lucky to be welcomed into a position like mine. I get to work with all kinds of people doing things that they are passionate about, such as the condition and environmental health of our parks.

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