Meet the Team: Ben Walters
We are thrilled to have young and passionate college students work here at TCWP! Ben Walters is studying Ecology at Purdue and will graduate in May after he leaves TCWP for the season to head back to school. Keep reading to get to know a little bit about what his dream job is, his hobbies here in Jackson, and the unique attributes he brings to the team.
Q - How did you hear about TCWP and what prompted you to apply?
A - I found the job online through coolworks.com. I wanted a job where I could work outside, and there's no better place to be than Jackson Hole.
Q - What were you doing before this summer?
A - I was (and still am) a student at Purdue University. I'm studying Ecology and will be graduating in May.
Q- What does your day to day look like at TCWP?
A - I get up at around 5:45 to get ready for work and eat breakfast before we start at 6:30. From there, I head over to the day's project and get to work spraying weeds. On breaks, I read a book, and while I work, I listen to podcasts and audiobooks to break up the monotony of walking back and forth along the road. After work, I like to cool off by jumping in the Snake River and then head to bed around 10 to prepare my body for another day of combating invasive species.
Q - Least favorite weed and why?
A - Spotted knapweed. There's just too much of it. I have literally had nightmares where I'm spraying an infinite amount of spotted knapweed.
Q - What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
A - I'm hoping to enter a graduate program for Wildlife Biology and research/conserve large mammals. My biggest dream, though, is to join the US
Antarctic Program as a wildlife biologist in the coolest (and coldest) place in the world.
Q - Hobbies?
A - Running, hiking, camping, backpacking, kayaking. Anything outdoors, really—which is why Jackson feels like such a perfect place for me. On a less physical note—I also really enjoy reading and writing.
Q - What are you thankful for?
A - People. My family and friends back at home, all the crew here at TCWP, the community of Jackson at large, etc. There is a beautiful network of people around me, supporting me in one way or another when I need it, and I could not be more thankful for that.
Q - What unique attributes do you bring to the TCWP team?
A - I approach things with an air of curiosity about them - why is this weed here? What are the conditions to make it grow? Where did it come from?
Sort of like a toddler asking "why? why? why?" —all the time, I come into things with curiosity, and that, I hope, helps others think about these things and recognize the significance of what we do out here. It is just "spraying weeds" but it's also protecting an ecosystem. Understanding what is happening ecologically is key to protecting it effectively.
Q - How do you like living in Jackson and what have you been up to during your time off?
A - Jackson is a fantastic place to be. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how vibrant the community is here. In my time off, I'm typically hiking, camping, trail running (shoutout to Teton Trail Runners), or just generally appreciating the natural resources we have out here.
Q - Had any great wildlife encounters on the job?
A - So many. The best one was when I found a baby deer sleeping under a tree. So precious. But I’ve also seen all sorts of critters - badgers, foxes, moose, even a river otter!
Q - How were the first few weeks of the job versus now?
A - Easier and harder. It was definitely hard to get used to the long workdays and physical labor of carrying a backpack full of herbicide, but it was not nearly as hot back in late May/early June. I've found a flow now, though, and really enjoy the work that I do.