By Thomas Offer-Westort
ASC Landmark Crew Member

When I got the email inviting me to join the Landmark crew, I was ecstatic. I danced in my kitchen and then ran through my apartment to see if anyone was home. We were a pretty solitary bunch who had only met each other because of Craigslist, but I just needed to share the good news with someone.

I knew I’d love being out here. I knew I’d love hiking transects and checking trail cameras, looking for wildlife. It would be a fantastic way to be introduced to the Great Plains. Plus, I was eager to get more field experience under my belt. Really, the only thing I was anxious about was what the people would be like. There are so many wonderful things about opportunities like this one, but I’ve always felt that the people involved can really make or break an experience.


The crew spent the day scouting for a new transect in the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. (Photo by Gabby Keating)

Consider too, that the Landmark crew spends a lot of time together. Folks share a pot of coffee in the morning as we get ready for the day. All six of us drive in one vehicle to our site. Then, we usually break into groups of two or three to spend the day hiking transects, checking trail cameras or mapping prairie dog towns. At dinner, we take turns cooking for each other so that we can sit down to eat family-style. We even shop for groceries en masse. It’s a pretty intense way to get to know five strangers, and certainly a heck of a lot less alone time than I’m used to. In the three months I spent with my last two roommates, I never once saw both of them in the same room at the same time. Socializing just wasn’t part of our living arrangement.

But somehow, magically, it’s all working out. Better than working out, even. My crewmates are an absolutely wonderful group of people. Even when we could have some time to ourselves, we still spend most of it hanging out. Some nights we play cards or board games. Other times we crowd around someone’s computer to watch a TEDTalk. A few of us have even started exercising together in the evenings (as though we’re not getting enough exercise during the day). Even when we have early mornings or those particularly hot days, we all still manage to get along great. And I’ve learned to really appreciate being in small groups during the day, where the nature of the position allows for some one-on-one time with each member of the crew.

We’ve only been out here for about three weeks, but I’m really hoping I stay friends with these folks long after our time out here is over.

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