Abilities to Work Campaign – Antonio Garcia

Abilities to Work Campaign – Antonio Garcia

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[MUSIC] So working for the Forest Service to me means quite a bit, because I grew up recreating in the National Forest. I love hunting, fishing, quite a bit of hiking. And now that I’m able to work for the Forest Service, I’m able to help manage the resource as far as like cleaning up different areas, also trying to make it more accessible; and I like that because I want to try to help with my kids and have them do the same thing as recreating in the National Forest. You know, make it a place that they’re able to grow up and love as well. I’m a Volunteer Coordinator, and what I do is I work with partners and organizations, as well as individual volunteers. So when I started with the Forest Service, that was a student temporary employment program. They have you really focus on a bunch of different jobs. So I got experience in range, and then I got experience in GIS, which is Geographic Information Systems, creating maps of trails, roads, everything like that as far as on the forest. I had a case worker. I told her what my degree was going to be in whenever I want to go to college, and it was going to be in Forestry. And I wanted to work for the Forest Service. She was like, “Well that involves a lot of outdoor activities and everything, and you’re in a wheelchair. I don’t think that’s going to work out for you.” I started getting positions with the Forest Service during the summer, and I would keep telling her that I’m doing Forestry and, you know, she had me down as Accounting. And, you know, it was real frustrating to me, because I knew that I could do different things within the Forest Service; and for her to be telling me that I cannot do that put me down to where it kind of makes you think, well, can I really do that? And, finally, when I got my degree in Forestry, I went to the DVR to close my case out; and she sat down and told me, “Antonio, I really want to tell you that I’m sorry for doubting your capabilities of getting your degree in Forestry. I want to say you proved me wrong, and I am really sorry that I ever said that you could not do it.” And, you know, at that point I was very happy, because I knew that I could do it; and here she is finally giving me the acknowledgement that it was something that I could do. And people with disabilities can work for the Forest Service. We may have some limitations, but at the same time, we’re able to work around those limitations. We’re really motivated to be out here and come and do our job whenever we get the opportunity to show that and show that we can provide quality work. So if people more self-identified, then we’d have more support for our Special Emphasis programs that help with reasonable accommodations, for people with disabilities throughout the Forest Service. It would show how many people are actually doing those jobs at this time that have disabilities and show that they have been doing the job, and they can do the job. And that’s all we’re looking for. You’ll find that we are very motivated to work, and we want to work, and we just want to prove ourselves that we can actually do these things. That’s all we’re looking for is just the chance to prove ourselves. [MUSIC] [MUSIC] [MUSIC]

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