Riley Troester, a former Anamosa High School student, is living her best life working her dream job with the City of Bozeman Parks Department in Montana. Riley found her passion for working outdoors by taking advantage of the opportunities offered by Workplace Learning Connection (WLC) and Kirkwood Community College.
“I originally wanted to be a meteorologist because I love the weather,” Riley says. “My mom pushed me to do a job shadow though to confirm. I ended up doing two meteorologist job shadows through Workplace Learning Connection starting my sophomore year of high school. They were cool experiences, but I learned there was a lot of math and schooling involved in becoming a meteorologist, and I realized maybe that wasn’t the path for me.”
Riley switched gears her junior year and completed a WLC internship with the USDA office in Jones County as a conservation aide.
“I did a lot of field visits, walking farmers’ lands, which I really enjoyed. The following year I also did an agronomist job shadow. I realized through those experiences that there was also a lot of office work in those type of roles and that my true passion was being outside,” Riley says.
After high school, Riley went to Kirkwood Community College and completed the Parks and Natural Resources program. After graduating last spring, she made the big move to Montana where she works to maintain and beautify parks and city lands.
“I do a lot of mowing, trimming, and trail cleanup, but I love it because I am outside. It beats sitting at a desk for me. I start at six in the morning, so I get to watch the sun rise every day. Can’t beat that,” says Riley.
“My experiences with Kirkwood really allowed me to get to where I am. My job shadows and internship helped me realize what I didn’t want to do. And because of my internship coordinated by WLC in high school, I was prepared for the internship I did in college. I knew what to expect and I actually had my foot in the door and was able to secure my college internship thanks to my experience at the USDA while in high school. I also took some College Credit in High School classes at Kirkwood while in high school and those really helped me graduate from Kirkwood on time. Then, of course, my time at Kirkwood in the Parks and Natural Resources program helped prepare me for this new adventure.”