A Vermonter’s Homecoming: Galen Returns To Build Bridges, Improve State Parks

November 16, 2020 | 

Do you remember reading about Galen Vissering in our E-newsletter back in June? When we introduced him to you, he was about to return to Vermont and VYCC from an extended stint in California. As he was preparing his return, he shared with us: “A year ago I started thinking back on my time at VYCC and what I had gained: a tremendous sense of accomplishment…It’s going to be a little different this year….I’m looking most forward to the things I don’t expect and figuring out how to grow from those.”

When we caught up with Galen to hear about his summer experience and the start of his fall, it was crystal clear: he has definitely learned from experiences he did not expect.

Galen recalls one of the questions we asked him in his Crew Leader interview: when was a time you encountered adversity and got through it? “I think this VYCC season will be my new response to that question,” he says. “In the age of COVID, it’s been very challenging. The biggest challenges were shifting schedules and shortened training.” Learning on the job is “the best kind of training,” he adds, and is more challenging than practicing skills before going into the field.

Galen and his crew mates were up for the challenge. He was pleasantly surprised by a 13-foot, universally accessibly bridge build at Waterbury Reservoir. It was “the coolest project I’ve done so far. It involved digging in the dirt, rock work, putting together timber and applying carpentry skills. I’m proud of how it came out. We went a bit over the top because all the other bridges there wash away when the water is high in spring.”









Still more surprising to Galen was his ability to learn a new skill and achieve enough mastery to teach others. His summer crew re-roofed two lean tos. It was Galen’s first time touching a shingle. Now, he is leading a crew and passing his skills on. Galen credits projects sponsor Paul Van Apeldoorn, with the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation for helping him build those skills.

Paul, though, has ample praise for Galen: “He is a natural leader. He goes out of his way to make sure others are prepared. He is a patient and diligent teacher. He can work with half the crew to follow through on what he already knows. I actually learn from him.”

Currently, Galen and his co-Crew Leader Bex Love (remember Bex?) are on a one-week break between two three-week sessions leading a Parks Restoration Crew of six young adults. The crew is mostly stationed in Groton State Forest.

After the season ends, Galen will finalize his move back to Vermont from California. “It’s awesome being back in Vermont. Living in California, I definitely came to appreciate things about Vermont I took for granted when I grew up here – easy access to the outdoors and being in a smaller, friendlier area.” Galen ends on a chuckle, “And now the trees are so spectacular, I feel like tourist … almost.”