Montana Hall is getting a jump start on her career aspirations.
The sophomore biology major from Paragould, Ark., is currently serving an internship with the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. She is working at the visitor’s center at Mount Magazine State Park, where she puts in about 24 hours a week in the paid internship. That will increase to 30-40 hours a week during the summer.
Hall, who is working toward minors in environmental studies and outdoor recreation at Ozarks, plans to pursue a career that involves the outdoors.
"I picked my major and minors because I love the outdoors and being outside, and that’s a career that just seems to fit me," she said. "I would love to either work for the state parks or with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission."
Hall, who also volunteers with the University’s Ozarks Outdoors program, said the proximity to the Ozark Mountains is something that drew her to the University.
"Growing up, I was always outside," she said. "I was always itching to go camping, hiking, and exploring new places. It was the reason I chose Ozarks. I loved the outdoor program and the location. We are surrounded by so many amazing place to go and explore. My love for the outdoors continues to grow every time I go out."
For her internship, Hall helps campers with their reservations, handles inventory for the center and suggests hiking trails for visitors.
"The thing I enjoy most about my internship is the connections I am making that will help me with my career," she said. "I look at it as getting my foot in the door. I also love the area and the amazing views I get paid to look at."
Hall said she secured the internship with the help of Associate Professor of Life Science Education Dr. Kim Van Scoy as well as Ozarks Outdoors Director Jamie Hedges.
"The both helped me tremendously," she said. "They helped set up a Skype interview with an alumnus who works for the Parks and Tourism department and he told me about the internship at Mt. Magazine. I jumped at the chance. They helped me in every way possible to make sure I got the internship. I have changed my major at least four times just figuring out what made me happy, and they supported me with every change and helped make sure I was taking the right classes and got the experience I need."
While she has always had a love for the outdoors, that passion has only grown since arriving at Ozarks less than two years ago.
"Since arriving at Ozarks, I expanded my love of hiking and camping, but I have also learned to love new activities," she said. "I have grown to love kayaking and canoeing. I am still trying to get into rock climbing and rappelling, but my fear of heights seems to take over every time."
She has also been amazed how much she has grown as a person since arriving at Ozarks.
"Since I arrived here, I’ve discovered more about who I am and who I want to be," she said. "I have had countless opportunities to gain experience and get my foot in the door. Every day is a new adventure and I am loving every moment. I finally get to do the things I love whenever I want. I have learned the excitement and how great it feels when you achieve a goal you have worked so hard for. I have learned responsibility and I have challenged myself probably more then I should. But it has made me a better person and a harder worker. Ozarks has changed my life forever and in the best way possible."