In two weeks I will be a Tennessean again. It is finally starting to set in and I am getting excited. I know this isn't a big deal to most people, because they live and work where they want - but in my profession you rarely get that opportunity.
I went to undergrad at the University of Tennessee and majored in Wildlife and Fisheries Science. The professors were awesome but very honest in telling us that in order to "make it" in the wildlife world we need to be prepared to move for jobs. Wildlife jobs are not that numerous and very competitive. So your best bet is to have your bags packed, apply for every job you see, and jump at opportunities. Sounds fun and exciting when you are a 20 year old college kid - but fast forward to real life with bills, family ties, possibly a spouse,house, and children - and this is HARD. Unfortunately, the majority of people that start out in wildlife don't end up with jobs in the field, life gets in the way. And those that do end up sticking it out with a wildlife profession are often living in places far from home. Which is why I am in shock and grateful for the long, strip trip my life has taken me on.
I went from UT to Arkansas for graduate school. In graduate school I met Shawn who is now my husband. It takes a very special man to be married to a wildlife biologist who asks him to move every couple of years and I am super thankful for him. I landed my first wildlife job in Southern Florida - south of Miami. This was my first "foot in the door" job and I am very glad I did it - though it was hard to be away from Shawn who was in Arkansas in college. After we got married (yes we got married when I was living in Florida and he in Arkansas!!) I looked for a job closer to him while he finished up college. I got a job in Oklahoma, which was 2 hours from where Shawn was in college. So I moved to Arkansas for the weekends and was in Oklahoma during the weeks for work. We had such an awesome time and were so thankful we were able to spend every weekend together. As Shawn was finishing up college I started looking for a new job. I had a great time at my Oklahoma job but I wanted to find something where I would have more opportunities professionally. I applied for a ton of jobs all over the Eastern United States and I ended up getting the one that I have now, which is with a federal agency dealing with wildlife disease. I was stationed in Kentucky and was super excited about that, because my sisters are only two hours away and my parents are five hours away. After being 16 -20 hours away, this seemed too good to be true!
So I have been in Kentucky for the past three years and I have loved it. I love my job, love my house, love the family that Shawn and I have started. But then things fell in place to move to Knoxville for my joba. Knoxville has always felt like home to me. It is where I spent the first 10 years of my life, where I went to college, where my grandparents live, where we spend every Thanksgiving with family.
So I was cautiously optimistic about moving to Knoxville. Yeah, it would be great and all - but we had this little thing called a HOUSE to sell in Kentucky first. I was so worried about selling our house in the down economy in a down region. But things lined up better than I could have imagined. Our house was bought by the first people to look at it, with cash.
So now we are two weeks away from moving to Knoxville. And it is starting to hit me. I will soon be back in the area that I want to live in. An area with family, friends, mountains, and ample outdoor activities. I can't help but be thankful and a little in awe of how things have worked out. I honestly never would have imagined it and feel like God is directing our paths in that direction.