Hett, Spencer enjoy outdoor jobs

Sports reporter

Not everyone has the luxury of finding a job they enjoy. Torey Hett and Hunter Spencer are making sure they do.

Hett, a Marion resident and Marion High School graduate, and Spencer, a Florence resident and MHS senior, currently are working with the U.S. Corps of Engineers at Marion Reservoir.

Spencer spends his Wednesday and Thursday afternoons participating in a work-study program where he shadows Neal Whitaker. Hett works in the project office about 22 hours a week, hoping to one day become a park ranger.

Taking a chance

Hett was in his second year of studying environmental biology at Emporia State University when he got a call from Terry Holt asking him to apply for a job at the reservoir.

"It was right along the lines of what I was doing," Hett said.

So, he drove back and forth from Emporia, working in the afternoon for the Corps as the office automation clerk.

He answers phones, works on the computer, takes inventory, and helps out campers with any questions or problems they may have.

This past spring he bought a house in Marion and has transferred to Tabor so he can be closer to the job. The drive was starting to wear on him.

"I said that was enough of that," Hett said.

When he is done with school in about three years, he is hoping to apply for a park ranger position.

"It's kind of been an ongoing conversation with me and Terry about whether I can do all the things a park ranger does," Hett, who is in a wheelchair, said.

Holt thinks he could, but Hett would probably have to go out to a larger lake since the position is already filled at the reservoir.

Although Hett is inside most of the time, he said the interaction with the campers has taught him a lot.

"I don't know everything yet," he said with a smile.

But he has had the opportunity to go out and meet with campers on-site when it is slow in the office. He also has been out with Terry to do a bald eagle count, and help rescue a pelican frozen in the ice.

"It seems like there is never a dull moment here," Hett said.

Glimpse of the future

Spencer actually would like to be a game warden like Marion County's Marvin Peterson, but the state won't allow ride-alongs with Peterson because of the dangerous situations that go along with the job.

"That's really what I want to do," Spencer said.

However, he does get a taste of law enforcement by riding alongside Marion Police Chief Josh Whitwell on Monday afternoons.

The senior is considering going to Butler Community College for his general classes, and transferring to ESU to finish out his degree.

He then will look into the possibility of becoming a park ranger or game warden.

For him, the work-study was an easy choice.

It probably has something to do with the fact his father would take him along with him during turkey hunts as far back as first grade.

"I just like being around people who hunt and fish," Spencer said.

Doing what they love

For now the two are enjoying their positions and still hunting and fishing during their spare time.

Spencer said he goes with his dad "pretty much wherever" to hunt, and usually they find themselves at Marion County Park and Lake when they want to fish.

Hett has participated in a handicapped hunt set up by the Kansas Corps of Engineers and Kansas Wildlife and Parks since he was in seventh grade. He has continued to help since taking on his current position.

And while both can continue to hunt and fish the rest of their lives, if they want to make it a part of their job, there is still some work left to do.

Hett knows chemistry and biology aren't always the easiest classes to get through, but he reminds himself why he is there.

Spencer still has his senior year to get through, and a full load of courses in college before his dream comes true. However, he is getting off on the right foot by staying busy with things he likes to do.

On top of the job shadow he has his regular classes, the ride-along with Whitwell, and he volunteers at Marion Elementary School some afternoons, mentoring special education students who stay after school.

"I enjoy doing it," he said.

That seems to be the theme with the both Hett and Spencer who are on track to work in a field they enjoy. And whether it's difficult college courses, or trying to balance everything on their plate, both know nothing comes without a few bumps in the road.

"I keep telling myself to stick it out, because this is what I want to do with my future," Hett said.