It all started with an email.
On January 12, a person with the username “sllamont1990” emailed me, requesting contact information for Alabama Ecological Services Field Office (ALFO) Supervisor Bill Pearson.
Emails from the public are quite common; sometimes folks confuse us with other wildlife agencies and ask for information on hunting licenses or animal removals. (We’ve even been asked to remove snakes from Tupperware!)
So, when our office receives requests from the public, we never know what to expect. As public servants, it’s our job to accommodate the people we serve. I gave Pearson the heads-up that someone wanted to get in touch.
“Send him my email,” replied Pearson. “I’d be happy to talk with him.”
That’s the day the ALFO officially met “sllamont1990,” whose real name is Scott Lamont, currently serving as a lieutenant colonel in the U. S. Air Force. Lt. Col. Lamont is participating in a new Department of Defense program called SkillBridge. This program allows separating and retiring members of the military to participate in training and internships in their field of choice during their last 180 days of service. SkillBridge connects Service members with industry partners in real-world job experiences and helps with the transition from the military into civilian life and a new career.
“I have an educational background in natural resource management, and working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seemed to be a perfect fit for me,” explained Lt. Col. Lamont.
Pearson, an Army veteran himself, was intrigued when he first learned about the SkillBridge program. The ALFO has always supported military programs designed to assist veterans. What really caught Pearson’s attention was Lt. Col. Lamont’s impressive resume.
“He has a wealth of talent that will be extremely valuable for the Alabama Field Office. For one thing, being a senior military officer with 22 years under his belt brings very strong leadership skills,” said Pearson. “Those include the ability to lead and mentor others, proven oral and written communication skills, conflict resolution experience and the ability to be flexible and think on your feet. Lt. Col. Lamont has all of those essential qualities, which make for a successful Ecological Services biologist.”
Those qualities were put to use as soon as our new intern walked through the door. From day 1, all ALFO biologists came together to train Lt. Col. Lamont on the basics of what Ecological Services biologists do.
Lt. Col. Lamont’s internship has been successful; after four months he has become one of the staff. He’s assumed a basic workload of completingconsultations, five-year reviews, habitat assessment surveys and reviewing and commenting on various technical assistance documents. He’s also assisting our office with species profiles for the ALFO’s website.
“Having been with the military for so long, everything is so new. I want to immerse myself in everything I can. I also enjoy working with great people who have taken time to teach and mentor me,” said Lt. Col. Lamont. “It’s been amazing.”
Above all, Pearson is grateful he answered the email from “sllamont1990.” Pearson was happy to fill a need for the ALFO, as well as help a soon-to-be retired veteran move on to the next journey in his career.
“Lt. Col. Lamont has made the most of his internship with us and has worked his way to becoming a productive, well-liked, and valuable member of our office,” said Pearson.
“He has proven his ability to be a very good biologist, and we are fortunate to have him on our team. Once he is officially discharged in January, it is my intention to hire Lt. Col. Lamont under the Veterans' Recruitment Appointment and make him the newest member of our staff.”