Military spouse gives back to garrison

Karen Baumgartner, mother and military spouse, gained job experience in her career field by volunteering with the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Directorate of Public Works’ Environmental Division.

She went back to school when she was about 30, she said, and finished her degree in environmental science. Then the family had to move, her husband deployed and she had children to take care of. The volunteer job with DPW was the first opportunity for her to work in the career field of her choice.

During a town hall on Hainerberg in spring of 2019, she heard Bill Kavanagh, environmental engineer with the Environmental Division, talk and heard him say the division was short-staffed. After the town hall she told him: “’You sound like you need a volunteer,” and he said ‘absolutely.’” She started in June 2019.

Photo courtesy of Karen Baumgartner
Karen Baumgartner does volunteer work with the Wiesbaden Directorate of Public Works’ Environmental Division.

In her volunteer job, Baumgartner did a little bit of everything. She assisted with bird monitoring on the airfield, which consisted of counting the birds in each section. This effort was intended to help evaluate whether bird mitigation measures were working. She also supported the water program by putting together water testing kits and helping with data entry. She assisted in the purchasing process of water fountains for the gym and the barracks, gave the newcomer’s brief for the Environmental Division and helped with many daily tasks.

“My favorite thing is the bird monitoring though,” she said. “I like doing that.”

Apart from gaining job experience, Baumgartner also took part in a Spill Response Training, which involved a class and then a demonstration of a mock fuel spill on the airfield.

“Volunteering has provided opportunity for training that would be very expensive to get otherwise,” she said. “What I have given in volunteer hours, I have gained much more in experience and knowledge.”

Baumgartner encourages people to volunteer in career fields they feel passionate about.

“Approach people who work there and see if they need help and offer your services to them,” she said. “It’s great for your job experience.”

Editor’s note: This story describes Bamgartner’s volunteer experiences prior to the COVID-19 crisis and subsequent pandemic mitigation.