Posted at 11 a.m., April 19, 2016

Wyoming ideal state for outdoor workers

Oil industry not only option

I have spent many years living and working in big, beautiful Wyoming. I have run casing on drilling rigs in the Jonah Field, drilled holes for mines in Campbell County and faced down walls of wildfire in the Bighorn Mountains.

But mining, drilling oil wells and firefighting are not the only jobs Wyoming has to offer. Wyoming has a robust construction industry and although it appears so it is not just road construction. There are logging and forestry jobs all over the state. Numerous refineries exist. There are conservation jobs for people with the right drive and education and there are major distribution centers in state that start unskilled employees at wage levels higher than the state average.

But high-paying jobs are not the only reason people should think about Wyoming as a long-term home. Wyoming has professional-level mountain biking, rock climbing, hunting, hiking, four-wheeling, boating, fishing, skiing, snowboarding and a plethora of other activities. Most of these activities are significantly cheaper than other outdoor-oriented states because Wyoming has a much smaller bureaucracy. Wyoming also has many national, state and city parks for people to enjoy. Vedauwoo State Park is less than an hour from Cheyenne and Laramie. It is like no other place in the United States. Building-sized boulders seem to rise up from nowhere, creating truly unique landscapes to enjoy and explore. It is one of the most amazing landscapes a person can visit in the entire country.

Education opportunities

Wyoming also has numerous high-quality community colleges and the University of Wyoming is a great value for students who want a quality university education without being crushed under the weight of student loans.

But having lived in Wyoming for 29 years, I have also seen some negative sides to the state and the people who live here. Many of the jobs in Wyoming are tied to the coal and oil industries. Because of the boom-and-bust economic cycle in Wyoming these jobs can go from plentiful to virtually non-existent in a matter of months. When this happens the unemployment lines grow and the less high-paying jobs get harder to find. Finding a career in Wyoming that is not affected by this can be challenging.

The other down side to living in Wyoming is the extremely conservative view of the government and many of the residents. As a fiscally conservative libertarian I do not have a personal issue with most conservative ideas, but I do understand the reasons behind why many people do. Most of the people here belong to one form of Christianity or another and we have a very small population. This causes an unfriendly environment for the LBGT community. The conservative nature of the state also seems to keep a lot of less conservative art and activities from coming to the state. The other issue many notice about the people is a sort of we-don’t-want-you-here, good-old-boys-club attitude. But that is probably the case in any small population centers with tight-knit groups.

If you love the outdoors, working in the outdoors, small-populations and small government, Wyoming is the place for you. If you come with an open mind and are willing to take the good with the bad Wyoming is an amazing place to live.

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