I'd recommend seeing if there is a team in your area that you can start volunteering with. You may not be able to join the team if you're planning on moving, but many teams welcome people who want to learn and are willing to act as subjects or otherwise assist in training. It can give you an idea of whether this is something that you really want to do. I know when I joined my team, I was very surprised at how much of a time, energy and money sink it actually is, even though they tried to warn me! It's something you really have to love, and a lot of people seem to love the idea but not the reality. edit: apparently I wrote that paragraph before I read your other thread...I'd still recommend trying to get involved with your local team to some degree. I don't know how they do water searches but when we do them, we're not actually in the water at all (except maybe ankle deep to push the boat off). Safety is a priority and if you're in danger of being eaten by a gator, something has really gone wrong.
Also, I read your other thread...I can understand wanting to get out of the swamps, but as someone who has lived in the desert and mountains most of her life (mostly CO and NM), you will probably find it grueling. Missions in mountainous terrain are absolutely exhausting. I was just on one where we were having to walk pretty much straight up (and I mean straight
up...the incline was so steep we could barely manage) for several hours--and even though I live a mile high, we were high enough that the air was noticeably thin even by our standards. There was no way around it. I guess I'm just trying to say that everywhere has it's drawbacks. Also, if you have a knee problem, you may want to plan on doing a lot of steep hillwork to make sure it can hold up. I have an extremely minor knee injury from years ago that has healed thoroughly for day-to-day life (I run extensively, ride horses, hike in the mountains, rock climb, etc. without problems) but I can still feel it sometimes on that really steep back country terrain that we usually wind up in on searches. And especially with dogs, even when you do a terrain search, you have to be able to follow your dog if he picks up on something. And while you're not afraid of rattlesnakes...ever stumbled across a mama grizzly and her cubs (or even black bear)? Or come face-to-face with a cougar? I've done both, and I'm not really afraid of either (aside from a healthy respect), but a lot of people are. I wasn't nervous about gators in theory until I was kayaking in Florida and one bigger than my kayak swam alongside me.
Again, not trying to say another about you (for all I know you do have experience with bears and cougars and aren't bothered by them), just giving you things to consider.
I'd place SAR fairly low on your priorities when it comes to your impending move. Maybe decide on a few areas that you like based on lifestyle, location, cost of living, career opportunities, etc. and then just rule out ones that don't have a SAR team in the area.
I'd also just say that you're just graduating from college, and you have a young child (not to be presumptuous, but are you a single parent? you say you have family that can care for her during callouts, but will they be in whatever area you move to? have you discussed this with them?). You've got a lot of time to get involved with SAR. Getting a dog for a sport like nosework or schutzhund and doing that for a few years as you settle into a new career will only help when you eventually get a SAR dog. I mention that because you don't really mention having a lot of serious dog experience. I have a lot, I'm a professional horse trainer (and operant conditioning is the same in all species) and I competed in herding trials for years with my other dogs, and I still found the learning curve very steep (see my post about my first SAR dog washing out). In fact, just last month a dog on my team was certified to go on missions, and his owner was talking after the fact to a new member about how frustrating the training process is--how many times she left practice and just wanted to cry because her dog seemed to be regressing. That's animal training, and it's something that a lot of people are unprepared for.
Anyway, I'm really not trying to discourage you. I totally fell into SAR for the worst reasons (I wanted to give my GSD a job LOL) and wound up totally loving it--although I also had some previous non-K9 SAR experience, so I guess it wasn't totally uninformed. I just think you may be putting the cart before the horse a little. It's a fun and very rewarding hobby in a lot of ways, but it's also frustrating and exhausting and expensive and sometimes frightening and often sad. Even in the short time I've been involved, I've seen probably 3-4 people show up talking very much like you and dropping out after their first serious training exercise, much less an actual mission. That's why I'm urging you not to base your life decisions on this until you have some actual experience with it.