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Author Topic: Advice for a forestry student  (Read 1266 times)

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Offline tsugacanadensis

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Advice for a forestry student
« on: September 03, 2023, 12:18:17 PM »
Hello all, I am a senior at Michigan State University. I am currently majoring in Sustainable Parks, Recreation, and Tourism and minoring in Forestry. I switched my major as a junior and have been playing catch-up since, but have found that I am most passionate about my forestry classes and want to pursue a career in forestry after graduation. I have taken/am taking several forestry classes at this point and will have accumulated over 30 forestry credit hours, some of which include forest veg, forest ecology, field methods, GIS, nat. resource policy, wildland fire, etc. However, I will be missing out on some core classes like silviculture, forest econ., forest land management, tree biology, and soil science. At this time I'm not 100% sure what I want to pursue after graduation but from what I'm aware of, I think I want to do private forestry consulting or something else in the private sector. I spoke with my advisor and finishing the minor in forestry will not give me an SAF accredited degree, but switching to the major will take one extra year and get me the accreditation. I am very privileged to have been offered a scholarship to be able to take the extra year, but I do not want to pursue this if it won't give me more/better job opportunities post-graduation. For all you forestry professionals out there, in your experience, is having an SAF accredited degree necessary/worthwhile?  Thank you in advance for your thoughts! 

Offline Old Greenhorn

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Re: Advice for a forestry student
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2023, 12:45:21 PM »
I am not a forester but from doing private consulting I can tell you that those courses you will be missing are kind of key to what you want to do in the private sector. Others will weigh in soon with some more reliable thoughts.
 Your thread might get better traction in another forum heading such as forestry.
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Offline Texas Ranger

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Re: Advice for a forestry student
« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2023, 02:23:08 PM »
Degrees are fine, experience is critical in the private field.  I've known a few in the private side that began right out of college as a consultant, very hard go unless a well-paid spouse. Any experience in the real world will be beneficial in an effort to go private.  Forestry is kinda like the military, you don't enlist as a general, you have to pay your dues.

The accreditation will open doors, more opportunities. To advance the degree is the route, but you need to take any opportunity that comes up, a lot of foresters move on to other business opportunities/occupations because forestry is not the best paid job. You live the life a lot of kids dream of, it is a matter of dedication to stay in the field. 
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Offline stavebuyer

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Re: Advice for a forestry student
« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2023, 02:31:56 PM »
I am not a Forester, but I have bought a world of timber. Setting all the technical jargon to side; the world works by networking and SAF accreditation gets you membership in the "club". Private foresters often get many of their clients through referrals from government foresters who are paid to offer advice to landowners. Good timber sells itself. Leads are invaluable. If you're planning on private consulting SAF is essential.


Offline quilbilly

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Re: Advice for a forestry student
« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2023, 04:24:50 PM »
Ditto to the above. I know of many who only get jobs bc they are part of the club. At some point they became competent but I can name a couple loggers who only got jobs bc they were foresters and used those connections to get em. And I can name foresters who took over another foresters business when they retired who only got the job bc of being in the club, as they were new and had no idea how west coast forestry worked. 

Get in the club. Itís important. 
a man is strongest on his knees

Offline customsawyer

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Re: Advice for a forestry student
« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2023, 05:29:06 PM »
I've been in the field for over 30 years. I don't have any degrees but have made a decent living in forestry, it would have been easier with a degree. Your connections are going to be extremely valuable. A degree will help you open many doors to make those connections. 
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Offline beenthere

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Re: Advice for a forestry student
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2023, 07:30:19 PM »
Degrees are fine, experience is critical in the private field.  I've known a few in the private side that began right out of college as a consultant, very hard go unless a well-paid spouse. Any experience in the real world will be beneficial in an effort to go private.  Forestry is kinda like the military, you don't enlist as a general, you have to pay your dues.

The accreditation will open doors, more opportunities. To advance the degree is the route, but you need to take any opportunity that comes up, a lot of foresters move on to other business opportunities/occupations because forestry is not the best paid job. You live the life a lot of kids dream of, it is a matter of dedication to stay in the field.
Mr eastern hemlock
Welcome to the Forestry Forum

Texas Ranger said it well. Read it well, and also read between the lines.

A degree (other than the degrees earned by teachers IMO) will be a ticket to ride the train, so to speak. The destination you are after will come after the train ride. You may see things along the way and decide to get off that train, and onto another bound for a different destination. Along the way, you will gain experience that you cannot get out of a book or in a class. Any which way, enjoy the classes, and then enjoy the ride.

ps: Teachers graduate and are hired as experts to teach children with little or no peer review or measure of their ability to teach. Still there are some great teachers, but there are many who are not. Some end up as college level teachers too.
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Offline Otis1

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Re: Advice for a forestry student
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2023, 08:12:26 PM »
My first degree is in recreation/ business, then I got the forestry degree. Fact is that many of the job opportunities in forestry do require a degree from a SAF university. I would recommend taking silviculture and GIS classes. Many states and the USFS want a degree for "professional" level jobs if you want to move up. The "technician" level jobs may not require a degree, but opportunities to move up are slower. Many states require a degree to qualify to be a consulting forester and write management plans.

I've learned more from working with people in the woods than in the classroom, but that's how it goes. Lots of jobs want a masters now. You could finish your bachelors as planned and then move on to a Master in forestry. I certainly didn't have the commitment for that.

Edit: I just re-read Texas Rangers post, and he is spot on. You also have to consider how much you actually want to be in the woods. This may be an unpopular opinion here, but being out in the middle of nowhere woods all week has made me enjoy weekends of golf and air conditioning.

Offline Cedarman

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Re: Advice for a forestry student
« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2023, 06:55:08 AM »
The consulting foresters here in southern Indiana say they have way more work than they can handle.  Invasive species makes for job security in our area too.
Talk to consulting foresters in Mi and see what they say.
I hire mine by the hour as I need more advice then just marking timber.
I am in the pink when sawing cedar.

Offline tsugacanadensis

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Re: Advice for a forestry student
« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2023, 12:35:03 PM »
Thanks everyone for all the advice! Networking is the key to success, I totally get it. SAF-accredited degree here I come  8)

Offline John Mc

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Re: Advice for a forestry student
« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2023, 05:15:40 PM »
ps: Teachers graduate and are hired as experts to teach children with little or no peer review or measure of their ability to teach. Still there are some great teachers, but there are many who are not. Some end up as college level teachers too.


The same could be said of every profession. My bet is that the percentage of "duds" is similar across professions.
If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.   - Abraham Maslow

Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Advice for a forestry student
« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2023, 06:34:51 PM »
Yes, definitely graduate with a 4-year degree in Forestry from a forestry program accredited by the SAF and become a student member of SAF to start your tenure in a professional organization. Being a member of "The Club" will help open opportunities for you in a forestry career of your choice much sooner.

You will want to do well in the silviculture courses as they are basic to becoming a professional practicing forester. Knowing silviculture is one of the skills that places a forester in demand.

You should have employment opportunities in the USFS, Michigan DNR, and other governmental agencies to gather field experience and seek a mentor to guide you along towards a career in integrated resource management.

You may continue a career in the USFS etc. as long as you choose or after a minimum of 5 years' experience in the field go off on you own as a professional consulting forester. 

Congratulations on your scholarship to proceed with a 4-year forestry degree.





~Ron

Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Advice for a forestry student
« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2023, 12:40:24 PM »
SAF 2023 College Guide: Now Available!
Check out the newest edition of the SAF College Guide! The College Guide is a great tool for high school students to use when exploring prospective careers and college majors in forestry and natural resources. This year's guide dives into career paths and accredited programs in the sector, featuring student spotlights, welcome messages for SAF leadership, and an updated directory of all SAF accredited undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Check It Out

The E-Forester
~Ron


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