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Author Topic: The “Current” Forestry profession  (Read 315 times)

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Offline Old Nate

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The “Current” Forestry profession
« on: May 01, 2020, 02:51:22 PM »
Hi guys. About a month or two ago I posted a question about getting a degree in Forestry. I have since been accepted to Penn State’s Forestry program and while excited about the opportunity I’ve heard many negative “facts” about working as a forester.

Like:
-don’t do it.
-It’s no longer forestry work.
-Nothing but administrative duties.
-You’ll spend all day everyday in an office staring at a computer.
-You want to work outside, then get a degree where you’ll make enough money to enjoy outside activities.
-If working for the U.S. Forest Service you’ll do nothing but spend your day trying to jump through political hoops.
-You won’t make any money
-etc etc etc

I understand not everything you read and hear is the rule, but some of those statements have me concerned. I am 37 years old. I want to be outside, applying what I learn from a forestry program. I am not foolish enough to believe every moment of a forestry career would be perfect bliss, however, if I am going to invest money into a degree I would like to know what awaits me. I know some  days would be spent in an office, doing the necessary paperwork that goes with this job, but what else should I expect?

I’ve tried searching online and in this forum but I’m just going to throw this out there, from the foresters here:
-what are your day-to-day activities?
-Do some positions and departments allow you to be outside doing the work you initially had in mind?
-I’ve read job placement for graduating forestry students is 100%. Is this accurate?
-I keep reading you don’t do this work for the money. What do some people consider low income or high income. I’m under the mind set that I’d rather enjoy what I do than hate my job just to  make more money.
-Finally are there opportunities to take a day and shadow a forester? Learn first hand what he/she does on a normal work day? 

I appreciate any insight, truly.


Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: The “Current” Forestry profession
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2020, 03:56:17 PM »
   Have you called the USDA or US Forestry Service or your local State Forestry Dept and asked if you could talk with their foresters or people working with related programs? I'd try that.

   Have you talked to the advisor at Penn State for their Forestry program? I'd contact them. I see no reason he/she would mislead you. Good luck. 
Howard Green
WM LT35HDG25(2015) , 2009 4wd Dodge PU, Kawasaki 650 ATV, Sthil 440 & 441, homemade logging arch (w/custom built rear log dolly), JD 750 w/4' wide Bushhog brand FEL

Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

Offline clearcut

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Re: The “Current” Forestry profession
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2020, 07:20:44 PM »
Forestry as is any profession; what you make it. 

To me it is as much about where, place. Your value as a dirt forester increases as you live and learn in a place. When you know the soils, and the most likely places to avoid the "blue goo". Where you know Dave - almost always a guy named Dave - who can fix anything, and the things he can't fix, aren't worth fixing. The local Dept of [ab...z] Dude who if the guidelines say the map is in black and white, and your map has blue lines for the streams - than's not acceptable - resubmit - the printer shrunk the map to fit the margins, your scale bar is no longer correct - resubmit - ... resubmit -. 

Be Dave, not Dude, but know both. Who to call (that would be Dave, thank you Dave) to pull your rig out of the "blue goo" that you knew you should not drive through, especially with rain expected. By the way, Dave used a 12' wide Sno-Cat for this task. Dave can borrow a Sno-Cat to pull you out of the blue goo. A Sno-Cat  is simply the best tool for this task. Be Dave and you will be valued, and trusted to pull some loser out of the blue goo with a very expensive and specialized machine. 

Both Dave and Dude come with a place. And both stay in that place for most of their working lives.
 
Seasonal Positions for most employers are largely field oriented. Good for internships and early experience. See what and where you might like to live. USFS - FIA or other contractor is a great first job for the mobile. Fire always hires. Crummy likely - company rig if you can supervise. Fire Truck if you are dedicated.

Industry as an employer - especially for new foresters has a large field component to most positions. As you gain experience, experienced foresters become more valuable in the office, drafting environmental review documents. Knees, ankles, and hips wear out, and office work starts looking much better. Company Rig likely.

USFS and other .gov - Technicians take on much of field work.  .gov position descriptions online really dig down on how much field vs. office, and specific tasks that are performed. That is what you do, and how you are evaluated within that organization - for the most part. As you advance there is a tendency to move indoors. Paycheck alway clears. Shared company rig.

Consulting - as an employee - Field with office. Lots of jobs involve filling out specific forms with detailed information. Management plans satisfying various legal requirements - tax breaks, cost-share etc. are the bread and butter of many consultants. So office time is a strong component. Needs to be backed up with field work. Larger firms take on a character - set of clients - carbon shops, THP machines in CA, forest service contractors, appraisal, small landowner focused, industry contractors. Milage.

Consulting - on your own. Needs experience to really take this on, but you set where and how much you work. One father and son outfit I know specializes in appraisal, specifically the forest inventory component. They field check inventories for due diligence analysis. So lots of field work, in many places, for clients with significant resources. They travel from job to job, living on site in a decked out RV, most of the field season. Office (rainy) season for write ups and lining up next year's jobs. Decent gig - reputation is everything, took years to build.

Academia - 'nuff said. There are fringe positions - managers of school forests and such, that have field components.

Wildland Fire - pass the Pack Test and you have to screw up really badly to not be able to find some gainful employment. All out doors, often in smoke. Seasonal to start, can build a permanent career. 


Currently there are many ads for natural resource management positions of all kinds. More and a larger variety, then I ever remember seeing at once.


Day to day, I'm a consulting forester specializing in forest inventory and GIS. Mostly indoor, partly due to worn  knees and ankles. But if you got the money, I got the time, and the knee is doing quite well thank you.

Offline Ron Scott

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Re: The “Current” Forestry profession
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2020, 10:12:38 PM »
I'm sure that any of the Allegheny National Forest offices would let you shadow any of their foresters for an insight into their jobs and workload. It would also be good to do some summer work sessions with them as a working employee. Penn State is a good school and they hire a lot of Penn State grads. At least they use to anyway.

The Allegheny NF Supervisors Office is located in Warren, PA and the 4 Ranger Stations are located at Sheffield, Ridgeway, Bradford, and Marienville.
~Ron

Offline Old Nate

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Re: The “Current” Forestry profession
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2020, 09:36:28 AM »
Wow there’s a lot of information in the above posts. I appreciate that. There definitely seems to be several types of forestry work out there, all with different  expectations/criteria and once in that particular field you develop a niche area of expertise. 

If I, or anyone, were to get a summer position with one of the above outfits, what would that position be classified as? 

I have not called any forest service organization or any other entity. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to shadow anyone or not. No harm in trying. Take a day off and see first hand what happens. 

Offline BaldBob

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Re: The “Current” Forestry profession
« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2020, 11:37:39 PM »
"If I, or anyone, were to get a summer position with one of the above outfits, what would that position be classified as? "    

The usual classification for summer frorestry temps is "forest  technician".


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