How did you become interested in working for the Forest Service and when did you start work for the FS?
I grew up in Virginia between Richmond and Williamsburg; my grandfather owned 25 acres of timberland that I roamed daily with both he and my Mom. They taught me everything about the forest possible. I was taught plant and tree identification, medicinal uses, creeks and fish, birds, deer and other wildlife and their habitats. It was the best childhood on earth! I knew that I wanted to work in the forest so I asked my guidance counselor to please notify me of any opportunities to volunteer for summer jobs with any forestry affiliation. She called me in when the George Washington National Forest sent a letter of application to YCC (The Youth Conservation Corps). I immediately filled it out, and I was one of eighteen students chosen out of 3,000 who had applied. I was sixteen when I completed that summer’s work. I was asked to return the following summer as a camp counselor but declined due to illness in my family. I knew then that I wanted to work for the Forest Service. I began working for the Forest Service at age eighteen, ten days out of high school on the Stanislaus National Forest in California in June of 1977.
What were some of the jobs you held during your career with the Forest Service?
I began in 1977 as a member of the trail crew in the backcountry on the Stanislaus NF clearing and building wilderness trails. In 1978, I was recruited by the PNW Research Station FIA Unit (formerly PNW Experiment Station). I collected inventory data in a myriad of landscapes, soil and vegetation types, diseases, and insects in all counties of Oregon, Washington, and California. I began as a technician and became a forester during this time. While there, I also wrote inventory field manuals, supervised summer field crews, recruited and supervised students from Historically Black Universities for summer employment and became the station’s Civil Rights representative. I was with PNW until 1989 when I began my work in forest management with the National Forest System on the Mt Hood National Forest in Estacada, Oregon where I remained for the next 26 years. There, I began on the presale crew marking and cruising timber and laying out timber sales. I then moved into silviculture exploring reforestation, stand improvement, and conducting stand and survival exams when I was asked to become a silviculturist. I was a member of IDTs (interdisciplinary teams) as well as IDT leader and became a silviculturist in 1998 writing prescriptions for timber sales, huckleberry enhancement projects, and other resource projects. I was invited to elementary and middle schools to teach tree identification and caring for the land, took families from the campgrounds on nature hikes, job-shadowed many high school students, engaged Cub Scouts in the forestry, and created a forestry internship program for German students from the University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany whereby, they came here to learn how the FS does business. I wrote a training plan and arranged for each of them to spend time working with all resource disciplines on the District/Forest to get the full breadth of knowledge and experience. During this 26-year period, I was also a Type II Firefighter/Squad Boss, Helitack crewmember, and READ (Resource Advisor). I detailed into the Forest Silviculturist’s position at the Mt Hood NF Headquarters in March of 2014 and from there became the R6 Assistant Regional Silviculturist in the Regional Office where I retired in April of 2016.
What are some of the best memories of your Forest Service career?
It’s a toss-up when thinking back- by far, the most wonderful experience is that of waking up each morning knowing that you’re going to be in the very place you long for doing what you totally enjoy– being in the forest! That’s why I got into this business; for me, everything begins and ends in the field. Working with young people is so interesting and rewarding because they are full of ideas and you get a chance to help them further their knowledge, skills, and future. The people you meet and work with make everything you do possible and worth it; the camaraderie and friendships built last a lifetime. Working together on projects and listening to other viewpoints and ways to accomplishing goals and objectives whether they meshed with yours was always rewarding because of the dialogue and growing pains it took to get there. As a silviculturist, seeing logs on trucks to the mill was a bonus as well as making a wildlife biologist’s day by listening and providing a means to a positive outcome for “their” resource.
What interested you in returning to the Forest Service in the ACES Program with NOWCC?
The idea of being able to impart experiences, knowledge, and perhaps advice regarding forestry/silviculture and the Forest Service experience in general to young employees who have just begun their journey is exciting and worthwhile. I spent much of 36 years with the Forest Service in the field and that’s where I feel that I can do the most good for anyone. Walking through a stand and talking about what it has to offer and discussing the reason for being there and what treatment or not would be best for the future of the stand and the surrounding forest is near and dear to my heart. Knowing how difficult it has become to meet all the goals and objectives of the current FS as opposed to times passed when there were so many more experienced people working from whom to draw knowledge, this seemed the perfect opportunity to attempt to fill that gap.
What is your title with the Forest Service ACES Program and what do you do?
My title is Silviculture Mentor and my duties are to assist, advise, and engage recent graduates and student interns new to the Forest Service on issues regarding forestry, silviculture, Forest Service culture, opportunities for advancement, and whatever else they need for which I can be of service.
What do you like to do when you are not working?
I have five motorcycles all of which I enjoy riding all over the country as well as performing maintenance. I absolutely love eating and trying new foods so when I’m not riding motorcycles, I’m either eating my way across countries while traveling all over the world or gathering with friends and family, watching, attending, or participating in sporting events, or taking in shows, theater, or dancing.
If you could invite six of the people you most admire to an imaginary campfire supper, who would they be and why? (for example, it can be someone dead or alive; famous or infamous; celebrity or next-door neighbor, etc.)
My Mother – She taught me to love people and open my heart and mind to new ideas, cultures, and experiences. It was she who stressed that a proper education and a command of the English language would serve me in good stead and encouraged me to go out on my own and find my way, whatever it was that made me happy. She told me that I was already “Somebody” at the age of six and that I didn’t have to strive to become any other person.
My Grandfather – He would be very proud that I chose a profession that kept me out of doors where he and my mother taught me to tread lightly and of which to take the utmost care. Through my eyes, he lives.
Dr. Martin Luther King – To thank him for having the vision and foresight during the most crucial of times in our life to bring about social change. To speak to him, not of the injustices in the world but to show proof of his dream that we are all equal and we can work and live together in any capacity.
Booker T. Washington – To tell him that lifting the veil of ignorance and replacing it with education is truly the key to man’s success and that the acceptance of a helping hand as opposed to a hand out will take one very far if they recognize it.
John F. Kennedy – As a young President, who saw the world differently, I believe he would have been key to the success of bringing all people together in this great nation as well as the world had he been allowed to live and serve his time in office. No man is great alone but he believed in joining with those who also knew that freedom, equality, education, and the pursuit of happiness for everyone was not just a dream, but a right.
Princess Diana – She cared about every human being on this planet and saw the good and bad in everyone and everything but chose to expand on the good and human side of every issue to further peace and equality for all.