U.S. Forest Service
Chris McConnell | GovCentral
The best way to learn if a career is right for you is to hear it from the people who already work there. Meet some of the employees from the U.S. Froest Service who tell their experience.
In a typical day, I review and recommend plans for timber management programs. Sometimes, I do more administrative work, like managing budgets and databases. I also prepare environmental assessment reports to ensure legal compliance.
I’ve worked at Forest Service Research in Portland for the last 16 years. I knew that I wanted to work on this team, with people from a variety of disciplines. I love that my work is practical and actually matters. And after all these years, I’m still not bored.
I currently work on program and budget analysis in the Forest Service’s Washington office. I help formulate the agency’s budget and submit budget requests to the Department of Agriculture and Congress. On a day-to-day basis, I track the progress of long-term projects and work with different staffs to complete action items. I also get the added perk of getting to travel for various projects.
The Forest Service recruited me as part of their Scientist Recruitment Initiative while I was still in graduate school. I had two options. I could let the Forest Service finance the rest of my doctoral research and transition to a well-paid, fun job with great colleagues and benefits. Or I could scrape together funding to complete my research and enter a highly competitive job market much later. The choice was obvious.
I thoroughly enjoy working for this agency. I love what I do every day, but working for the Forest Service has other great benefits, like job security and travel. I always encourage people to consider a career here. Just go for it.
After first being hired as a temporary employee, I was recruited for the Forest Service’s Student Career Experience Program (SCEP). The Forest Service offered me the opportunity to earn my Ph.D. in Renewable Natural Resource Studies. I was hired as a permanent scientist when I graduated.
I’ll tell you a secret. I didn’t want a career in natural resources. I was actually leaning towards a career in the military. It was my positive experience as a student research assistant for the Forest Service that made me change my mind about natural resource management. I really recommend taking advantage of school and summer programs. They’re a great way to gain experience and make contacts within the Forest Service.
I knew that I wanted to work for the Forest Service when I was 10 years old. A neighbor told me I would never get a Forest Service job, so I went to work in a factory instead. I never forgot what he said. At the age of 32, I was given the opportunity to attend forestry school in Ohio. With the support of my wife and two kids, I left them in Pennsylvania to study for two years. It was the toughest two years of my life, but I earned a degree, and I proved that neighbor wrong.
I am constantly amazed at the expertise and dedication of my co-workers. Even when people disagree on policy decisions, their passion for their work and for the agency’s role in managing National Forest lands always shows. I have also been fortunate enough to have wonderful mentors in the Forest Service.
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