My experience as a Forestry Intern has been incredible. Its foundation was field based learning and on-the-ground experiences that quickly brought me up to speed with all things related to forest management. I now have countless fond memories of warm days spent in the Bighorn Mountains, the ever present rustle of aspen leaves in the fall, and even some days spend snowshoeing through timber stands and falling snow. My work was not only full of knowledge and learning, but also satisfying and enjoyable.
I had the ability to apply what I learned and was able to work directly with my mentor to ensure healthy forest development and to manage forest product sales. She taught me an incredible range of forest management techniques and practices, as well as guided me through their application. There was a healthy balance between working directly with my mentor and working independently, so that we could continue to tackle our ever-growing work load. We worked out of two field offices, and there was a lot of ground for us to cover in the Casper and Buffalo Field Offices, and an even greater number of tasks to complete each day. I worked to set-up and monitor public firewood sales as well as establish areas for contracted timber harvests. I helped establish new access routes and walked timber stands with contractors who will ultimately harvest and sell the timber. Due to the multiple uses of public lands under the Bureau of Land Management, I have collaborated with wildlife biologists, hydrologists, range specialists, archeologists, recreation specialists, and geologists to ensure forestry actions do not adversely affect the public lands as a whole.
This opportunity has allowed me to see all aspects of forestry, instead of merely focusing on one. My time as an intern has been an invaluable step in the development of my professional career. When I officially had the position, I have to admit, I did not know much about forestry. Over the past five months, however, I have grown and developed as a forester, and now have the confidence and skills to orchestrate forest management practices. When walking through a forest now, I think more about the stand health and density, age-class distribution, and possible access routes, with the mindset of a forester instead of just enjoying the scenery. I’ve developed a critical eye for forestry, thanks to the guidance from my mentor.
While my time in Casper has drawn to a close, the friends, experiences, and knowledge I have gained will continue with me wherever I venture next. Thank you Chicago Botanic Gardens for presenting this opportunity, and thanks to Cindy for taking me under her guidance and sharing her years of experience with me throughout my internship.