Forester, United States Forest Service

Austin O'Brien

Tell us about your work---what do you do? My work as a forester centers primarily on preparing timber sales for a public bidding process. I'm involved with virtually every aspect of timber sale scheduling, planning, field layout , appraisal, and contract preparation . What skills are needed? Good communication skills and the ability to work on a team project with people from a variety of backgrounds are probably most important. My position also requires extensive knowledge of logging systems , timber cruising, road location, and general principles of forest management. Computer skills have become increasingly important within my field and a good working knowledge of word processing, spreadsheets and Geographic Information System ( GIS ) mapping programs is vital. What was your major? Forest Resources Management , University of Minnesota How did you get started in your career? I began working for the U.S. Forest Service as a summer temporary employee, marking timber between my junior and senior years in college. After graduation, I continued to work in temporary positions, doing a variety of forestry related jobs, each one building my experience and knowledge. Eventually, I was hired on as a permanent, full time employee focusing on timber sale planning and preparation. What experience do you need in this job? My present position requires a lot of field experience in forest management and logging systems. The ability to communicate both verbally and in writing with other resource specialists and the general public is an important element of my job. Describe your "typical" workday: This varies depending on the time of year. The majority of my time from late spring to early fall is spent outdoors doing the necessary fieldwork and data collection for the individual timber sales. The rest of the year is mostly office related work, either planning or appraising timber sales. What is the hardest aspect of your job? Political turmoil and conflicting public interests over how the National Forests are managed creates a difficult work environment with constantly shifting priorities. This constant change and uncertainty of reaching a stable timber sale program is probably the hardest aspect of the job. What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? Working with people who are committed to producing an economically viable timber sale that provides both timber and timber related jobs to local communities while maintaining a high level of public land stewardship. What are your suggestions for someone considering this field? Be flexible and maintain good working relationships with co-workers and the public. Stay current on new technologies but remain grounded in basic land stewardship principles.