UW School of Forest Resources E-news
September 2009  |  Return to issue home

Did You Know? ...

For anyone interested in a career in forest and natural resource management, now might be the time.

Reports from the Renewable Natural Resources Foundation and the National Association of University Forest Resources Programs have warned of a growing shortage of qualified natural resource professionals needed to fill positions vacated by retiring baby boomers. The USDA Forest Service and the U.S. Department of Interior, which includes the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey confirm this pending labor need, along with similar projections from other federal and state agencies.  Compounding the problem, national undergraduate enrollment in natural resource science programs has declined since 1995 by 40 percent.

Forest Resources alumni have gone on to leadership positions and longtime careers with these agencies, and many have recently retired after long and productive careers. Snapshots of just a few alumni who used the knowledge and tools learned at the UW to better manage our natural and environmental resources include:

Michael Lee, ’73, retired from the Forest Service in January 2007 after more than 21 years as deputy forest supervisor of the Klamath National Forest. His Forest Service career spanned over 32 years.

Jack Mosby, ’73, retired from the National Park Service in Alaska in 2002. An outdoor recreation planner with 32-year’s experience, from 1988 to 2002 he was the Alaska National Park Service program manager for the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program. He is currently active with several trail, paddling and recreation nonprofits in Alaska.

R. Gordon Schmidt, ’73, ‘75, who retired from the Forest Service in 1998, began his career as an initial attack firefighter on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in 1966. He then held timber and fuels management positions in the Siskiyou and Mount Hood National Forests. His final assignment was with the agency’s national office in Washington, D.C.

Susan Wheatley, ’73, retired in 2007 after more than 34 years with the Forest Service, including 12 years as district ranger of the Big Valley Ranger District on the Modoc National Forest.

Adela Backiel,’74, recently retired as USDA’s director of sustainable development. In this position, and also as chair of the USDA Council on Sustainable Development, she led, developed and coordinated policies and programs in sustainable agriculture, forestry and rural communities, and worked to integrate the concepts of sustainable development into USDA operations. She began her career with the Forest Service in 1974 as a soil scientist on the Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska. 

James Rosetti, ’74, retired in 2004 after 35 years of federal service. His background includes working in forestry, wildland fire management, land use planning and environmental conflict resolution.   

Jerry Williams, ’78, was the national director of fire aviation and management. In 1999, he co-led development of a national strategy designed to protect communities, watersheds and species at risk in fire-adapted ecosystems. The strategy became a basis for the National Fire Plan. 

Melody Mobley, ’79, became the Forest Service’s first African-American female forester. She retired in 2005, after 27 years with the agency. Her last position was with forest management staff in Washington, D.C., where she had responsibility for forest health and watershed restoration.

Recent Forest Resources alumni have carried on the tradition and have entered service in federal agencies charged with sustaining and managing the nation’s natural resources. Alumni from the last decade working in this arena include:

Perry Gayaldo, ’96, ’02, is deputy chief of the Habitat Restoration Division in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Restoration Research Program, based in Silver Spring, Md.

Hans-Erik Andersen, 97, ’03, is a research forester for the Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station in Anchorage, Alaska.  

Thomas Bloxton, Jr., ‘98, ’02, is a wildlife biologist with the Forest Service’s Olympia Forestry Sciences Laboratory in Olympia, Wash. 

Kirsten Brennan, ’00, is a wildlife biologist for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in Kenmare, N.D., where her research is focusing on piping plover alkali lake habitat.  

Sean Healey, ’01, is a research ecologist with the Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station in Ogden, Utah, where he works in inventory, monitoring and analysis.

Aleta Eng, ’02, is a recreation forester with the Forest Service’s Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

Mark Muir, ’03, is a hydrologist with the Forest Service's Ashley National Forest in Vernal, Utah.

Robin Lesher,’05, is an ecologist for the Forest Service’s Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.  Her specialty is inventorying the forest’s nonvascular flora called cryptogams (cryptic = tiny and gams = seeds), which include lichens, liverworts and mosses. In 1993 she discovered a new species of unique type of moss; it was named after her, Grimmia lesherae.

Dave Peter, ‘06, is an ecologist with the Forest Service’s Olympia Forestry Sciences Laboratory in Olympia, Wash., where he focuses on resource management and productivity.

Heida Diefenderfer, ‘07, is a research scientist and diver with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's Marine Science Research Operations in Sequim, Wash.

Jessica Taylor, ‘08, is a soil conservationist with the USDA Natural Resources
Conservation Service’s Walla Walla, Wash., field office.

September 2009  |  Return to issue home