What made you initially want to work in the forestry field? For me, I have wanted to work in this field as long as I can remember. Its more of a passion than a job. I remember when I was very little reading the story of Adam and Eve in the Bible. I remember asking about the Garden of Eden, and my father explaining that Garden of Eden was like the most beautiful national park in the world. I was familiar with the national parks, and so in my young, impressionable mind, I decided that Adam and Eve were park rangers and that I too needed to be a park ranger.
Its a dream that grew with my love of parks and a dream that has been fulfilled. It has not been easy. No other job requires YEARS of temp work and a college degree to even hope of a permanent job. And even with a perm job, We know we will never be rich. I will be lucky to make half the income that one of my parents made. As soon as I make friends and get comfortable in a place, I have pack up and leave it all behind (as I type this I am preparing to move to Zion this week). None of us do this because its easy, none of us do this because we are gonna get rich, none of us do this because we are looking to take advantage of government benefits. We do it because we love it. There is no other reason we would put ourselves through this. It might be difficult, but its worth it.
That’s why I was so dismayed when I heard about federal government hiring freeze. What this means is that if you were hoping to work in the forestry field in the Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, or any other federal government agency, that hope has been shot. The federal government is no longer allowed to hire anyone. And as of this moment, that includes seasonals. That includes wildland firefighters. That includes permanents. No one can be hired. This field is bursting full of people who love their jobs, and sacrifice every day to provide a service to the American people. Its full of people who dream about this job their whole life. And they will no longer be able to work. That dream job in the forestry field that you have been working towards for four years in college may be completely out of reach.
But all hope is not lost. While you may be out of work this summer, be assured that Human Resources offices across the United States are fighting to get you hired. They are fighting for exemptions to the freeze. With an estimated 50% of the workforce being seasonal (and therefore, subject to the hiring freeze this summer), our parks will barely be able to function. With epically long lines at all entrance stations, no ranger-led programs, and no one to rescue you when you get lost on your hike, sooner than later people are going to realize that these places NEED staffing, and something will have to give. In the meantime, keep dreaming and reach out to your congressperson to let them know your goal of working in forestry. Let them know that these jobs are important, and people still care about this field.