Better than a walk in the park: Reasons why now is a great time to pursue a career in forestry

Are you happy with your career? (Photo provided by Dabney S. Lancaster Community College)

In an era in which people are rediscovering the joys of being outdoors, some might not realize that a lucrative career is possible -- just by working as part of the forestry industry.

Several colleges and universities offer programs to begin a life-sustaining career in the forestry industry.

Dabney S. Lancaster Community College is one of them -- but the school is unique, as it offers the only two-year, Society of American Foresters-accredited forestry program in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Why is the forestry industry so vital?

“The study of forestry is a critical service to the health of the earth and all that live on it,” DSLCC forestry instructor Scott Reigel said. “It provides key environmental needs such as clean air, water, wildlife habitats, recreation, mental and emotional well-being and raw materials needed to meet consumer demands.”

Hard at work. (Photo provided by Dabney S. Lancaster Community College)

Forestry plays a key role in sustaining the economy.

Some examples:

•Wood and paper are used for many everyday products, and both come mainly from forests.

•Forests can help provide water supply for agricultural use in a community.

•The parks and recreation industry is very reliant on forests, used often by people for walking, hiking, biking, fishing or camping.

•Forests are the natural habitat for many forms of wildlife.

One of the most exciting and diverse environmental science studies is the study of forested ecosystems, the experts at DSLCC said.

The natural world is difficult to predict and manage without extensive education in all facets, as well as real cause-and-effect experiences.

What jobs are available in forestry?

Dabney S. Lancaster Community College students at the Rockbridge Regional Center in Clifton Forge, Virginia. (Andrew Shurtleff/Photo provided by Dabney S. Lancaster Community College)

Careers for those with a degree in forestry vary widely. Some of the jobs in the industry include the following, according DSLCC program instructor Billy Newman. (More opportunities can also be found on this website).

Fire ecologist: Helps fight forest fires and uses resources to help prevent wildfires from getting out of control.

Silviculturist: Studies the regeneration, quality, composition, and growth of trees and helps prevent diseases.

Soil scientist: Analyzes the composition and health of soil.

Recreation technician: Helps make access to forests and woodlands safe for public use. Includes designing trails and monitoring use of campgrounds, facilities, rivers and lakes.

Wildlife biologist: Helps monitor projects in forests and recommends ways to lessen the impact on wildlife.

Forester: Manages growth and health of trees and vegetation.

Conversation scientist: Looks to improve and protect natural resources without damaging the environment. Helps loggers do work in a safe and sustainable manner.

Rangeland manager: Helps to maintain vegetation for grazing or foraging. Works closely with livestock producers and others who use land for grazing and other purposes.

What makes a DSLCC Forestry degree so unique?

The DSLCC Forestry Program offers an extensive, hands-on, two-year degree that examines the real-world impact of natural resource management. Students gain foundational knowledge while also learning how to further research and investigate changes, trends, and requirements of the natural environment throughout their career, instructors said.

A forestry degree from DSLCC provides students the skills to develop confidence in their abilities to produce professional results in their careers.

Its forestry program gets student outdoors, challenging them to produce his or her own accurate results with confidence in the methods to do so, and promoting a strong emphasis on environmental resource conservation, as well as professional accuracy of their data, according to DSLCC.

Does working in the forestry industry have a sustainable future?

Absolutely. There will always be demand for the products and services forests can provide, and the jobs in the industry can pay well, according to Steps.

The demand on natural resource managers is even more important today than in years past.

Our native trees, plants and animals are being attacked by foreign insect and disease imports, the experts at DSLCC said. Our natural resource demands are increasing as the population continues to increase, as societal views on environmentally friendly products increase, as the ownership of our environmental acreage gets more fragmented, and as climate fluctuations cause seasonal extremes that green spaces and vegetation help to absorb.

Want a career that puts you in the great outdoors, often in picturesque areas with no desks or cubicles in sight? Want to make a difference in your neighborhoods by managing their green environmental beauty?

A hands-on learning experience at DSLCC can put you on the path to a broad spectrum of natural resource career fields.

For more information on how to start a forestry degree, click or tap here.