It goes without saying that Amanda Astor is a go-getter. As a student majoring in forest biology and management, Astor sought out an internship with Kalu Yala, a sustainable developing company in Panama last year because she wanted to work abroad. She recently led a research project at Shambala Mountain Center in Red Feather Lakes, analyzing inventory data from the surrounding forest and providing a plan for how to maintain a healthy environment.
Astor is also a student employee in the department’s main office, where she assists with database management and updating faculty web pages. And if that’s not enough, she served as vice president of CSU’s chapter of Mortar Board, a national senior honor society, and secretary for the local Green Party chapter.
Given all of this activity, you would think she might be ready for a break after graduation. But she’s already landed a job, and heads to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan May 16, one day after graduating from the Warner College of Natural Resources.
Astor, who grew up in Minnesota, will be working in pre-timber sales with the U.S. Forest Service, having secured one of only 29 spots available across the country through the Pathways Program, which helps students and recent graduates land federal careers.
“It really takes a weight off of your shoulders, knowing you don’t have to worry about trying to get a job after college,” she says. “It makes me happy that I’m going where I want to, and using this knowledge that I’ve gained over the last four years to its fullest.”
Astor chose to study at CSU over Evergreen State College in Washington state. She initially had her sights set on the University of Colorado Boulder, but when she went to check it out, Astor said it didn’t feel quite right. Her mom suggested that they visit CSU because they had an extra day to kill, and they got a tour from a friend of a friend.
“Me and my mom ended up falling asleep in the quad to someone playing the banjo,” she said. “We got really sunburnt, but the campus just seemed right. I loved the feel of Old Town too, making the college town seem so friendly and welcoming. I chose CSU because of its amazing natural resource school, the Mountain Campus, and the welcoming feel of the town.”
Over the years, Astor has taken classes in fire science, silviculture — how to manage the health of trees — timber harvesting, and natural resource policy. “CSU does a really good job of preparing you for whatever you’d like to go into,” she says.
As she advances in her career, Astor said she’d like to pursue forest policy and, more specifically, forest carbon policy with an eye toward climate change. She’s already dabbled in this line of research while at CSU, and will be working on a graduate certificate in forest carbon at Michigan State University.
What drew her into forestry? Astor says she loves being outside, has always loved nature and really likes hard science. “I originally thought of doing botany, and that side of plant science,” she explains. “But I liked the applied aspect, and I didn’t want to sit in a lab all day. I’m still doing science and get to interact with people, like landowners.”
Astor says she never expected to land a job in timber sales, but she’s excited about the challenge and also starting a career with the U.S. Forest Service.
“Right out of college, you’re most likely not going to get the job of your dreams,” she says. “But realizing that getting your foot in the door with the industry you want to be in is better than not getting anything or just settling. You may not even know what you’re getting yourself into, but it might be exactly what you love.”