Forestry students land national award, new jobs

Colorado State University’s student chapter of the Society of American Foresters recently took top honors at the organization’s annual convention in Baton Rouge, La. This was the second year in a row that CSU students received the award.

There are currently 55 student chapters across the country; only six of them opted to complete a lengthy application to be considered for the top prize. CSU’s student group is the Alpha chapter, meaning it was the first in the nation to be established.

John Schroeder, chapter president, said that the award is a great acknowledgment of the group’s hard work and efforts.

CSU students plant a tree on Arbor Day
Students in CSU’s chapter of the Society of American Foresters plant a tree as part of Arbor Day festivities.

“We are one of the largest and most active clubs in the country,” he said. “We do a lot of work with students and professionals in the area, we do outreach events with underprivileged youth and the Boy Scouts, and we try to recruit as many people as possible to join the chapter.”

The student chapter also:

  • takes field trips to see forest management in action
  • supports CSU’s Forest and Rangeland Stewardship Department
  • helps build a bonfire each fall for Homecoming weekend (using mountain pine beetle-killed wood and slash)
  • plants trees on campus, and
  • sells Christmas trees to help raise funds to send members to the national convention.

Linda Nagel, CSU professor and head of the Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship, said the chapter is a “leading student body” among similar groups across the country.

CSU students remove trees at the Aggie A
CSU’s Student Chapter of the Society of American Foresters remove pine trees that were encroaching on the “A.”

“It’s remarkable to see how the students engage with the broader community, beyond the profession itself, to the broader public,” she said. “They do service work and volunteer work.  It’s a tremendous thing for forestry as a discipline.”

Landing a new job

A handful of CSU students also walked away from the national convention with a new job. The U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management host a high-stakes recruiting event through the Pathways Program, which helps students and recent graduates land federal careers.

Amanda Astor, who will graduate next May, was among the fortunate few — 29 students in total — who received a job offer. She’ll be working in timber sales with the U.S Forest Service in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

At the recent convention, she applied for four jobs and within 24 hours, she had an interview. The next day, she waited for a phone call and job offer.

“It’s kind of crazy and nerve-wracking,” she said, describing how she had to make sure she had cell service on that day. “You’re on pins and needles waiting for this phone call, and if you don’t call them back within 30 minutes, your name basically gets dropped. You go from having no job to having a career within two days, pretty much.”

Astor said she was ecstatic after receiving the job offer.

“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 said. “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.”

Jamie Dahl, experiential learning coordinator with the Colorado State Forest Service, is one of two advisors for the Alpha Student Chapter at Colorado State University. Dahl creates networking opportunities for club members and supports fundraising, among other duties. Bob Sturtevant, a CSU alum and longtime employee of the Colorado State Forest Service, also serves as an advisor.