Women of the Olympic

The Forest Service has made great strides in its hiring of women in the past 100-plus years. Once mostly relegated to simply desk work, women truly began breaking into line and staff positions in the late 20th century. We want to acknowledge our own rich history of vibrant women as part of the Forest Service and celebrate the contributions that women make in our world, both personally and professionally. We also understand that it is past time to do the work that needs to be done to thoughtfully identify and eliminate barriers to inclusion for women at the Forest Service.

On the Olympic National Forest we're proud to have a diverse workforce encourgaing and lifting others to success. Below are some women working on the Forest providing leadership, insight and program managment. 


Karen Holtrop, Wildlife Biologist 

Karen began her Forest Service career as a biological technician at the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in 1988 - after completing a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Biology and serving in the Peace Corps in Nepal. Karen was interested in nature growing up, and wanted a professional career where she wouldn’t spend all day at a desk!

Karen started at Olympic National Forest as a wildlife biologist in 1989 & later took time off work to serve in the Peace Corps for a second time (Argentina and Guatemala), pursue a Masters in Science in ecology, and to care for her young children

At Olympic National Forest, Karen has worked out of Quilcene, Quinault, and Forks monitoring and helping manage habitats for a variety of species including owls, eagles, insects and elk. But the best part, she says, is working with diverse teams of people in order to manage these unique regional ecosystems. She likes seeing more women in leadership positions and enjoys the variability of the job … even the desk part!

Fish Biologist

Tammy Hoem, Fisheries Porgram Manager 

Tammy started her career 23 years ago as a water quality technician. Her dad was a fish and wildlife biologist and would take her into the field for sage grouse surveys before she could even walk! That may be part of the reason she loves being outside and learning how natural systems wor

Tammy’s career has spanned multiple agencies and states. Some of her positions have included: a fisheries biologist for Bureau of Reclamation, NOAA Science Coordinator for the Gulf Watch Alaska program, and a fisheries biologist for the State of Alaska Commercial Fisheries Division. In 2016 she joined the Forest Service as a fisheries biologist on the Tonto National Forest in Arizona.

Throughout her career Tammy has also seen changes in women’s participation. She was often the only woman in the room as a young fisheries biologist with The Bureau of Reclamation but today she is one of many women in the field, and she’s had the opportunity to mentor multiple young women in their careers as technicians and students.

Her favorite part of her job is the people & places. She acknowledges that she would not be in the position she is today without the inclusion that so many of the male teachers in her field had for students -irrespective of gender- and their passion for fisheries science. And of course, as she points out, salmon biologists get to see the most beautiful places in the world from huge rivers like the Columbia and Yukon, to headwater streams at the tops of mountains!


Betsy Howell, Wildlife Biologist

Betsy always knew she wanted to work with wildlife & started her career with the Forest Service in 1986 as a volunteer surveying for spotted owls at Mt. Hood National Forest while living in a historic cabin in Zigzag, Oregon. Betsy surveyed night & day looking for the owls and their nests. She enjoyed skiing & hiking on weekends!

Betsy was hired by the Forest Service in 1987 as a GS-5 biological technician after graduating from college. She worked with U.S. Forest Service until 1992 when she took a leave of absence to do a tour in the Peace Corps in Argentina. Then when she returned in 1995, she worked at Siskiyou National Forest until 1998 then resigned in order to learn to be a writer! After 6 years of learning the writing craft and working odd jobs, Betsy returned to the Forest Service in 2004 as a district wildlife biologist at Olympic National Forest.

Betsy loves to be in the field , it’s her favorite part of her current job. She currently works on many projects including: providing input to forest projects regarding wildlife, surveying wildlife species and implementing vital habitat improvement projects. She likes being able to observe changes on the landscape as it is crucial to making informed recommendations for forest management.