Voices from the Umpqua National Forest - Jaimie Olle - Journal - 6/29/2014

Jaimie OlleGrowing up in the heart of California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range, one has endless wild country to explore. Outdoor adventure is second-nature, wildlife often passes as pets and national forests get confused with backyards. My name is Jaimie Olle and I was lucky enough to be born and raised in just such a place.

I call Kernville, California and the Sequoia National Forest my hometown and home base. From an early age, I spent many days trekking along trails, exploring remote meadows and learning from my forest-seasoned parents. Coming from a family of firefighters and parents who both worked for the Forest Service, I have been surrounded by the agency my whole life. However, growing up, it was never a career that I thought I might pursue.

After graduating from high school, I moved to Seattle, Washington where I earned a double-degree in strategic communications and creative writing at Seattle University. Initially, I began college under the assumption that I would follow the traditional path into public relations. Yet, it took no more than six months in a bustling city with countless hours spent inside for me to realize that the outdoors is home. After I began scrambling to redirect my educational path, my mom suggested that I might combine my passion for writing and communicating with my love for the outside by considering a career with the Forest Service.

That simple suggestion sparked a realization as to the career path that I hope to fulfill—serving as a Public Affairs Officer for the Forest Service, as well as, a Public Information Officer for an incident management team. During the summer of 2013 I interned for the Public Affairs Officer on the Sequoia National Forest. Over the past school year, I interned for the Forest Service’s PNW Research Station, working specifically with the Urban-Wildland Interactions Team.

This summer, I am embarking on a new adventure with the Forest Service. I am working for the Diamond Lake Hand Crew out of the Toketee Ranger Station on the Umpqua National Forest. I’m still getting into swing of things, having just completed fire school last week. I am excited to learn more about a new facet of the agency. The experience that I gain here will greatly contribute to my holistic understanding of the Forest Service. Making a lifelong career with the Forest Service is my ultimate goal. I am passionate about the work that the Forest Service does and all that the agency stands for—stewardship of America’s land, the introduction of people to their outdoor places, and a legacy of commitment to protecting the greatest good for the greatest number.

While I haven’t had a chance to explore much of the Umpqua National Forest yet, I am stationed just a few miles from Toketee Falls. I took a run there on one of my first days living here. I was amazed by the grandeur of the falls—the way the geographic features are intertwined with a variety of vegetation while gemstone blue waters push forth from the mouth of the hollow rock cavern. Over the course of the summer, I hope to experience as much of the Forest as possible.

Outside of work, I love to spend my time cycling, hiking, snowboarding, playing soccer and rafting. I love to admire the world through the lens of a camera, capturing memories to gaze upon in the future. In preparing for this summer, the first thing I packed was an entire box of books—being trapped without a good read is nothing short of tragedy for me. Whenever possible, I love to be among family and friends, sharing laughs and good company in the ever-present quest to live life fully.

I hope that you’ll return here as the summer progresses to read more about my first fire season and my time here on the Umpqua National Forest. I am thrilled to be following in the boot steps of my parents, embarking upon a lifelong journey with Forest Service.