Wayne National Forest Investing in the Next Generation of Conservationists

Release Date: Jul 31, 2018  

Contact(s): Gary C. Chancey, Public Affairs Officer (740) 753‐0862


NELSONVILLE, Ohio (July 31, 2018) – The Wayne National Forest is recruiting diverse applicants and hiring new employees by using the USDA Forest Service Resource Assistants (RA) Program.

This is a rigorous, immersive, paid internship for individuals interested in Forest Service careers. RAs work under the supervision of Forest Service staff to complete mission-critical work that demonstrates leadership, critical thinking, and strategic communication. Through direct training, experience, and exposure, RAs gain the tools to launch their natural and cultural resource careers.

Two men discuss the USDA Forest Service Resource Assistants (RA) Program

(Left to Right) Resource Assistant Dan Giannamore and Wildlife Biologist Patrick Mercer are shown reviewing management areas on the Wayne National Forest as members of the Forest Plan Revision Team. Forest Service photo by Gary C. Chancey

By partnering with various organizations, the Eastern Region of the Forest Service has 33 RAs serving across the region. On the Wayne National Forest, 7 of these RAs are being provided with developmental opportunities, while performing meaningful work.

Greening Youth Foundation is one of nine organizations nationally that partners with the Forest Service to assist in implementing the RA program.

“We work with land management agencies to provide internships and create pathways to conservation careers.” said Director of Programs Eboni Preston with the Greening Youth Foundation. “Our organization works with diverse and underserved young people to develop responsible environmental stewards. We build ongoing relationships with individuals to help them transition to the job force after graduation.”

Kathleen Gabler, a recent graduate from Ohio University, is one of the RAs who have been employed on the Wayne National Forest. “I’ve had the opportunity to assist with groundbreaking work to control and remove an invasive tree species called tree of heaven, or Ailanthus altissima,” she said.

Dan Giannamore was one of the first RAs to be hired on the Forest. His work as a member of the Forest Plan Revision Team led to a permanent position. “The program gave me the experience I needed to meet the qualifications for my position,” he stated. “It was a great way to start my career.”

Chamiya Bruner is another former RA who has a permanent position as a Realty Specialist. She was hired after working for the Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Region, coordinating programs with partners to connect with urban youth. “My experience helped me learn about the agency’s mission and culture. I was able to network with other employees to find my current position,” she said.

Upon the completion of 960 hours in the program, RAs become eligible to apply for internal jobs that are only open to current federal employees. This helps hiring managers develop the next generation of conservationists and simultaneously evaluate their suitability for future employment with the Forest Service before making a permanent commitment.

“Through collaboration, coaching and mentorship, we are assisting RAs to gain the tools to launch their careers and expand their understanding of our Nation’s natural and cultural resources, “said Lori Swiderski, partnership coordinator for the Forest Service’s Eastern Region. “It enables the Forest to help meet our commitment to excel as a high-performing agency.”

For more information, visit our website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/wayne. Follow the Wayne National Forest on Twitter @waynenationalfs and Facebook.

The U.S. Forest Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a mission of sustaining the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The Forest Service’s Eastern Region includes twenty states in the Midwest and East, stretching from Maine, to Maryland, to Missouri, to Minnesota.  There are 17 national forests and one national tallgrass prairie in the Eastern Region. For more information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/R9.

The U.S. Forest Service manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live. For more information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/.

###

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (toll-free customer service), (800) 877-8339 (TDD), or (800) 845-6136 (TDD in Spanish).