Faces of the Forest Service

Meet Cindy Miner

March 29th, 2018 at 8:45AM

A picture of Cindy Miner with the Black Forest of Germany in the back ground.
Active in the International Union of Forest Research Organizations, of which the agency is a member, Cindy Miner partook in a field tour of the Black Forest in Germany in 2017. (Photo by Tony Hunn.)

While growing up in northern Minnesota, Cindy Miner lived in Duluth, camped on the Superior National Forest, canoed in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, and took extended vacations across Montana. Farm and ranch work as a teenager gave her an appreciation of rural life. Her father and mother taught her to take in the beauty of nature each day: the color of the sunset, the reflection found on the water, or the shape of a leaf. Avid outdoors people, her grandparents passed along a strong land and work ethic, which extended for Cindy into public service.


What do you like to do for fun in your free time?
I can’t get enough of hiking and cross-country! I love to garden and am just learning to paint. But my all-time favorite pastime is reading. Right now I am reading HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Teams, a collection articles from the Harvard Business Review, and In the Company of Cheerful Ladies by Alexander McCall Smith.


What do you do in the USDA Forest Service and when did you start working here?
As assistant station director for communications and applications at the Pacific Northwest Research Station, I focus on strategic communications, relationship building, and development of a host of products and projects toward the use of science. I help lead the station in our Agency’s research and development mission and contribute to the overall management of the station. My first Forest Service job was in 1975. I pulled spruce budworms out of tiny Douglas-fir needles in a study that helped establish the use of a biological control now used as standard practice.


What is your favorite part of your job?
Working with talented, energetic, and super-bright people who are experts in communicating about science. I especially enjoy it when we come up with new ideas and persevere through thick and thin to see those ideas come to fruition.

A picture of Cindy Miner standing next to very large diameter tree.
Cindy Miner hiking is a favorite pastime, here on the Deschutes National Forest. (Photo by Eini Lowell.)

I also like stepping back and marveling at the influence that our Research and Development program has had in shaping forests for the better in this country and throughout the world. Planting and harvesting practices, ecosystem management, wood products development, recreation planning, fire management, and much more that is taken for granted every day in the Agency are based on science from our research and development.


How has your education, background, or personal experiences prepared you for the work that you do now?
My undergraduate degree in silviculture and ecology and master’s degree in journalism and mass communications shaped my career. My early experiences marking timber, fighting fire, clearing trails, laying out timber sales, and developing silvicultural prescriptions grounded me in forestry and gave me physical stamina to boot. I also served as an extension forester in the Peace Corps in Ecuador and found invaluable perspective on most matters in my life, including forestry.

In graduate school, my pursuits included science writing, publishing, and studying how people come to use new concepts, practices, and tools. Everett Roger’s book Diffusion of Innovations set me up particularly well in helping people use science information and technology developed by R&D.

But it is the love of learning that most helped me in my career. And one cannot work with scientists without being infused with their enthusiasm to learn more.


Describe a recent, current, or upcoming project that you’re currently working on.
Many of us at the Pacific Northwest and Pacific Southwest Stations are developing a synthesis of the science for the Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) area. After working at the request of the regional foresters in Regions 5 and 6 for the past two years, we are near completion of this project. The synthesis examines current science across biological, ecological, and social sciences—addressing key questions posed by land managers as they look to plan for the future.


Describe a professional or personal achievement that you are particularly proud of.
I served on the Forest Ecosystem and Management Assessment Team 25 years ago that developed the scientific basis for the NWFP.  It is particularly satisfying to be part of the current NWFP synthesis effort to look at science since then. As a forester, one works with a constant eye to the future, so being part of something that spans decades and builds knowledge for improved stewardship of forests is unbelievably rewarding.


A picture of Cindy Miner standing in front a background signage that displays the Pacific Northwest Research Station with the Forest Service insignia.
Miner is the assistant station director for communications and applications at Pacific Northwest Research Station. (Photo by Jason Blake.)

How would you like the public to perceive the work we do at the Forest Service?

I would like the public to perceive us as a credible source of science information on which to base decisions about forests and grasslands—including on federal, state, and other public, private, and tribal lands.


Do you have any advice for someone wanting to serve their country as a Forest Service employee?
Let your unique value point the way. Expand your horizons in concert with others to make stewardship of the land better where ever you are in the agency. Need inspiration? Get out and enjoy the beauty of nature!