Faces of the Forest Service

Meet Hannah Nadeau

June 23rd, 2017 at 3:15PM

Hannah Nadeau and colleagues pose with Smokey Bear at a charitable event.
Hannah Nadeau and colleagues pose with Smokey Bear at a charitable event. (Hannah is just right of Smokey) Photo by US Forest Service.

Hannah Nadeau first became interested in natural resource law enforcement at the age of 14 after reading an article about law enforcement park rangers in southern Utah. After working for two summers as a recreation tech and wilderness ranger on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest while attending Utah State University, she joined the U.S. Forest Service USFS Law Enforcement and Investigations team. Hannah currently works on the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest on the Brush Creek/Hayden Ranger District.

What led you to the U.S. Forest Service and when did you start working here?

When I was 14, I learned that there were natural resource law enforcement officers and I decided that’s what I wanted to be when I grew up. I spent a lot of my childhood recreating with my family on the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, so I grew up with a passion for natural resources.

When I found out that there were people who got to patrol and protect our national treasures, I was sold. While attending college, I was a seasonal worker for the Forest Service on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest which really solidified my desire to work for the agency as a law enforcement officer. In 2013 I was hired by USFS Law Enforcement and Investigations through the Pathways program and became a fulltime employee in 2014.

Hannah Nadeau with her brother in North Platte, Nebraska.
Hannah Nadeau with her brother in North Platte, Nebraska. (Nadeau family photo.)

What do you do in the U.S. Forest Service and what is your favorite part of your job?

I am a law enforcement officer on the Brush Creek-Hayden Ranger District. It’s hard to pick out one part of my job as my favorite, but I really enjoy interacting with forest visitors while I’m patrolling and talking to them about their experience on national forest lands. I try to chat with visitors as often as possible, even when I’m not enforcing Forest Service regulations.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up near Salt Lake City, and sometimes I joke that I grew up on the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest because I spent so much time fishing and hiking and camping with my family there.

Who or what inspired you growing up?

I have always been inspired by people who persisted through difficulty, especially in the service of others. Growing up, I read as many books as I could get my hands on, but my favorites were stories about historical figures who did incredibly difficult things and never gave up.

What do you like to do for fun on your free time?

I love fishing, and I try to do it as often as I can.

What is your highest personal and professional achievement?

Simply having this job is a personal achievement for me because it took a lot of hard work to get here.

In the professional context, last year I assisted with a large fire on Forest Service land. Since it occurred in a rural area, we had very limited law enforcement resources, and I had to assist with fire security coordination, the fire investigation itself, maintaining communication with multiple agencies for months, and continuing regular patrols on my district.

Keeping up with those responsibilities was a very demanding task! However, the investigation went well, fire security was maintained, and everyone went home safe. Those three things were due to a coordinated team effort and I am proud that I was able to be a part of it and play a successful role. I learned lessons that will be with me for the rest of my career.

Hannah Nadeau on a snowmobile in the Sierra Madre mountains.
Hannah Nadeau on a snowmobile in the Sierra Madre mountains. (Photo by Tracy Fluckiger.)

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

A lot of people are very unfamiliar with the Forest Service in general, although millions enjoy and use their national forests. I hope that the public can increasingly understand that the Forest Service plays a critical role in maintaining lands that they can enjoy for generations to come.

What are your future career goals?

Right now, my goals are to continue to improve my skills, knowledge, and abilities. In the future, I want to become an instructor and help other law enforcement officers develop their confidence, skills, and abilities.

Do you have any advice for someone wanting to serve their country as a U.S. Forest Service employee?

First, don’t give up. Second, be adventurous. Third, never stop learning. It often takes some time to get your ideal job in the Forest Service. Keep trying, keep improving yourself, keep learning, and be willing to move and try different jobs.