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January 14th, 2020 at 7:44AM

A picture of Jorge Morales Berríos standing next to a tree on his farm holding a yellow colored fruit in his hand; the fruit is still attached to the tree.
Jorge’s love of nature and farming began as a child and continues to this day. He has a nine-acre farm on which he cultivates bananas, oranges, lemons, cocoa, and other crops. Morales family photos.

Jorge Morales Berrios grew up in a family of farmers in Naranjito, a mountain town in the middle of Puerto Rico. Since his childhood, he has enjoyed the beauty of the countryside and of the growing fields around him. This experience awoke his interest in agriculture, and to this day he keeps up the tradition of cultivating the land.

Who or what inspired you growing up?

My parents are the major influence in my life. They taught me values and gave me unconditional support and counseling that helped me reach my goals and be the person that I am today. My older brothers, uncles, and the church I attend since childhood, also played an important role in my life and formation as an individual.

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

I really enjoy traveling by car through the Island and appreciate the beauty of its mountains and coasts. It’s something that I often do during weekends. Also, farming is one of my passions. I have nine acres on which I grow bananas, oranges, lemons, cocoa, and other crops.

What do you do in the Forest Service and when did you start working here?

My career in the Forest service began in June 1991. For more than 28 years, I have worked as a librarian at the International Institute of Tropical Forestry in San Juan. We have a valuable and unique collection specializing in tropical forestry. I serve a scientific community around the world, and my major effort is focused on facilitating the transfer of technical information to satisfy the needs of researchers in this field.

What is your favorite part of the job?

Service to the public. Face-to-face interactions with people and watching their delight when they feel their information needs were fulfilled is the best part of my day-to-day work.

How has your education, background, or personal experiences prepared you for the work you do now?

I always thought that I would like to do something dedicated to serving others. With that in mind, I got a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology at the University of Puerto Rico, Cayey Campus. A few years later, I completed a master‘s degree in library science at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus.

I consider that my academic preparation in conjunction with my parents’ teachings throughout my life gave me the tools to start a professional career oriented to public service. During my graduate studies in library science, I started to develop an interest in specialized libraries. When the opportunity came up to be part of the IITF library staff, without hesitation I applied for an advertised position. This happened almost thirty years ago and since then, I’ve been part of the Forest Service family.

A picture of Jorge Morales Berríos in a library, standing between book shelves, with a book in his hand.
Jorge is a librarian at the International Institute of Tropical Forestry in Puerto Rico. He enjoys facilitating the transfer of technical information to the international scientific community. Forest Service photo /Yaneris Soto Muñiz.

Describe a professional or personal achievement that you are particularly proud of.

I’m proud to make resources from the library accessible at the highest possible level to benefit the scientific community and the public. I’ve done this by establishing an internal classification system. Thousands of documents in our collection have been catalogued and reflect in the online public access catalog, and the book collection was converted to the Library of Congress system.

On a personal level, I’m so proud to have signed a partnership contract with the Natural Resources Conservation Service to conduct conservation practices on my farm.

Why do you think your field is important?

More than important, my field is an essential tool that gives support to IITF research. The library responds every year to hundreds of information requests that are of vital importance for scientists to complete their investigations.

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

I want the public to see us as dedicated professionals with a deep vocation for public service and to see us as people who ennoble the agency with a clear concept of our mission captured in the sentence “Caring for the land and serving people”.

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

The Forest Service is an agency of first order. I’m so proud to have been part of the Forest Service family for almost thirty years.  I encourage all the people interested in starting a career in any of our work areas to apply and enjoy with us the great pleasure of serving people while protecting our greatest good: the land and its forests.