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May 22nd, 2020 at 1:00PM

Daisy Morgan and Will George perform a collaborative puppet show written and directed by them about the dangers of plastic to ocean biomes to local youth in Newport, Oregon. Photo by an unknown member of the public.
Daisy Morgan and Will George perform a collaborative puppet show written and directed by them about the dangers of plastic to ocean biomes to local youth in Newport, Oregon. Photo by an unknown member of the public. (Photo courtesy of Daisy Morgan.)

Daisy Morgan grew up along the woodlands and sand dunes of Lake Michigan, in the northern Chicago suburbs. Then, when a young adult, she moved to New Mexico. Although both places have shaped her life, Daisy says New Mexico is where she really feels at home.

Daisy’s first exposure to the USDA Forest Service was in 2006 while she was studying conservation biology at the University of New Mexico. She was offered a position as an assistant education manager for the Respect the Rio program on the Santa Fe National Forest and returned for another season in 2009. A few years later she was a fellow in the Resource Assistant Program with a Forest Service partnering organization called Mobilize Green, serving in the Southwestern Regional Office, Recreation, Heritage, and Wilderness Resources program. It was in the Southwestern region that she successfully obtained a permanent job with the Forest Service.

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

I’m the Southwestern Regional Volunteer and Service Program Coordinator, a position that has many aspects to it. I love being able to shift from different scales of work, looking at the big picture while also looking at how the individual pieces support the whole, “seeing the forest through the trees”. I enjoy helping people, whether it’s connecting them to the right volunteer opportunity, helping them find job opportunities, or supporting our employees navigate all of the roles and responsibilities of hosting volunteer and service programs. I love listening to the diverse voices of our employees, volunteers, partners, and youth.

Who or what inspired you growing up?

The outdoors. I now appreciate that I had the freedom to have plentiful unstructured outdoor time with and without parental supervision. This freedom allowed me to cultivate my relationship with nature from early on. What’s more, I’m inspired by my adoptive family, how they are connected to their ancestral homelands, how they show great care and respect for one another, including all things on the planet. They have taught me how to listen to all of our relatives, the plants, animals, water, sky, earth, fire, seasons, the elders, ourselves, and each other.

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

I like to volunteer on projects that support youth. Currently I’m on an advisory board with an international organization that is bringing education to rural villages in Uganda, a grassroots effort started by the Ugandan locals.

What is your highest personal and professional achievement?

Daisy Morgan exploring Cactus Cave on the Gila National Forest.
Daisy Morgan exploring Cactus Cave on the Gila National Forest. Forest Service Photo/Laura Rosales.

Ten years ago, I supported and mentored youth in Silver City, New Mexico, in putting together a Community Roundtable at the Historic Silco Theater to lead the discussion on climate change with their political leaders and the community, which was a wonderful opportunity for those youth to present their voice in their community. One of my favorite personal achievements is writing, recording, and performing music that was played on New York City radio.

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

Both of my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees are in interdisciplinary sciences, and I love the intersection of different disciplines. I also enjoy switching back and forth between the macro and micro scales, narrowing and broadening your perspectives to gain understanding. I spent fifteen years working with New Mexico youth, teaching them STEAM and civics through place based projects that included student written legislation that was introduced (and sometimes passed) each year into the New Mexico legislature. That opportunity provided me with a lot of years of getting to know what’s important to the communities of New Mexico and how land changes affect them. This has prepared me well for my current role with volunteers, youth service corps, Veterans, partners, and the public.

Describe a recent, current, or upcoming project that you’re currently working on.

The Southwestern Regional Partnership Team is working on the development of a living Youth Engagement Strategy. We’ve led many World Café style discussions with a number of Forest Service staff, partners, and youth crews to listen to their voices on how they would like the Forest Service to engage with youth. We hope to have the strategy completed in 2020 and it’s been exciting to be a part of this team.

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

I hope that the public would take an active role in our work, to really help us be a strong partner within their communities, and feel welcomed to join us in our responsibility of caring for the land. I would hope that the public would not feel separate from us, but feel interconnected to us and the work we are doing.

What are your future career goals?

One goal I have is to become a Certified Guide for Forest Therapy and help others feel the healing benefits of our forests and natural spaces. I’m interested in how truth telling, reconciliation, historical/generational trauma affects us and how Forest Therapy can aide in the healing.

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

Connect with us through volunteering, which is a great foot in the door to networking, skills building, and access to the variety of opportunities within the Forest Service. Seek out Forest Service staff mentors and champions to help guide you to your amazing potential.