A love of the outdoors led Thomas Moreland to the USDA Forest Service, and his personal experience obtaining two patents inspired his desire to help others work through the patenting process. As the new technology transfer coordinator for the Agency’s Research and Development program, he will be the liaison between Forest Service scientists and technology developers and other Forest Service units, USDA groups, and others Federal agencies.
What led you to the Forest Service and when did you start working here?
I started as a Forest Service employee in May of 2017. Prior to that, I worked under an interagency agreement with the Forest Products Lab supporting the development of all their intellectual property agreements for two and a half years.
I also worked for the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) for 15 years and supported the patent and licensing program on Forest Service agreement intellectual property (IP) issues. It was during this time that I learned to appreciate the Forest Service patent licensing model. Plus, the researchers at ARS always commented on how the people at the Forest Service were great to work with, so I really wanted to make the move to the Forest Service. Before joining USDA, I worked at the University of Maryland College of Agriculture for 23 years.
What do you do in the Forest Service and what is your favorite part of your job?
As the Technology Transfer Coordinator I will be responsible for supporting grants and agreements in the development of intellectual property agreements and running the patent/licensing program and support marketing. My goal is to support technology transfer activities for our research and development program and the Agency where appropriate and to coordinate with other deputy areas as needed.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Washington, D.C. but my family moved to Maryland when I was six years old. I lived in Maryland until 2006, when I moved back to what I consider my real home in the state of Pennsylvania. My grandparents had a dairy farm in western Pennsylvania, and from the time I was nine years old until I turned 21 I was there when not in school.
Who or what inspired you growing up?
I would have to say my father for his love of the outdoors and my grandfather for his love of the land and agriculture. Both loved to hunt, and my father and I have spent many hours together fishing.
What do you like to do for fun on your free time?
These days I own 81 acers of forest land in western Pennsylvania surrounded by rivers and hiking trails. I love hunting and fishing with my grandsons and hiking with my wife. I coached youth soccer for over 10 years, so I still like watching area youth soccer games.
What is your highest personal and professional achievement?
My highest personal achievement is my family: my wife, two daughters, two sons-in-law, five grandsons, and one granddaughter.
My highest professional achievement was working through the process of receiving of two patents, then abandoning both to finally move the technology to market. This was not only a big accomplishment but also a great learning opportunity that helped prepare me for the work I need to accomplish now.
How would you like the public to perceive the work we do at the Forest Service?
I want people to know that their tax dollars are spent wisely to support the Forest Service for their benefit. People tell me all the time they do not know what most government agencies do, but forests are all around for people to enjoy. I hope I can help move forward needed technologies that will help make the forests even more enjoyable and sustainable.
What are your future career goals?
For the last five to seven years of my career, my goal has been to streamline the program I’ve managed to be more helpful to those in the Forest Service I support and work with. Now I am with the agency and in the position I want to finish my career with.
Do you have any advice for someone wanting to serve their country as a Forest Service employee?
The Forest Service is a great place to work with excellent opportunities to grow. I’ve received a number of requests from colleagues in the government asking that I let them know if I hear of any jobs openings so they can also join the Forest Service. I tell them to look at the videos and photos on the Forest Service web page to really understand why this is the place to work.