Faces of the Forest Service

Meet Virginia Jones

Office of Communication
August 30th, 2016 at 2:00PM

A photo of Virginia Jones in her Forest Service uniform
Virginia Jones says that the US Forest Service mission aligns with her core values of caring for the land. (Photo credit: Virginia Jones photos.)

The things that are most important to Virginia Jones are water, open space, recreation, the environment, wildlife and nature in general. All these things help keep her mind and body happy, fit and healthy. She wanted to work at the U.S. Forest Service because the organization aligns with many of her core values of conservation and caring for the land.

Virginia grew up in the small town of Blowing Rock, North Carolina in the Blue Ridge Mountains. As a young person she knew civil engineering was going to be her niche in life and that North Carolina State University was going to be her school of choice. Virginia was one of only four women in her 1986 graduating class and for a very long time the only female owned civil engineering site-work design company in the Carolinas.

What led you to work for the Forest Service and when did you start working here?

In October 2014, I arrived in California with my two golden retrievers, Beacon and Lilli. I had just finished up a two and a half year project for the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Phoenix, Arizona.  I am also intrigued by wildfire, something I previously didn’t know anything about. Now that I’m here, I feel like I am part of a big welcoming family that appreciates me as a person and a professional engineer.

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

I’m the Forest Engineer at Shasta-Trinity National Forest in the Supervisors Office in Redding California. I manage a group of really smart engineers and a couple of creative road crews. We are trying to maintain over 150 facilities and approximately 6,600 miles of roads. I am also a member of the leadership team that makes difficult decisions about all of our programs on the forest. Having been an entrepreneur my whole career, I bring a fresh approach to problem solving on this team which has proven to be very rewarding.

My favorite part of the job is bringing people and their skills together to design something worthwhile, going through the steps and then actually constructing it on the ground. It is amazing to watch my team work together, learn and have the feeling of accomplishment.  My “can do” attitude is contagious!

A photo of Virginia Jones on the Coconino National Forest in winter
Growing up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Virginia Jones is a passionate outdoors adventure. (Photo credit: Virginia Jones photos)

Who or what influenced you most growing up?

I grew up in North Carolina in a small town.  My father was a handyman/general contractor and my mom a shop owner. I get my business and work spirit from both of them. I worked summers in construction and learned all kinds of trades from my Dad without even realizing that I was developing skills for my businesses later in life.

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

My dogs, Beacon and Lilli, keep me pretty active hiking by the rivers, lakes and coast out here in California. I am exploring the other western states. I traveled to Hawaii this spring and I’m planning my next trip to Oregon and Washington. I absolutely love Atlantic Coast Conference sports especially football and basketball, so I’ve connected with my alumni group in the Bay Area to watch games. I owned a book store/coffee shop a few years ago so I love to read and I’m a certified barista.

What is your highest personal and professional achievement?

My highest personal achievement is being a really good daughter, sister and aunt for my family and a great boss in each of my businesses. I sincerely believe that I have been an excellent role model, coach and mentor in my professional life. I approach my work as always having fun and I really enjoy what I am doing in the moment. 

What would you like to see improved in the Forest Service?

I wish there was a forest program to rehabilitate some of the historic lookouts across the nation.  These buildings are so unique, useful and historically significant. It is very sad to see each one on the Shasta Trinity fall into disrepair due to the lack of a funding program.

What are your future career goals?

I don’t really have a plan. I have had three different businesses and a full career already. I am on a big adventure with the U.S. Forest Service here in California. For now, I have found my tribe and the place I am supposed to be.

A photo of Virginia Jones and her golden retrievers, Beacon and Lilli.
Virginia Jones and her golden retrievers, Beacon and Lilli. (Photo credit: Virginia Jones photos)

A photo of Virginia Jones stands next to a MAFFs air tanker used to fight wildfires.
A US Forest Service Civil Engineer, Virginia Jones stands next to a MAFFs air tanker used to fight wildfires. (Photo credit: Virginia Jones photos)