Excel as a High-Performing Agency

Resource assistant gets boots on the ground

Photo: Newson in a hilltop field of flowers. Behind her are forest mountains.
Ashley Newson admires and appreciates the sweeping views of dense forests and steep terrain on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests. Photo courtesy Ashley Newson.


—From fighting fires to protecting policy, the work that the Forest Service accomplishes is just as diverse as the land itself and one intern has had the chance to see this through two unique experiences 2,470 miles apart. In June, Ashley Newson, a resource assistant based in the Washington office, left her metro card behind, picked up her hiking boots, and headed northwest to the Nez Perce Clearwater-National Forests in Idaho.

Newson started with the Forest Service in November 2017 through the Resource Assistants Program, a rigorous, immersive and paid internship for individuals interested in Forest Service careers. Since then she has worked on national level and interagency projects related to interpretation, tourism and recreation. When the opportunity to work in northern Idaho at a remote location for three months fell into place, she was thrilled at the possibility of putting her knowledge and skills to the test on the ground.

Newson is spending her summer working at Kelly Creek, a remote fire work center nestled in the canyons of the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests. While working in Idaho, she is developing the operations manual for the work center, which will include visitor frequently asked questions, inventory and operational templates, and useful information about the area. She is also assisting visitors, developing the interpretive program for the district, and shadowing Forest Service employees in other technical areas. “Being exposed to both the national level and the district level within the Forest Service has been incredibly beneficial for me. I am amazed at magnitude of work this agency accomplishes and the diverse opportunities available,” said Newson.

Whether she is recommending fishing holes or developing interpretive campfire programs, Newson’s role is to reach visitors and inspire them to become fellow stewards of their public lands. Newson enthused, “I feel very lucky to serve as the face of the Forest Service and connect people to the forests and grasslands they love through interpretation.” Newson will return to her role as a resource assistant in the Washington office in September.

Photo: Newson stands beside FOrest Service display.
Ashley Newson in front of an interpretive display on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests. Photo courtesy Ashley Newson.

Photo: Woman poses on forest trail.
Ashley Newson hikes along a popular trail on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests as part of her work developing interpretive programs and acquainting herself with the forest. Photo courtesy Ashley Newson.