Excel as a High-Performing Agency

Wayne National Forest investing in the next generation of conservationists

OHIOWayne National Forest is recruiting diverse applicants and hiring new employees through the USDA Forest Service Resource Assistants program.

This is a rigorous, immersive, paid internship for individuals interested in Forest Service careers. RAs work under the supervision of Forest Service staff to complete mission-critical work that demonstrates leadership, critical thinking and strategic communication. Through direct training, experience and exposure, RAs gain the tools to launch their natural and cultural resource careers.

By partnering with various organizations, the Eastern Region of the Forest Service has 33 RAs serving across the region. On the Wayne National Forest, 7 of these RAs are being provided with developmental opportunities, while performing meaningful work.

Kathleen Gabler, a recent graduate from Ohio University, is one of the RAs who have been employed on the Wayne National Forest. “I’ve had the opportunity to assist with groundbreaking work to control and remove an invasive tree species called tree of heaven, or Ailanthus altissima,” she said.

Dan Giannamore was one of the first RAs to be hired on the Forest. His work as a member of the Forest Plan Revision Team led to a permanent position. “The program gave me the experience I needed to meet the qualifications for my position,” he stated. “It was a great way to start my career.”

Chamiya Bruner is another former RA who has a permanent position as a Realty Specialist. She was hired after working for the Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Region, coordinating programs with partners to connect with urban youth. “My experience helped me learn about the agency’s mission and culture. I was able to network with other employees to find my current position,” she said.

Upon the completion of 960 hours in the program, RAs become eligible to apply for internal jobs that are only open to current federal employees. This helps hiring managers develop the next generation of conservationists and simultaneously evaluate their suitability for future employment with the Forest Service before making a permanent commitment.

From left, Resource Assistant Dan Giannamore and Wildlife Biologist Patrick Mercer shown reviewing management areas on the Wayne National Forest as members of the Forest Plan Revision Team. Forest Service photo by Gary C. Chancey.