Forester Friday features an Oregon forester with an interesting or unique connection to the forestry field. This series is meant to highlight and recognize these stories.
What if you could turn your passion for the outdoors into a career? That’s what Kat Olson did.
For the past nine years, Olson has been the lead silviculturist at. According to the US Forest Service, is the “art and science of controlling the establishment, growth, composition, health and quality of forests and woodlands to meet the diverse needs and values of landowners and society,” such as providing wildlife habitat and producing timber.
Olson describes her responsibilities at Greenwood Resources as managing “everything related to reforestation after timber harvest on 140,000 acres. This includes but is not limited to the planning and management involved with planting over 2 million seedlings every year.”
Olson grew up in a small community where the timber industry played an important role in the economy and the culture. “My father is a forester and while he never pushed me to pursue forestry, he encouraged me to fully embrace my natural love of the outdoors and interest in his profession,” she says.
Education also played a significant role in Olson’s journey to becoming a forester. During her sophomore year of high school, she took a forestry course at the local Oregon State University (OSU) extension office. She says that experience solidified her goal of becoming a forester. After high school, she obtained an associate of applied science degree in forest resources technology from Central Oregon Community College. She then transferred to OSU and earned a bachelor’s degree in forest management.
“After graduation I was able to land a summer job back home at a local forestry office [for Greenwood Resources],” Olson says. “When the fall came, I talked them into keeping me, as I like to say. I have been here ever since.”
For this profile, Olson answered a series of questions through email about her forestry story. Here are some of her responses:
What is your favorite part about your job? Being outside and always learning something new. Even after nine years, my job is never boring. Nature is dynamic and we are always encouraged to keep up with the latest science and technology and try new things to ensure that we are managing our forests in the most sustainable way possible.
Why did you decide to work in forestry? Initially it was the notion of being able to spend my days working in the woods, my favorite place to be. I have since discovered that I also love working with the people in this industry. People who work in the woods are salt-of-the-earth types. They care about the land, and it’s good to feel like we are working together as a collective whole to provide a much-needed resource, supply living-wage jobs, and ensure that healthy forests and watersheds are here for generations to come.
What is something you want people to know about your job and/or the impact of your job? Sustainably managed forests can and do provide for a wide range of needs and values. There is a whole lot that goes into managing forests, and Oregon has some of the most progressive forestry laws in the nation. Foresters live in the communities in which we work. We are passionate about what we do and we care about the environment.
What is your favorite outdoor activity in Oregon? Hiking, camping and hunting with my family. I guess that’s three things.
Silvicululture is just one of the many forestry roles that are important to Oregon forestry, and to keeping our forests healthy.
If you know an Oregon forester with an interesting or unique story we should share, email OFRI Social Media Intern Autumn Barber at.