Forester Friday: Whitney Schimke
08.27.2019

Forester Friday features an Oregon forester with an interesting or unique contribution to the forestry field. This series is meant to highlight and recognize these stories.

For Whitney Schimke, being in the outdoors and keeping Oregon’s forests healthy are two of her favorite parts of being a forester.

Whitney is a forester for a small family-owned timber company, Silver Butte Timber Company, which is based out of Riddle, Ore. Whitney manages 45,000 acres of timberland in Coos, Douglas and Jackson counties. Silver Butte is the timber company associated with C&D Lumber.

Whitney has many responsibilities. “Working for a small company, you get to do it all! I get to participate in all aspects of timberland management, from start to finish. I design roads and administer road construction, I participate in inventory, design harvest units and prescriptions, administer logging contracts, and I am in charge of all aspects of reforestation: from seed collection to planting, herbicide application, to thinning!”

Whitney in the forest with her dog.

Whitney has been in this position for just under five years. In addition to her experience, education played an important role in her becoming a forester. She studied forestry at Humboldt State University.

“Prior to moving to Oregon for this position, I was a reforestation forester for Roseburg Forest Products and an inventory forester for SPI in northern California. When I was in college, a mentor told me ‘To become a great forester, everyone needs to spend time cruising and in regeneration,’ and boy, was he right!”

Whitney holding a tree seedling.

For this profile, Whitney 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? My favorite part of the job changes with each season! In the spring, I love the satisfaction of a planting program coming to fruition; all these seedlings you have had such big hopes for are finally in the ground, and then you get the excitement of preparing a perfect herbicide prescription tailored to each unit. In the summer, I love to administer harvest and road building operations. Interacting with loggers and learning from the contractors on the ground is such a great experience. Fall brings fun challenges, finishing jobs before the rain comes, and site prep spraying transitions into PCT (pre-commercial thinning) season, which is instant satisfaction. And of course, winter means burning, and coming home smelling like smoke is a treat for anyone.

What drove you or why did you decide to work in forestry? I come from a family of foresters! I’m actually a third-generation forester, so naturally, I swore I would never become a forester. I originally went to school with dreams of becoming a landscape architect, but karma won and here I am. My mom was a forester, my dad a geologist; and they tell me that I could identify trees before I could tie my shoes. I really do believe that foresters have “pitch in their veins,” and that enthusiasm for intentional, thoughtful management of forests is important.

What is something you want people to know about your job, and or the impact of your job? I think the most important thing I try to tell people about forestry is that “foresters are the original environmentalists.” I care deeply about the land I manage and make very intentional decisions that I know make long-term impacts. Foresters are thoughtful and consider all resources in the forest.

What is your favorite outdoor activity in Oregon? Does drinking wine count? Honestly, I love to spend time outside. I spend many weekends backpacking with friends, floating the rivers, kayaking, snowshoeing and hunting. My favorite places to hunt are on the lands I also manage, that full circle-of- life awareness is something pretty special.

Whitney is just one of many Oregon foresters who enjoy the outdoors and the way their jobs allow them to help forests in Oregon remain healthy.

If you know an Oregon forester with an interesting or unique story we should share, email OFRI Social Media Intern Autumn Barber at barber@ofri.org.

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