The debate

Ron Wenrich woodtick at
Mon Dec 1 07:22:05 EST 1997

Joseph Zorzin wrote:

>  Part of the problem, to
> be quite frank is that forestry education in America sucks. Many
> forestry schools should be shut down; incompetant teachers and no way
> for the students to get hands on experience. And, it's common knowledge
> that the smartest students don't usually major in forestry; it tends to
> be one of those majors that you flunk into, not out of; and this is due
> to the VERY LOW PAY SCALES of the profession; due to the low esteem the
> profession gets from brainless politicians and landowners who think they
> know so much.
> --

Low pay scales may be common when foresters start out, but after 20 yrs, pay
gets to be the same as engineers.  The initial years pay is the same whether
you are a technician or a forester, since neither have much experience.  I've
always charged enough to make at least what engineers do, and now am doing
better.  Of course, I don't depend on timber markets or landowner whims to make
my money.

Forestry was not an easy major 25 yrs ago.  We had quite a high flunk out rate,
and had smart people transfer in that couldn't cut it.  Others look at the
major as being quite simple, but in reality, we had many of the same courses as
engineers, but with more biology.  I agree that the professors weren't the
best, many not having any pracitcal experience.  Its hard to teach someone when
you don't know how the real world acts.  The problem is, we have untrained
people putting "professional" applications to land when they have no practical
knowledge.  Sometimes they never learn it.

Another problem with the profession is there is a limited amount of positions
available.  There are no jobs at the government level, unless you have a
minimum of an MS, and then you can get in as a technician.  Industrial
foresters tend to be in procurement, which often doesn't envolve much
management, mainly slash and run.  Only thing left is to go to consulting, and
without experience most work evolves to being no better than procurement
foresters.  Of course, foresters could learn a skill, such as sawing, timber
felling, lumber grading, etc and become a useful employee to a wider range of
employers.  How good would a feller be with a good understanding of forestry?
The problem isn't the degree, or the schooling; its what you do with it after
you have it.


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