06 March 2021

A Reflective Perspective

Just shy of six months ago, I sat in my very first meeting with the largest Fire and Aviation Management division on the West Coast.

The Forest Service, best known for its lovable mascot Smokey the Bear, might be best compared to as an iceberg—a familiar lump on the surface of the water, the sea hiding the full extent of its reach. As I listened to seasoned civil servants talk in this meeting, I heard topics fly-by such as wildfire management, discussions with the White House administration, and new technology that will improve the effectiveness of fire response. For a moment, my focus alienated away from the conversation; a wave of imposter syndrome came over me. Had I clawed my way into the wrong field?

Initially, I was overwhelmed with the size and complexity of the Forest Service. In September, deep in the bowels of a dark and tragic year, I jumped into this job unaware of what I were to expect. After all, I had just graduated college, and I certainly did not study wildfire management. I felt discouraged. I had adjusted to so many new endeavors already, this felt like another hurdle in the midst of a tough time. As I sat in a meeting just this past Thursday, I noticed that I interject my points into the conversation with knowledge of Forest Service. As I reflect upon September, and compare my progress to now, I realize that no one joins the Forest Service fully aware of the job they’ve signed up for. The Forest Service can and will surprise you. And after some time, you’ll surprise yourself.

I believe that my supervisor also sees that progress, since my stay was extended by six months. I look forward to continuing my journey with the agency, and am extremely pleased to have the freedom of assisting in so many ways with the Forest Service. I have heard from my peers and superiors that my writing and editing skills have been of great help. The Forest Service needed a writer—they just did not know it. I hope that I can demonstrate how important this skillset is for the agency. I believe that all correspondence, public releases, and official documents should represent the Forest Service in the best way—with the strongest writing possible.

Unrelatedly, I find myself a collector of Smokey the Bear merchandise. You’d be surprised at how many local shops carry Smokey shirts and sweaters. Yes, that is a photo of me in a Smokey sweater. I might be a bigger fan of the Forest Service than the Forest Service.

Agency: U.S Forest Service

Program: Resource Assistant Program (RAP)

Location: Wildland Fire Training Center

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