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Careers in Forestry

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From: Kristopher Vilander
Salem, IL
My son is in 9th grade and has been interested in forestry for some time. He loves the outdoors and working with wildlife. What can he do to prepare in High School? What degree does he need to be a forest ranger? Is there a college near Salem, IL, that offers a program you would recommend? How difficult is it to find work in forestry? What other suggestions would you make? Thank you, Kris

Extension Message
From: Jay Hayek
Extension Specialist, Forestry
Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences
Thank you for the excellent question!

Several Society of American Foresters (SAF) accredited universities near Salem, Illinois include Purdue University, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Individuals with forestry degrees from an accredited college or university who practice forestry are often called “foresters”. The term “forest ranger” is usually reserved for conservation law enforcement officers or individuals who provide interpretive services within public parks or forests.

Agriculture classes, botany, biology, chemistry, pre-calculus, and computer courses in high school would certainly benefit your son in college. Most forestry jobs require a bachelor’s degree from a Society of American Foresters accredited college or university. However, some positions may just require an associate’s degree, though a bachelor’s degree will likely give your son more job flexibility and potential for advancement. Given that the world’s population continues to grow and the demand for raw materials increases daily, forestry jobs have been on the rise. State, federal, county, and municipal government, along with private industry, is always hiring bright young foresters.

I had the same ambitions in high school too: a genuine love for the outdoors, hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, and exploring. Needless to say, I “cashed-in” my passion for the great outdoors and spent my college years training for a career that was – and is – truly and honestly more fun than work. My father and brothers always told me to discover a career path that would allow you to fulfill your dreams and aspirations. Luckily for me, I always new what I wanted to be – a forester. If I had to do it all over again, I would pick forestry every time!

My philosophy is this: “I love my wife, kids, family, and friends. Forestry, however, is my passion!” – Jay C. Hayek

Hope this helped answer your question!

To learn more about the forestry profession, please visit the following Web sites:

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