Preston Durham, senior Forest Resource Management major, attained an internship with the USDA National Forest Service last summer. Read about his experience and advice for other students below.
How did you choose your major?
I have always believed managing forests in a sustainable manner is something that is essential to our society today, not only considering the economic implications but also the social and environmental well being of our nation and ultimately the world. I also enjoy being outdoors and in the woods.
How did you attain the internship you had?
I applied for my internship in Baton Rouge, LA at the National SAF Conference. After being called back and interviewing I was offered the position in Arkansas.
What is the biggest lesson you took away from your internship?
I learned that even though most of my studies are geared toward various forested ecosystems and their relationships. If there is going to be any success in these systems strong human relationships must first be established. Nothing will get done if different people are not working in one accord.
What is your dream job?
My dream job is to research various fire management strategies and their effects in the South Eastern United States while being a fire fighter. Building a diverse network, time management, and maintaining a strong devotion to my values and beliefs will help me achieve this.
Who in your field do you admire?
Dr. Don Hagan would be the person I look up to the most. He is passionate about what he does and selfless. He taught me about all of the tree and shrub species I know today.
What is something you enjoy outside of the classroom?
I enjoy driving without a map in a mountain range, getting lost, and then spending a few days out in the thick of things. I'm also section hiking the Appalachian Trail. My plan is to keep going every weekend until the drive takes longer than the hike.
Any advice to current or prospective students?
If opportunity presents itself, take it, don't conform to the norm, respect the knowledge of your professors, but don't discount your own intelligence. Life's a garden- dig it.
This has been edited for length and clarity.