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A Day In the Life of A Forester
A Sampling of Real Michigan Foresters and the Wide Diversity of Career Paths


Tom Barnes
Executive Director
Michigan Association of Timbermen

Coming into the position of Executive Director for the Michigan Association of Timbermen, I was not really sure what to expect. What I have found though, is a very diverse job where duties vary on a daily basis. I'm still trying to figure what a typical day is for me as every day brings new challenges and experiences.

The purpose of the Association is to improve the business climate for our members and look out for their best interest. Much of my time is spent attending various meetings where I convey how proposed issues will either benefit or negatively impact our members and the forest products industry as a whole. At the same time, I reaffirm the value of the timber industry to the State of Michigan and it's economy. Often these issues are proposed legislation or regulations being imposed by a regulatory agency of our state. I work closely with the other state forestry associations to present a united front. It is vital that we have a strong and healthy relationship with both our state forestry agency and the Forest Service.

I occasionally have to travel out of state to attend a conference hosted by groups that represents the interests of those in our industry on a federal level. This not only gives me an opportunity to educate the rest of the Nation on what's happening in Michigan, but it also allows me the opportunity to learn from my peers and ultimately represent my members better.

A great deal of my time is spent with our state and congressional legislators. Within Michigan, I prepare written testimony explaining either the benefits, negative impact, or suggested changes to proposed legislation. I regularly travel to Lansing to verbally present testimony to either the Senate or House Sub-Committee dealing with the pending bill. After presenting my testimony many questions are generated and I do my best to answer them. This is where my forestry background becomes a real asset. Generally, I can provide very specific answers to the legislator's questions based on my forestry experience and educational background.

Once finished testifying, I take the opportunity to visit other key legislators and discuss what is going on in our industry as well as explain ways they might be able to help our fine industry.

I also discuss issues that can be better addressed at the national level with our congressional delegation in Washington, D.C. Typically these issues are dealing with the management of our federal forest or issues that can not be resolved within our Michigan Legislature.

As far as my educational background, I have two Bachelor Degrees one in Forest Management and the other in Wildlife Management. Additionally, I received a Masters in Forest Resource Management, or Silviculture. Although I never imagined myself being at the head of an Association, my education has provided me with most of the tools that I need for this position. The diversity of my job is tremendous. One day I could be talking with our state representatives in Lansing and the next day be in Iron Mountain discussing logging issues with our members, and then the next day in a classroom talking with schoolchildren. This is the best part of my job, every day is a little different. Although I'm not in the woods as much as I might want, my current position is a way for me to ensure that the logging and forestry professions remain a part of Michigan for generations to come.



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This website is maintained by Bill Cook, Michigan State University Extension Forester in the Upper Peninsula.  Comments, questions, and suggestions are gratefully accepted. 
Last update of this page was 11 August, 2017