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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

Dr. Ray Miller
Research Forester
Station Manager
Michigan State University

A research forest is a place where forest scientists try to solve problems that woodland owners and managers have. This might include finding tree species and varieties that grow faster and are healthier than local trees. It might also involve finding ways to improve wildlife habitat or maintain healthy forest ecosystems. The research forest manager must ensure that the staff, equipment, facilities, and research plots are all working together to answer these questions.

A day might begin with a field staff meeting to set out the work to be completed that day including a review of equipment maintenance and safety training records to ensure that work can be completed in a timely and safe manner. Later the manager will need to plan future work schedules and ensure that the necessary supplies have been ordered to keep projects on schedule.

A portion of each day is devoted to preparing and overseeing contracts with vendors and loggers who carry out some of the specialized work required on various projects. This often involves preparing maps of study sites using advanced Global Positioning Systems and Geographic Information Systems. These maps can be used by contractors to ensure that they stay within the area where they are applying treatments and can serve as a permanent record of work done on the research forest.

A research forest manager also spends time talking with forest landowners, agency specialists, and forest industry representatives to identify specific problems that need solutions. The manager then works with other scientists to design appropriate studies and to provide the equipment, personnel, and funding to bring the project to completion. When new information is available, the manager writes articles and reports and often participates in public meetings to share the results with interested people.



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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 18 April, 2006