I grew up on a dairy farm in western New Hampshire where
my family owned about 200 acres of forestland. I spent a
lot of time as a kid hiking and working
in the woods and as a result, developed a very strong bond with the land and
natural environments in general. When I was in high school my dad hired a consulting
forester to develop a forest management plan for the farm. I tagged along with
the forester for a bit and remember thinking that would be a pretty neat way
to make a living.
I went on to study forestry at the University of New Hampshire
with an emphasis
on forest management. But, it wasn’t until I returned to complete a master’s
degree that I became exposed to the emerging role of geospatial technologies
such as geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing, and global positioning
systems (GPS) in natural resources. I found the technologies themselves fascinating,
and it was easy to see the applications to forestry.
If someone had asked me to
characterize my ideal job, I think I would have described something very similar
to what I am doing right now with the USDA Forest Service – working
for a natural resource-related organization using exciting new technologies to
solve critical, real-world problems. Our field office’s area of service
includes all of New England and New York so I have the opportunity to become
involved in a wide variety of types of projects covering very different issues
in different geographic locations.
Geospatial technologies allow us to integrate,
organize, and visualize information in ways that would be impossible otherwise
and so are invaluable in helping us
to understand and address many of our most pressing environmental issues.