Dillon Halvorsen | Forester
“There are opportunities with companies all over the country. In my experience, the people who got internships got hired, usually by the company they interned with. If you can put on a resume that you did a year or two as an intern, employers really like that.”
Coming from the family ranch in Santa, Idaho, 24-year-old Dillon Halvorsen seemed to always know that a job in the woods was in his future.
“My parents’ ranch was 540 acres, and approximately 200 acres of that is timberland,” recalls Dillon. “Throughout different periods of my childhood, my family logged that land. We did several selective harvests, and one 70-acre clear-cut which we replanted.”
“I grew up here, and went to school at Fernwood and St. Maries—big logging areas,” Dillon continues. “My parents weren’t really involved in the forestry industry, but almost all my friends’ parents were in the industry in some way.”
Now a Resource Forester II with Potlatch, based in Headquarters, Dillon is one of many Potlatch foresters who are responsible for post-harvest tree-planting, spraying, and checking the quality of the log inventory on Potlatch’s Clearwater District. Dillon is also responsible for a portion of the harvest unit layout and budgeting/appraisal on the District, which is comprised of Potlatch land north of Orofino, east of Dworshak and south of the North Fork of the Clearwater River.
The decision to try for a job with Potlatch was an easy one. According to Dillon: “When I was growing up, I had several family friends who were Potlatch foresters, and they encouraged me to pursue forestry if I thought it was really something that I wanted to do. They were all great mentors to me, as were my friends’ dads who would point out different tree species and share forestry information whenever we were out camping or cutting firewood. Also, the everyday conversations that people have about logging and hauling and working at the mill—those influenced me also.”
Dillon has worked full-time with Potlatch since January 2012, and worked for the company as an intern prior to that. “As an intern, I did field work, cruising, harvest layout, pre-commercial thin layout, and a little bit of planting inspection and harvest administration. I really learned a lot.”
“I can’t say enough good things about getting an internship with a company,” Dillon emphasizes. “There are opportunities with companies all over the country. In my experience, the people who got internships got hired, usually by the company they interned with. If you can put on a resume that you did a year or two as an intern, employers really like that. Not only do you have your college degree, but employers can say that they were able to train you and give you the basics. The schooling is important, but the internship is key.”
Dillon attended the University of Idaho and has a bachelor’s degree in
Forest Products Operations, with minors in Forest Resources and Fire Ecology. In addition to his degree, he has received a lot of on-the-job training.
“A lot of this job is learned on the job, as far as learning about log quality, chemical training, and things like that. I’ve gotten some informal training in log scaling also,” he states.
Potlatch owns about 800,000 acres in Idaho. The company is publically traded, so there are investors who receive dividend payments each quarter. Anybody can buy stock in Potlatch.
“As a company, our task is to come up with dividends for the investors so they can get a return on their investment,” Dillon explains. “The dividends come directly from cutting timber and hauling logs to mills so that they can be made into lumber, paper, cedar products, utility poles, etc.”
Sometimes, Dillon’s job can be challenging. “Contractor management can be a little tricky,” Dillon remarks. “My company has a goal in mind, and the contractor obviously has a goal in mind for themselves too, and the negotiation, coming to a point where we both get what we need, can be difficult.”
He chuckles: “This job definitely takes good people skills.”
Despite the challenges, Dillon is passionate about his work. “I love everything about my job,” he says. “I enjoy the field work, the harvest layout, the project management and the planning end of things, scheduling volume for contractors, dealing with where we are going to harvest and the projects that follow, like spraying, burning, hazard management, and so on.”
“I just enjoy being out in the woods. I hunt, fish, hike, and backpack. I like target shooting and 4-wheeling. I’m pretty fortunate to be able to work in the woods too.”