Erin Bradetich | Forester
"My favorite part of the job is that I spend 75% of my time outside. I love getting to see a forest, make a management plan for that forest,
visualize what this forest will look like in the future, and then see the results
of that management plan after it has been implemented."
Stimson Lumber Co. forester Erin Bradetich always knew she’d end up working in the woods. At just 23 years of age, she is one of Stimson’s youngest employees, but her drive to work in the woods has been present from an even younger age.
“I grew up around forestry,” Erin recounts. “My father, Doug Bradetich, is a forester with Idaho Forest Group at their Chilco location, and my grandpa was a forester also, with Louisiana-Pacific. I remember my cousins logging all the time. I also used to love going to the mill office with Dad when I was very young, maybe 5 years old. I love being in the woods and being outside, and I remember thinking ‘This’ll be me someday’ when I was 4 or 5, going to work with my dad.”
Erin’s position as Forester - Benewah Unit, means that she manages Stimson’s timberlands between St. Maries and the Potlatch-Moscow area to grow logs to run through Stimson’s lumber mills throughout the region. This means that her days are comprised of some email and office work, including sale write-ups and harvest mapping, prior to heading outside for the majority of her 9- or 10-hour workday. Once out on the ground, Erin will spend her time laying out sales on site, flagging sale boundaries, marking streams and roads, and engaging in contract administration which varies by job site.
“My favorite part of the job,” says Erin, “is that I spend 75% of my time outside. I love being in the woods, working with the loggers. I love getting to see a forest, make a management plan for that forest, visualize what this forest will look like in the future, and then see the results of that management plan after it has been implemented.”
Stimson is a family-owned company, and Erin appreciates the values that go along with that structure—primarily because of her own family’s emphasis on working in the woods.
“My dad was definitely a major mentor,” Erin shares, “as was my mom’s dad, Ron McCormick. I’ve had some other great teachers too. The guys I’ve worked with in the past have all been very valuable. I spent 2 seasons at the Idaho Department of Lands in their Sandpoint office, and I learned a lot there. Greg Simmons, Stimson’s Area Forester on the Benewah Block, has also taught me a lot.”
“We use a lot of technology in the woods,” she continues. “I use a handheld GPS unit in the field quite often to mark waypoints and to remind myself about boundaries, roads, water bodies, etc. and occasionally I will use a tablet for data recording. In the office, I use ArcMap 10.1 to create harvest maps, and I use my computer for timber sale write-ups and budgeting.”
Training and classroom time is definitely a requirement for a position like Erin’s. She has a bachelor’s degree in forest resources from the University of Idaho, and continuing education classes are important also. She still has time for hobbies, though.
“I ride horses, ski, and run half-marathons,” she relates. “I also hunt deer, and I fish . . . I do pretty much anything that gets me outside.”
Erin’s work with Stimson is rewarding, but certain aspects can also be challenging. “Right now, because I’m so young, I’m trying to catch up to the guys who have done this work for 10+ years,” Erin states. “I also push myself a little bit harder because I’m female and I want to be able to prove to them that I can keep up. I don’t feel any discrimination because I’m female, but I’m definitely a minority in the forest industry.”
“Anybody who wants to get into this line of work should get started right away, taking forestry-type classes, because having a college degree is absolutely beneficial,” she says. “In the summers, get a job with the Idaho Department of Lands, the US Forest Service, or a private company. The sooner you can start paying your dues in the brush and getting out there, the better. Communications skills are vital, so work on those, and get involved with Society of American Foresters or your school’s Logger Sports team. Get your name out there and start making connections. Do anything you can to be one step ahead of everyone else.”