"It's very satisfying to help family forest owners, understand and apply basic
forestry principles and then to see such a positive difference on the landscape."
More than 2 million acres of Idaho's forests (about 11%) are owned and managed by private landowners.
In northern Idaho Chris Schnepf is the "go-to" guy for many of those family forest owners.
"Each landowner has unique goals for his or her forest property, ranging from timber income to simply
"a place to get away from it all." explains Schnepf, "However, one goal common to most is a desire
to steward their forest land, for their own goals and future generations."
And that's where the University of Idaho extension forester comes in. Armed with a master's degree
in forestry and an abundance of forest-related job experiences, Schnepf helps to educate and
empower those working with the land to use environmentally responsible forestry practices to
meet their objectives.
His resume is impressive: "....trapped porcupines, selected genetically superior trees (and climbed
them to collect cones), fought fires, marked timber sales, conducted stocking surveys, managed
4-H programs, collected data for research projects...." the list goes on.
"After working seasonal forestry jobs for a few years, I decided I wanted to do something that would allow
me to be more creative and to work with people, perhaps in education, " reflects Schnepf. The opportunity
to help educate landowners who didn't know about the basic forestry principles that have been understood
by foresters for many years, made university extension work a natural fit."
Since coming to Coeur d'Alene in 1991, Schnepf has designed and managed many of the
educational programs and services offered by Extension -- including newsletters,
workshops and short courses on a wide variety of forestry topics, --all intended to
help family forest owners and those who work with them strengthen their forest
"I've lost count of the number of presentations and workshops, articles
and publications and videos I've produced, all on forestry and silviculture,"
says Schnepf. "but it's most gratifying when people tell me how much
they learned in an Extension short course and how they're applying
that to their land."
If you're interested in a forestry extension career a background in
applied forest ecology, training in adult education theory and practice,
critical thinking and writing skills, and the usual computer
competencies are all very helpful. "As well as the ability to work
and play well with others," adds Schnepf.
Within the natural resources field, it's important to get exposure
to a broad array of topics and then to go into depth in one
discipline, such as forestry. "Participate in as many varied
life experiences and study as many fields as you can to
have a basis to discern what you enjoy the most,
advises Schnepf. And know that if you enjoy an area
and find it meaningful, then you'll certainly have a better
career than if you choose your profession based primarily
on how much it pays."
Want to know more?
º Idaho Extension Service
º What is Extension?
º Cooperative State Research, Education & Extension Service
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Idaho Forest Products Commission
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