Sierra Barfield

I am a Forester at Weyerhaeuser at the Snow Peak tree farm based out of Lebanon, OR. I’m an early rotation silviculture forester, which means I’m responsible for replanting a unit after it has been harvested and then managing those newly planted trees.

Sierra Barfield

As a child I loved being outside, my three younger siblings and I spent most of our childhoods playing outside, going on rafting/float trips, and going for short hikes. Outside has always been a place for me to be free and explore the wonders of the world around me. 

Once I got to high school and started thinking more critically about the subjects that interested me, I found myself most enjoying classes such as Botany, Environmental Science, Biology, Zoology, and Chemistry. At the time I knew very little about Forestry, but I always knew I would end up somewhere in a field dealing with natural resources.  

It took me until the end of my Sophomore year at MSU to realize what forestry even was and what it all involved. I had previously been an Environmental Biology/Zoology major, where my interest was in researching pollinators/ specifically honeybees. After doing a little more research about what Forestry was, I decided to make the change to it at the beginning of my Junior year. I saw a clearer career path for myself, I knew I would get to be outside, and I was drawn to the fact that forestry was both a science and art. 

I was also lightly involved with the MSU forestry club, in between working and school work. Once I graduated, I wasn't yet sure what kind of a Forester I wanted to be. Right out of college I worked for Davey Resource Group out of Indianapolis, IN as an Environmental Scientist/Specialist. I spent my time as a certified arborist traveling to various cities in the Midwest and East taking inventory of their street, park, and municipality trees. It took me a little less than a year to realize that I needed the great outdoors and not just the urban outdoor environment that I was working in. After that experience, I made my way to Weyerhaeuser where I started with the R&D department as a Production Forestry Intern. I then moved to Operations as a Forestry Intern, then as a Professional Development Forester, and now to Forester.

I am a Forester at Weyerhaeuser at the Snow Peak tree farm based out of Lebanon, OR. In other words, I'm an early rotation silviculture forester. I am responsible for replanting a unit after it has been harvested and then managing those newly planted trees for the first 4-5 years of growth. I manage about 130,000 acres with one other Forester, and an average day for me is usually spent outside visiting various units across the tree farm identifying next steps for management. Days that are spent in the office usually involve coordinating contract crews, data analysis, and collaborating with coworkers of other disciplines (i.e., engineers, harvest managers, marketing, etc.). 

Being able to spend most of my work week outside in the beautiful mountainous landscape is my favorite aspect of this job. The views never get old, but I also love being able to come up with new and more sustainable ways to manage our land. 

Being a good steward of the land and managing it in a way that is sustainable is what being a Forester means to me. The founder of our company, Frederick Weyerhaeuser, said "this is not for us, nor for our children, but for our grandchildren," and is something I think about daily.

This is my dream job, and I know this is where I will be for the foreseeable future!

My advice for people who are unsure if they'd like to pursue an education and career in forestry would be to spend time in various field jobs/internships that require you to be outside. Before I found Forestry, I had done fieldwork that required me to be outside 100% of the time, and even though it wasn't entirely Forestry related, I was able to look at the natural world around me and think about what part of being outside was calling to me most... it was the trees.

 

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