Young Alum of the Month: Hannah Howard

Hannah Howard
Title and Company: 
Southeast Iowa Field Coordinator, Trees Forever
Muscatine, IA
Major and Graduation Date: 
Forestry and Animal Ecology, Fall 13
Major Job/Position Responsibilities: 

I play a part in carrying out Trees Forever’s mission to plant and care for trees and the environment by empowering people, building community and promoting stewardship.  I work throughout 18 counties in southeast Iowa working with volunteers, communities and landowners to plant trees and native plants through our various programs.  As a field coordinator I work in a lot of different program areas including community forestry, buffer strips, pollinator habitat, trails, advocacy for our natural resources and planting along transportation corridors.  Whether it’s giving presentations, leading educational hikes, heading to a tree planting with volunteers, or attending conferences, travelling is a huge part of my job.  Every day brings new opportunities and challenges!

What you like most about your job/position: 

What I love most about working for Trees Forever is the variety.  One day I could be planting trees at a school with 125 first graders (which trust me, is not an easy task!) and the next day I could be working with a landowner to develop a plan for a new riparian buffer strip or patch of prairie!  Every day is different and I’m continually learning new things from the people I encounter.  I travel all over southeast Iowa working with different volunteer groups and communities.  Every volunteer has a different reason for giving back.  Everyone has so much passion to make their communities a better place and that’s really energizing to me.  It’s the volunteers that continually inspire me and make my work worthwhile. Since 1989 Trees Forever has planted over 3.4 million trees and I’m proud to be a part of that!

What advice would you give to current students: 
  • The three most important things I can pass on:  1) Join clubs in your department.  2) Meet professionals in the field.  3) Volunteer with organizations related to your major.  These three things were the most important things I did at Iowa State.  These things will be the difference between just getting an interview and getting hired.
  • Spend time meeting professionals and pick their brain.  Find out why they have been successful in their career, ask about the traits and experience they are looking for in new employees, and tell them to keep you in mind when jobs come open.  You’ll be surprised at how many people are willing to help young professionals get started.
  • When it comes to internships go outside of your comfort range, travel across the country if you have to or accept a position with lower pay if it means getting you closer to your career goals.  When you start applying for jobs, quality internships and volunteer experience will make a huge difference on your resume.

Favorite ISU Class
I had so many favorite classes, it was hard to choose! The professors in the Natural Resource Ecology and Management Department focus on learning experiences out in the field which keeps every class exciting and interesting to say the least.  Field trips to places such as Alabama and Minnesota were definite perks!  My favorite classes were the identification courses that Cathy McMullen offered including Dendrology, Forest Herbaceous Layer Ecology and Identification, and Midwestern Prairie Plants.  These are the courses that are truly applicable every single day.