Name: Michael Parker
Hometown: Dike, IA
Major and Graduation Date: Forestry, December 2018
Favorite ISU Class: While not a single class, I would say the 200 series during my sophomore year. The 200 series is an entire semester of classes that all 2nd-year forestry students take during the fall. It creates a sound foundation of forestry knowledge and skills that help prepare you moving forward with your education and career. The series includes a three-week field course located in a varying region of the country each year—my class went to the Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center near Andalusia, Alabama.
Job Title & Company: Smokejumper, United States Forest Service
Major Job/Position Responsibilities: I work for the West Yellowstone Smokejumper Base located in West Yellowstone, Montana. We are a national wildland fire fighting resource. While we primarily respond to fires in Central/Eastern Montana, Western Wyoming, and Eastern Idaho, we can respond anywhere in the country. We specialize in rapid initial attack of wildfires in remote areas by parachuting from an airplane. Once on a fire we work as an experienced and highly motivated team to put the fire out using chainsaws and hand tools. After the fire we pack up our gear and hike to the nearest road or trail head to be picked up and return to base. Some other responsibilities include tree climbing, inspecting and packing parachutes, sewing, packing cargo, and maintaining a high level of fitness.
What you like most about your job/position? The variety of work that we get to do and the people that I get to work with. I love the excitement and adrenaline of loading up on the plane, jumping out over some of the most wild and remote areas in the country, and working hard with like-minded and passionate people. There’s a saying in smokejumping: “This is the best job in the world.”
What advice would you give to current students pursuing a career in Agriculture and Life Sciences? Don’t let your classes get in the way of your education. Get involved! Being involved in the Forestry Club had a huge influence on my education and my career. Follow your passions, do what you love, and you will never “work” a day in your life. Always work hard, have a positive attitude and good things will happen. Don’t worry if you don’t know exactly what you want to do in life. It will all work out the way it is supposed to.