Frederick received a B.S. in Forest Resource Management from West Virginia
University in 1982 and began working for DNR in January 1989. From 1989-93 he
worked as a natural resource technician in the Green Shores and TREE-Mendous
Maryland programs out of the State nursery. Since 1993 he has worked as Project
Forester for Cecil County. Tom, who lives in Rising Sun in Cecil County, was
recently recognized as DNR’s Forester of the Year.|
1. Why did you decide to pursue a career as a DNR forester?
Although I grew up in suburbia, I was fortunate to have been exposed to outdoor pursuits – camping, fishing and hunting – while still a teenager. A friend’s brother had a degree in forestry and happened to be working for a wood products company, and I thought that would be an interesting field to get into.
2. What exactly does a forester do?
As a Project Forester, I’m responsible for implementing programs at the field level that protect and sustain our forestland base. I develop customized forest stewardship plans for landowners and forest managers that are designed to enhance and maximize wood product potential, wildlife habitat restoration and recreational opportunities. I also coordinate reforestation efforts, matching landowners to programs and funding sources, especially those that involve establishing stream buffers around waterways. Finally, I work to prevent, control and investigate woods and brush fires, which draws upon my training in firefighting techniques.
Each county in Maryland has its own forest conservancy board made up of citizen volunteers – and each county Project Forester serves in the role of secretary on these boards. These boards provide technical assistance and educational programs to local jurisdictions, schools and other groups.
3. What is the most important point you would try to relate to the general public about preserving our state’s resources?
I try to make people aware of the many benefits of trees and forests – both economic and environmental – and how work to restore and stabilize Maryland’s forestland base is critical to supporting wildlife habitat and improving the overall health of our waterways and the Chesapeake Bay.
4. What are your greatest concerns regarding the future of Maryland’s natural resources?
Sprawl development and its resulting forest fragmentation. When trees are arbitrarily cleared to build more houses and strip malls, it breaks up large parcels of forest. The lack of forest interior that directly results affects local wildlife and migratory bird populations, and impacts the stability of the region’s wood products industry.
5. Your favorite spot – the one you go to “to get away from it all?”
The spot I’m thinking of is on private property and, unfortunately, is one I’m most likely to find myself in while fighting brush fires … the cliffs over the Susquehanna River in Cecil County, north of Conowingo. Not only does it provide an incredible view from its 200-foot hills and steep cliffs, it’s also notable for its unusual soils and habitats.
6. Advice for someone who would like to become a forester?
First and foremost, you have to really love the outdoors. Consider giving it a try by volunteering with the Forest Service on weekends or summer breaks and tromping along with your local forestry crew. Then you have to be licensed, which means you need to get a bachelor’s degree in a forestry-related field. Experience with heavy equipment comes in handy, as fighting wood and brush fires is routinely part of the job. Finally, you have to really like working with people. Contrary to popular belief, being a forester is not about spending time alone, hiking through the forest counting tree species… You have to be extremely comfortable dealing with people, some of whom will be friendly and some not, as forestry issues can incite a lot of passion in people! So you have to be ready and willing to help folks understand the issues and appreciate the benefits that our trees and forests provide.